Egg project hatches profits for rural women

Chickens cackle in the hatchery while a group of happy women huddle together discussing their mutual interests, how it has impacted on their lives and possible plans for future expansion. Then it’s off to the storeroom where there is a stack of boxes waiting to be packed with trays of eggs.

Tracey Danda - this is the most successful project that we have embarked on.
Tracey Danda – this is the most successful project that we have embarked on.

It is nearing lunch time and the assigned cook for the week is keeping a close watch on the pot of curry and rice simmering away on the gas stove. The rest of the women are cleaning and packing eggs. Welcome to the Mazano Women’s Club (MWC) in Mayo.

Through the Development Organization for Women’s Empowerment (DOWE) programme initiated by a local NGO, The Zimbabwe Underprivileged Women Organization (ZUWO), this Women’s Club has used the financial support donated to them to develop a successful business.

In a recent interview with The Zimbabwean, the chairperson, Ruth Nyatsamba, said the business was doing well and the profits realised were being used to support the Women’s Club. In addition, ZUWO has programmes in place to train the women in financial management and proposal presentation.

For the 12 women who make up the club, rearing the chickens and marketing the eggs is more than a means of providing a livelihood. It has provided a catalyst for sharing life's challenges and joys. The women’s characters and backgrounds are diverse, yet strong bonds of friendship have been forged as they meet daily to clean, pack away eggs and tend to the chickens on which they depend for their income.

Marketing research

The group started their egg production business in 2010 when they were approached by ZUWO. “With the help of churches, our local councillor and the traditional leadership, ZUWO identified women who were underprivileged and asked us to develop a proposal for a project that we could sustain.

“We came together and we identified this project. We did a survey and we found out that there were no other egg farms in the area. When we checked the supermarkets and did our marketing research, we found that people were having to go as far as Rusape and Mutare to buy eggs," explained Nyatsamba, a widowed mother of two.

She confirmed that the business had greatly changed the lives of the members. "The project is growing to our satisfaction. We supply supermarkets in Rusape and Mutare. We also supply the eggs to various boarding schools, shop owners, middle men, individuals and various other customers in the community. And we sell to a Farmers' Market every weekend," she said, proudly adding that profits from sales of the eggs have enabled her to support her daughters and pay their school fees and expenses.

Most successful

ZUWO’s projects coordinator Tracey Danda said they had held meetings with the Women’s Club and asked members to produce a proposal which they presented for funding. “Mazano Women’s Club received funding to secure 500 chickens in February 2010 which enabled the members to establish their chicken co-op and open up for business. Six months later, they received an additional 500 chickens,” confirmed Danda.

“Today we are very excited about how these women have managed this enterprise. It is one of the most successful projects that we have embarked on and I hope that more women will follow the footsteps of Mazano Women’s Club,” she said.

Victoria Chemhere, another member of the club, was busily polishing a tray of eggs when The Zimbabwean visited the club recently. She looks forward to getting up early in the mornings to join the other women for work. "First we have to feed the fowls, then we pick up the eggs, clean the nest, change the water and wipe the eggs," she said.

Having lost her husband 12 years ago, the egg production project has helped her in raising her three children and kept her occupied. "It's good because I haven’t had an income since I lost my husband and I spent my time at home doing nothing. Since this project began, I am earning an income to support myself and my family," she said.

The demand for eggs grew far more rapidly than the women had initially anticipated. They currently have 1300 chickens, and the women are keen to expand their business into selling road runner chickens. "There is an even bigger market for road runner chicken meat than for eggs. Eggs have a limited use-by date but road runners are in great demand," explained Chemhere.

The women believe that diversifying their business will generate more income for them.

The women have also gained respect in their community for their generosity in giving away eggs to the elderly.

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Post published in: Analysis

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