Rumbidzai Chiwanza’s backyard soccer ball manufacturing business could not rescue her situation as the effects of the country’s perennial economic woes had hit hard on the family’s finances. Thanks to Boost Fellowship Trust whose business management training initiative empowered her with some financial literacy skills which have since turned around the family narrative.
Holding a ball in each hand, Rumbidzai (36), a mother of five and an up and coming entrepreneur, smiles as she proudly narrates her story.
“At some point life was so difficult that we had to send children to our rural home so we could ease pressure on us while we searched for opportunities that could generate us enough money to sustain the family,” she recounts.
“We lived on borrowing every month since my husband’s salary was not sufficient to take us through the month. I am happy that we no longer have to rely on hand-outs ever since Boost (Boost Fellowship Trust) trained us on proper ways of running our small businesses.”
“I used to spend every single penny that I had made from sales without making some savings, but through the training, I have now developed a habit of converting my money to US (United States Dollars),” she added.
Rumbidzai lives in Budiriro 1, a high density suburb in the outskirts of Harare that has become the epicentre of cholera and typhoid outbreaks in recent years. Her husband works at a local firm as a security guard where his salary has been eroded by hyperinflation that is currently prevailing in the country.
Boost Fellowship builds entrepreneurial capacity.
With support of UNDP, UNICEF Zimbabwe, and Government, Boost Fellowship Trust provided business training to over 500 entrepreneurs (women and young people) in Budiriro, Glenview, Chipinge urban and Gwanda town under Urban Resilience program. The project whose broad and long term objective is to improve urban resilience and strengthen provision of Water Sanitation and Hygiene and Basic Social Services to foster Local Economy Development, was implemented as a pilot. The immediate objective of the pilot project is to address key economic growth bottlenecks, reduce poverty and improve livelihoods.
Boost’s capacity building initiative transformed lives.
After receiving business skills training, Rumbidzai has grown to become a proud mother, with achievements in her life also speaking for themselves. “I am now a relieved person because unlike in the past where I could not provide my children with the most basic staff, these days I can even pay school fees for them without having to wait for their father to come back from work”, Rumbidzai said.
“I have managed to bring back my children, they are now learning here in Budiriro,” she added. “I have one child whom instead of going to grade four, I had to send him back to grade two because I had realised that he had lagged behind. Now I am glad that he is doing well and come January (2020), I will be paying for his extra classes so that he realises his full potential”.
Rumbidzai, not only is she becoming self-reliant but also environmental conscious. “We make our balls from offcuts which we buy from sofa carpenters around. This way, we are helping clean the environment because Council (Harare Town Council) refuse collection process is taking long,” Rumbidzai said.
She now dares dreaming big. “If the business consistently performs the way it is now, I am sure we can finish off this house (pointing in the direction of a half complete block-bricks house) and even put a durahall so that we don’t end up littering our neighbours’ yards with the kaylites (granule materials used instead of the conventional pressure, to give the ball shape and required weight) we are using.
Through the training she received, Rumbidzai has gone on to employ a neighbour who is helping her pursue her cause.
For Itai Chikabveka (41), earning a living out of her weaving business seemed all but gloomy as she ran short of business etiquette to prop her to the top. Nonetheless, through BOOST Fellowship Trust’s business mentorship program, Itai has transformed into an astute entrepreneur; whose products appeal to the regional market.
“Before training, there are quite a number of things that I took for granted that cost me a lot of money,” Itai said. “BOOST changed my life. What I know now, if I had known it two years ago, I would not have been counting losses. My products are now on demand and some of my clients go as far as Botswana selling them.”
Itai re-purposes ribbons from discarded cassettes and soft drink lids to make colourful hand bags to compliment her husband’s wallets and fashion belts enterprise, and her being a member of a health club, is conscious of the extra benefit the nature of her work possesses.
“This business made me realize that actually, there is money in waste. Nowadays people understand separation of waste so it is easy to pick up the staff we want,” she explained. “Sometimes we go where people are partying to collect can lids so my job helps keep the environment clean”.
Itai is a mother of three, who lives in Glenview 8, a suburb prone to cholera and typhoid outbreaks. Due to persistent el nino induced drought, women like Itai live below poverty datum line (PDL-cost of a given standard of living that must be attained if a person is deemed not to be poor). But providing mentorship will propel many to a sensible lifestyle.
BOOST offered mentorship to up and coming entrepreneurs
BOOST Fellowship through financial support from UNDP and UNICEF, offered business management skills training and mentorship to women and young entrepreneurs in Budiriro, Glenview, Gwanda and Chipinge under Urban Resilience program. The program is designed to build capacity and enable entrepreneurs to scale up their businesses thereby reducing poverty and improving livelihoods.
Mentorship program boosts business expertise
After a series of mentorship sessions, Itai is now upbeat about the course of her business venture. She said: “The future of my business is bright given that I have acquired selling skill. We learnt that to win a client you need to emphasis on the distinct features of your product”. “If you look at this wallet for example (pointing at a groove on a wallet she was holding in her left hand), one may ask why it is there and if you compare it with most of the wallets on the streets, this is a unique part of it in that it allows wallet to fold even when fully loaded without facing any problems,”Itai added.
Itai said the training and mentorship program has transformed her financial management skill, an area she struggled with before. “In all honest, we only started recording our sales after the training. All this time we could not even tell how much we had generated over a period of a month, but now it’s easy for us to trace it,” she noted.
Through proceeds from her business, Itai gives her children a decent life. “I have managed to pay for first born son’s driver’s licence expenses,” Itai said. Her son now has his class two driver’s licence and has since left for South Africa to pursue a career professional as a driver.