Widowed mother weaves her way to a better life

Grace Madekurozva, 30, faced severe financial problems following the death of her husband in 2012. Illiterate and unaccustomed to being the primary breadwinner, she searched for a way to provide for her three little children.

Grace Madekurozva showing her products.
Grace Madekurozva showing her products.

As a child, she learned to weave baskets, pots and hats. This was her only skills and she knew she had to used it to generate some income. Although she had the necessary talents and a sound plan, she did not have any money with which to buy the raw materials.

Through her friend, Madekurozva heard about MicroStart, a lending institution and the services it provides to aspiring entrepreneurs.

$300 loan

Although she was initially hesitant, Madekurozva completed her MicroStart loan application. After analysing her situation and studying her business plan, she was awarded a $300 loan through the office of theTowards Women’s Economic and National Development through Empowerment scheme – approved a $300 loan.

With this she was able to buy all the raw materials she needed and hire several employees. Madekurozva taught a number of young girls the basics of weaving, passing on a valuable skill while providing an income.

“I had no way of knowing that a micro-credit scheme could turn my life around. This scheme provides small loans to the poor, particularly women, without requiring collateral. This has helped me put my children through school,” she said in a recent interview.

Good profits

As skilful and hard worker, she quickly developed a reputation for producing high quality products. “The loan helped me start my business, and it has made it possible for me to buy large quantities of material at a very low cost. This has helped me make my products competitive and in a short time I have realised good profits,” she said.

Madekurozva has now opened a shop in Mutare and employed two other women. “I hope that my business will expand and I will be able to employ as many women as possible, thus helping them to earn a living,” she said.

One of the employees, Dadirai Mugocha said: “I have a leant a lot from her (Madekurozva). I am happy that I am part of her success in this business. I am now able to look after myself and family.”

She has customers in Mutare and Harare. Madekurozva has also managed to sell her products to tourists through hotels in the city that have been displaying her products on their premises.

Steady income

The hardworking mother is delighted with her success, which has remarkably improved her family’s lifestyle. “Since my husband, who was the breadwinner, passed away, I no longer have to worry about providing for my children. Now I have enough steady income to finance their education,” she said, adding that she had nearly completed repayment of her first loan and had plans to apply for a second loan to increase the size of her business.

Elvis Mumhango, a MicroStart loans officer, said the lending scheme had been very successful for a number of women in various communities. “We have found that women in particular often struggle to find the capital they need to start up their projects because banks see them as too risky,” he said. “By integrating funding with business development assistance, we are offering a viable solution to these women by giving them the small amounts that we hope they will deliver good returns on their investments.”

In Mutare, the loans given range from $100 to $2,000 and are exclusively given to under-privileged women in the city. Currently 200 women here are members of this micro-credit financing scheme.

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