Budiriro co-op diversifies for income generation

Failure to have electricity installed at their bakery has not deterred a group of women and men from Budiriro co-operative in Masase, Buhera, from looking at other ways of generating income.

Sofia Mapuranga handing over the $1 000 donation from Steve McKechnie to Budiriro Co- operative Chairperson, Rangarirayi Muchandibaya, last year.
Sofia Mapuranga handing over the $1 000 donation from Steve McKechnie to Budiriro Co- operative Chairperson, Rangarirayi Muchandibaya, last year.

The co-operative last year received a donation from UK-based well-wisher Steve McKechnie following the publishing of their story in The Zimbabwean. For more than a year they have been struggling to have electricity installed at their bakery.

This is despite the fact that the group went through all the required Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (Zesa) procedures in order to make their bakery eligible to start using electricity.

Stalled

Rangarirai Muchandibaya, the chairperson of the co-operative, said members had come up with another way of boosting financial income for their families' upkeep after realising that it was taking too long to have Zesa connect electricity at their bakery.

“We are still baking bread and buns using the traditional underground ovens like before,” said Muchandibaya. “We had hoped that after receiving the donation, we would be using the electric facilities at the bakery, but it seems Zesa is stalling our hopes for a viable business at Masase Bakery.”

Since January the co-op has been mobilising for funds through a pool fund, which they dubbed ‘Our community based loan fund’.

Savings

They have contributed $10 each at the end of each month from January to June, enabling the co-operative to save over $100 monthly.

“Using the money from this fund, we have been able to kick-start various income-generating initiatives – including vending, crocheting and purchasing seeds for gardening ventures,” said Muchandibaya.

Members repay the money to the group with interest monthly at affordable rates.

Sustainable

Hilda Chibanda, one of the beneficiaries of the fund, ventured into the clothing business. She used the money she borrowed to travel to Mutare to buy clothes for resale.

“I did not hesitate to borrow the money because I already had something in mind which I knew would give me a sustainable profit,” said Chibanda.

After making the one day trip to Mutare, it did not take her long to purchase what she needed for her community. “I did a market survey and realised that our community depended on clothes brought by business people, some of whom came from as far as Mutare and Harare,” she said.

Edmore Mhiripiri, ventured into vegetable gardening. “I realised that there was a gap in this community where we were dependent on produce from Murambinda growth point, which is more that 20 kilometres away,” he said. Because his garden was situated near a well, which rarely dried up regardless of the season, he decided to plant vegetables such as rape, covo, spinach and tomatoes.

“This season (winter) is the most difficult when it comes to vegetables in our community and I am grateful that I have managed to successfully plant my vegetables using the money I got from the co-operative,” he said.

Although he has managed to repay the money that he borrowed, he is yet to make a profit considering that he has just started his gardening project.

Optimistic

“I am hoping that in the next two or three months, I will be able to stand on my own two feet and reap quite a substantive profit,” he said.

Shedding more light on the progress regarding the electrification of the bakery, Muchandibaya said the Zesa personnel had come and had assessed the installation of electricity at the bakery but were yet to switch on electricity.

“The Zesa personnel came two weeks ago and they said the electrician had done a good job. They indicated that they would come and switch on the electricity soon. But they have not done so and this wee, I am going to travel to the regional headquarters and establish what is stalling progress,” said Muchandibaya, adding that the co- operative members remained optimistic that one day, their dream for a viable and electrified bakery would come true.

"We cannot lose hope after coming this far," said Muchandibaya. "Resilience is one of the tenets of today's rural woman and we believe that one day, we will get there and become the hub of confectioneries for Buhera and surrounding towns."

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