Hopley families start small businesses

Ninety eight families in Hopley, Harare, have started small businesses with the support of the Zimbabwe Women’s Bureau.

Some of the products being made in Hopley Community.
Some of the products being made in Hopley Community.

At a site near a makeshift clinic, women and men criss-cross a once open space as part of a diverse micro-industrial, commercial and service unit.

The majority of Hopley residents are survivors of the government’s 2005 Operation Murambatsvina purge on informal traders. Their new ventures include a wide range of goods: work suits and school uniforms; household furniture; metal welding; farm bricks and leather products.

Some have tiny wooden hair salons, fast-food outlets and air-time vending sites, thanks to ZWB which provided the wooden cabins, built toilets and advanced varying sums of start-up capital.

ZWB is a national organisation established in 1978. On the Hopley Project, they have worked with the American Friends Services Committee, the Catholic Church’s Silveira House and the Ministry of Small to Medium Enterprises and Cooperative Development.

The director, Ronika Mumbire, said similar support would be extended to families in Hatcliffe, north of Harare, as part of ZWB’s poverty alleviation scheme.

“Our programmes run for three years,” she said. “The participants are divided into clusters led by committees that they elect from their communities. They have a constitution that guides their operations and how they save their income.

“We do not discriminate on gender or political grounds. Participants in our projects come from different political backgrounds. We focus on development and involve them at a community level.”

William Musara (27), a father of three, said he works with James Foshore (42) and five others in their business cluster. “ZWB came here and trained us in various trades for a period of three months early this year,” said Musara.

“Before, I used to be a vendor. Now I am a welder. Our district administrator allocated this site for home-industry purposes and as a community we are utilising it.”

The ZWB says it regularly monitors the small businesses to ensure that they succeed. “We try to involve the participants so that they really appreciate that this is their own business,” said Mumbire.

“We were given a generator, welding machine and grinders,” added Foshore, a former shop cleaner. “We make door and window frames and wheelbarrows. Others repair hammer mills, make bricks, sew and decorate homes.”

The new businesses plan to compete with other home industries in Mbare, Highfield and Glen View in Harare, a dream the owners said was being hampered by water and electricity shortages.

“We need heavy duty bending machines, steel-cutting devices and other industrial equipment to increase our production and employ youths in this area,” said Foshore.

Women making school uniforms said they wished to raise more money to enable them to move away from using small domestic sewing machines.

“We need electricity and industrial sewing machines so that we can raise our work to a commercial level,” said one of the women.

Post published in: News
  1. linah Chiundo
  2. linah Chiundo

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