Small loan makes a big difference

Clayton Masekesa reports on the great opportunities available to women as he relates the success story of a business woman who has gone from selling vegetables to running a successful cleaning product business.

Jackie Gwaze - Gendered perceptions about the role of women makes difficult for them to progress.
Jackie Gwaze – Gendered perceptions about the role of women makes difficult for them to progress.

In just a few years, Jackie Gwaze has gone from selling a few vegetables grown in her back yard – an unprofitable micro-business – to operating a successful enterprise that supplies top quality cleaning products.

She has achieved this success with the support of the Women’s Small and Micro Enterprise Development (MED) in partnership with the Zimbabwe Women’s Bureau (ZWB).

Since the project started in 2013, it has provided potential entrepreneurs with business and technical training and coaching, links to financial institutions, access to financial services and education about women’s rights.

Gwaze is just one of many women who have achieved remarkable results, increased profits, self-confidence and greater access to loans and business networks as a result.

$8 000 loan

ZWB linked her with a bank where she obtained a $8 000 loan to launch ‘Eastern Cleaning Supplies’. In a recent interview, Gwaze said that after eight years of making a meagre living selling vegetables, she spotted an opportunity to enter the wholesale cleaning product market.

“I purchase directly from manufacturers and resell with a small mark-up,” she explained. Today, she supplies a variety of soap, shampoo and disinfectant products to various shops, companies and organisations.

“I chose cleaning products because they are used by people in their kitchens and bathrooms every day. I knew it could be a good enterprise,” she said.

Turning point

The turning point for Gwaze came when she attended enterprise training presented by the project in 2013. This training made her realise how important it was to register a business and secure capital to invest in the company’s future growth and also opened doors for her.

“I exhibited products at the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair (ZITF) and the Manicaland Agricultural Show where I reached new customers and sold many products,” she said. She has also created employment for many women in Mutare. Gwaze has, however, noted that not all women-owned businesses achieve the same levels of success as hers.

“Many women lack secure rights over land and property and therefore find it difficult to provide the collateral needed to access loans. Cultural norms and gender perceptions also make it difficult for women to progress in the business world,” added Gwaze.

Unstoppable force

She does believe though that with the right support, women entrepreneurs are an unstoppable force. She plans to reach new markets and scale up her flourishing business by acquiring more delivery vehicles in order to reach an ever-growing national consumer base. ZWB programmes officer Edith Rusere said that the Bureau developed and implemented] programmes to promote economic sustainability, household food security and sustainable livelihood for members and their families.

“We want all women to be literate, well informed and educated about issues affecting them. We want to ensure that all women are self-reliant,” she said.

The ZWB will continue to improve the socio-economic status of poor, grass root communities by providing training, information and financial and material support for sustainable development programmes, added Rusere.

Soap factory

Gwaze admitted: “Before receiving trainings, I was scared to take the chance of running my own business. Now I know about loans and record keeping and I can save and present my records to the bank with confidence. I am confident that even if I take out a big loan, I will be able to repay it because the business is doing so well.”

Needless to say, this entrepreneur has paid her initial investment back many times over and is currently making plans to scale up. She intends setting up a soap factory that will help to create employment opportunities for young people in the local community.

The ZBW believes that Gwaze’s experience shows why the economic empowerment of women matters so much. Empowering women entrepreneurs to reach their full potential will help to transform and uplift, not just individual businesses and lives, but entire communities.

For more information and ideas on how you can replicate this project please contact: Jackie Gwaze : Cell: 0739 833 689

Edith Rusere : Cell: +263712882823

Post published in: Analysis

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