Woman risks all to save her family

CLAYTON MASEKESA tells the story of a remarkable woman who risked everything to join the village savings group.

Emurai Mutsvari - We are now one of the respected families in the community.

Emurai Mutsvari – We are now one of the respected families in the community.

Emurai Mutsvari is a very brave lady who made a gigantic, life-changing decision when she decided to risk her family’s very limited income by investing it all in the village savings group. But this bold move ultimately changed her impoverished family’s life for the best.

Mutsvari joined the Tanganda Cluster Village Savings Group in 2012 after selling the family’s meagre property and raising $150, which she used as initial seed money. The property she sold included the family’s three goats, an old coal stove and a bicycle. The group she joined has predominantly female members and is supported by the USAID through the Zimbabwe Agricultural Income and Employment Development (Zim-AIED). The savings group, situated in ward four in Chipinge West constituency in Manicaland province, has 73 members who all come from the villages of Musami and Tanganda.

Regular deposits
Kudakwashe Sigobohla, the group co-ordinator, said the group was formed after marginalised women and men organised themselves into groups and then each made regular deposits into a communal savings account, with no external resources or capital provided.

“Money is loaned out to members on an individual basis, allowing participants to use lump sums as capital to invest in small business enterprises, buy seeds or purchase food and other household needs,” explained Sigobohia.

The loans are paid back to the group at an agreed interest rate, thereby allowing members to earn interest on their savings.  Mutsvari has now taken full control of her family’s future via the savings group after she rented a grocery shop and started a poultry rearing business.

“I felt hopeless. We had no money to plant maize. We spent many days without a decent meal. We were considered to be one of the poorest families in the community and that hurt and disturbed me. I decided to risk everything by selling our meagre possessions and joining the savings group,” said Mutsvari.

Saved $400
“I initially raised $150 seed money to join and during my first six months in the group I saved about $200. This was enough to buy new roof sheeting for our house and a few essential household items. During 2013, I saved $400 and started a cross-border trading business,” said Mutsvari.

“One of the most important things I have gained is time management, because I no longer have to work as a casual labourer. In fact, the savings have allowed me to develop new sources of income. I now rent a shop at Tanganda Business Centre and l also have a poultry business,” she said.

Mutsvari believes the businesses will provide her with a steady income as she continues to grow them, allowing her to better provide for her family. “We were not respected in the community, but now we are a well-respected family. I owe this to the savings group. All my brothers and sisters are now going to school,” she said.

More chickens
For the next loan, she is expected to receive $480 and with this she intends expanding her poultry business by building more chicken runs and buying feed.

“I bought 100 chickens to start with. Now I have more than 500 and I am pleased to supply chickens to individuals, restaurants, schools and churches,” she said. “My life has indeed changed. I am now able to feed my family and send the young ones to school. I buy school uniforms and books for them and they now earn respect at school,” she said. The ward four councillor Godfrey Makuyana, who is working closely with the group, said the  mood was high.

“It seems like a miracle, especially for Mutsvari. Her family used to be one of the poorest. They never dreamt of saving a few dollars, much less starting their own small business. But look at them now, the family is thriving and has managed to invest in its future,” said Makuyana.

Mutsvari’s hard work and determination has already wooed many other women to join the village loan group. Most women in the group are either widowed or single parents. They  have all taken up the challenge to transform their own lives and that of their families.

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