With much zeal and eagerness to fulfil their goal of becoming free from poverty, five ambitious women from Zimunya village in Mutare district have embarked on a peanut butter making project that is changing their lives.
They named the project Ziye Zano, which translates as “have a better plan”. It began in 2012 when a group of five women from Zimunya Village pooled their skills and knowledge of microfinance to form a Village Savings and Loans Association (VSLA).
The Ziye Zano peanut butter project is an income-generating initiative funded by Plan International Canada through the Gifts of Hope programme and implemented by Plan International Zimbabwe.
Isaac Ronzai, the project coordinator, said the women decided that a food processing unit would provide a unique opportunity to benefit both themselves and the community by providing lasting economic security.
“However, they had no means to fund such a project so they reached out to us seeking financial assistance. Along with other stakeholders we agreed that we would provide a grinding mill, a peanut butter making machine and an oil-processing machine, as these would constitute a viable and sustainable investment. We approved the project and aided it with funding,” explained Ronzai.
The chairperson for Ziye Zano Peanut Butter project, Rudo Maibvisira, said the project had been expanding ever since its inception. “The women who are involved are now able to manage thie as a business. We have marketing, finance and distribution departments,” she said.
By maintaining a good level of professionalism, as well as achieving success within their business, the women are gaining respect along with the profits.
“We now have power in the community. During community meetings, they sometimes give us time to talk to the people or even advertise our project. We are now being respected, even by our chiefs,” said Maibvisira.
Gratina Mutondo, who is in charge of the operations of the group, said the women begin their workday at 0800hrs, shelling ground nuts, roasting peanuts and performing various tasks until 1600hrs.
“In addition to the hands-on food processing, we also manage all the crucial aspects required of a successful business, including labelling and packaging and administrative responsibilities like bookkeeping,” she said.
“The women here are very proud of this project. They want every client or customer that comes to grind their peanut butter to feel special,” said Matondo.
Sekai Nechironga, who is also a member of the group, said the benefits from the project were expanding to have a positive impact on the surrounding community.
While enabling access to food-processing resources and other nutritional food options, the women also aim to spread joy throughout the grinding process.
“We are now able to pay our children’s school fees. We are able to give our children nutritious food – and they are now healthy through this project,” explained Nechironga.
Chief Zimunya commented that the women had helped the community flourish through a seemingly small initiative.
“The efforts and accomplishments of this dedicated group reveal all that is possible when we invest in women and tap into their impressive potential,” said the chief.
“My area is so different now, just because we have some clever women who found a way to get money. As the chief I am the happiest to have women to work for this project,” he added.
In addition to these women, the peanut butter project has helped hundreds of families – including over 175 farmers, who were provided with seeds and fertiliser to produce the groundnuts needed for the project. They were also given training in groundnut production and farming-related business practices.
Chief Zimunya thanked Plan International –for making sure that the peanut butter project was fully funded. “The project today has helped even more families grow and harvest their own groundnut crops, and become healthy and strong for life,” he said.Post published in: Gender Equality