Orphan knits her way to success

The Cinderella success story of a humble orphan in rural Nyazura who became a renowned designer would make a good script for a movie. CLAYTON MASEKESA reports.

Getrude Rusere - The programme has allowed talented young girls to become successful entreprenuars.

Getrude Rusere – The programme has allowed talented young girls to become successful entreprenuars.

Tsitsi Tawedzera, 27, is a brave, industrious young woman who was orphaned at age six and endured an unstable childhood being shuttled from one guardian to another.

With this background, she vowed to herself at an early age that she would make it in life in whatever career she chose, but despite her fierce ambition, she was forced to drop out of school after grade six.
“I realised early that making it in life is not always dependent on an academic foundation. I maintained my inner ambition to make it in life in whatever pursuit I chose,” she said in a recent interview.

As a teenager, Tawedzera moved to Mutare, settling in the sprawling high density suburb of Sakubva. Here she found it hard to survive until Hazel Naphazi, a ‘good Samaritan’ with a flair for knitting took her under her wing.

Kind benefactor
Tawedzera worked as assistant to her kind benefactor Naphazi who had, by this time, established knitting shops in Mutare and Rusape. Here she learnt various design and knitting skills that would stand her in good stead for the future.

However, in 2011 her employer was forced to close the Mutare shop due to the poor state of the economy and relocate to Rusape, once again leaving Tawedzera alone. But this time she had experience and knowledge on her side and was soon on the road to prosperity.
In that same year, Tawedzera joined the Women in Business Enterprise (WBE) programme that aims to educate and empower young women with the view to creating employment. Joining the WBE programme was the motivation Tawedzera needed to stitch together her entrepreneurial vision of selling knitted goods.

Cinderella story
Her designing success skills have led to her designing clothing. In fact, her success story, from humble orphan in rural Nyazura to renowned designer would make a good script for a movie. Her Cinderella-like rise to fame was rocky, but this determined orphan says that she owes everything to her ‘fairy godmother’ Naphazi.

“She taught me how to knit, a skill that would bring me success and sustain me later in life. She showed me how to be self-reliant and enabled me to make it on my own. I developed a passion for knitting,” told Tawedzera.

“Through the WBE, l learnt business skills and applied these, together with a $500 seed capital prize I won in the WBE business plan competition, I launched a shop for my products where I presently employ two other young women,” she said.
Tawedzera believes that within 10 years she will be running a very successful business with many employees.

Importance of savings
The WBE programmes director Getrude Rusere told this reporter that the programme comprised four components. “We focus on training the young girls to using certain tools to plan, implement, and manage a small business. We will also link them to markets and micro-finance organisations. We have empowered many young people like Tawedzera by placing emphasis on the importance of savings,” said Rusere.
She is pleased that Tawedzera excelled in the mini-business plan competition, which recognised her promising business idea. “The programme has indeed allowed some talented young girls to become successful entrepreneurs and to further advance their businesses,” Rusere added.

The programme, originally piloted in 2005, has already made a big difference in many young women’s lives. Using the WBE achievement, Tawedzera has become very popular with customers and organisations alike.

In 2012 she bought her own knitting machine. “By this time I knew what I wanted to be in life. Designing became my chosen career,” she added. In fact, she is so confident about her designs that she successfully displayed her products at the recent Zimbabwe Fashion week.

“Zimbabweans love their fashion. I decided to blend woollen material and came up with a unique brand that mixes the local with the exotic. The hybrid result has since become my trademark,” she said.
Besides knitting school jerseys that provides her with cash flow, she is now exporting products to South Africa, Mozambique and Botswana.

More info

If you would like more information or help to start a similar project in your area, please contact Tsitsi Tawedzera – 0772 282 313
WBE : Tel 04 2935530
Email: [email protected]

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