Zimbabwe: Verina Muchegu

Zimbabwe: Verina Muchegu

Date: November 9, 2016
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“The training rescued me from the pangs of illiteracy”.

The story of my life took a new dimension the day I met Gender Links (GL). Gender Links staff equipped us with entrepreneurial skills and I am now able to own and manage my small business.

I failed to attend the third phase of the training because I was having a case before the police after I was arrested for operating a business without a license. During the two courses I found the financial management module so useful and I used the knowledge to venture into cross border trading. I purchased two bales of second hand clothes from Mozambique and I declared them to the responsible authorities as I was taught by Gender Links. Thandi told us to follow proper channels when doing business so that goods will not be confiscated after being caught on the wrong side of the law. Unfortunately, the Zimra staff unlawfully confiscated one of my two bales. I reported the case to the police and I recovered my stock.

Despite the limitations I had due to illiteracy, Gender Links staff member was patient with me and I managed to acquire the basic knowledge on business management. Gender Links taught me how to prepare a detailed business plan and other managerial know-how skills. I successfully used the business plan I prepared through the help of Gender Links to start my small business. I used US$70 to set up my business. I bought second hand shoes from Mozambique for resale and I used the profit I earned to buy plastic buckets for resale. I took on board barter trade and I exchanged the buckets with maize grain. I managed to stock two tonnes of maize grain. I am not yet ready to sell the maize grain because the prices are still very low.

The business I started through the knowledge I obtained from Gender Links generated enough profit to buy a residential stand. I am now a proud owner of a residential stand and I am no longer a tenant. With the profits I realised I managed to buy four doors, window frames and four door frames. Once I have purchased all the necessary building material the construction work will immediately begin. I am determined to fulfill my dream of building my own house from scratch, something which I was not able to do if it was not for Gender Links entrepreneurship programme.

I grew up an orphan after I lost both parents when I was still an infant. I spent the whole of my childhood life under the custody of my elder brother Innocent*. My brother was mandated to ensure that I obtained education but he deliberately neglected his duty. He prioritized sending his sisters’ in law to school using my father’s cattle while denying me the opportunity to benefit from my father’s estate. He kept me at his home as a cattle herder while other children were going to school.

The situation robbed me of the alienable right to education. I grew up an illiterate person and the situation impacted negatively on my life. I was not able to access important information as I grew up an outcast because I was not able to participate at the same level with others. The skills I obtained impacted positively both on my economic and social development. My children now respect me and some of my relatives who used to shun me because of my poor status are now frequenting my house looking for financial help.

My situation has taught me to hate societal values that degrade females and those people who preserve them. I engaged the village Head to facilitate for the recovery of my father’s estate and he promised to help me. If it was not for Gender Links I was not able to approach community leaders since I was not aware of my rights as a woman. The community itself used to side-line me and I was not able to make decisions or discuss at the same platform with others. My major problem was lack of informed decisions due to restricted access to important information. However the training helped me to attain necessary skills to better my life. I am now on a different platform altogether because I now have the basic computer skills and I am now able to communicate with others using emails.

Although I failed to get academic qualifications I have been equipped with the most important skill and I view it as a professional career. I am now determined that there is no sky to limit me since the day Gender Links entrepreneurship programme widened my horizons. Before my encounter with Gender Links my future was uncertain and I was on the point of losing hope. In 2030 I am convinced that I will be living in one of the leafy suburbs of the country.