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Women economic empowerment

The Self Help Group Program

The Self Help Group Approach is a program funded by KinderNotHilfe (KNH). It is specifically targeting underprivileged women in the society. These women have formed homogenous groups from the same socio economic groups. These are groups of 15 to 20 women. They meet weekly and save from as little as $0.50 per member. The members use their weekly savings, credit and social involvement as instruments of empowerment. Some of the characteristics include Weekly meetings; saving money; Rotational leadership; Acquiring Loans at agreed low rates, Discussion of social issues at every meeting, Maintaining group and personal books of accounts.

To date, 82 groups have been formed in 6 wards of Umguza, Umzingwane and Bubi districts reaching out to 1394 women (direct beneficiaries) who have started various income generation projects which have brought an improvement to their lives. There has been a marked improvement in the lives of their families especially children whose school fees is paid on time and there have been reports of improved food availability in the different households. The women also received capacity building on growth, marketing, packaging and diversification in their businesses.

Most significant change stories from the women indicate that despite the economic challenges in the country, the SHG individual members are reporting contributions to the household income ranging from $30 (for the new groups) to $90 a month (for the mature groups). Some of the SHG members have bought livestock such as goats and some are embarking on traditional male dominated business ventures such as Brick moulding businesses to respond to business demand within their communities.

The SHG groups have also formed Advocacy committees that are called Cluster Level Associations(CLA’s). These have managed to form more groups within their localities thus ensuring sustainability. They have been capacity build on group businesses that they can embark as on as CLA’s so to develop administration funds to augment their Advocacy efforts and seeking for support from duty bearers and other stakeholders. Community leaders have recognised these structures within their localities as they are really pushing for issues that affect women and children in their areas such as lack of identity documents and making improvements to roads and other infrastructure so that they own the development process in their communities.

Advocacy

The women and young people in the SHGs were also be trained on advocacy. These women formed advocacy committees which approached community leaders and stakeholders on improvement of service delivery in their areas. Through such advocacy initiatives the operations of the mobile clinic in Umguza ward 1 (Hope Fountain) and 8 (Arda Balu) improved as they started also to offer ART refill services. The SHG women also managed to lobby the Rural District Authorities to allocate them land for the construction of the clinics. The SHG women managed to individually contribute $5.00 per household in ward 1 towards the construction of the clinic. This enabled them to open an account for donations and also purchase bricks and construct a tool house for the site. In both wards the land has been cleared and foundations dug. Through the Advocacy meetings with duty bearers, business people and the local advocacy committees’ position papers were presented and pledges were made towards the construction.

Business Mentorship Breakfast meetings

HOCIC under the Women Economic Empowerment (WEE)  Program funded by Oxfam hosted breakfast meetings for  women from Umguza rural district on business mentorship. The women are mainly into farming, mining, cross boarder trading and buying and selling different wares. HOCIC started working with the women in 2014 in  a project that was mainly focusing on establishment of Self Help  Groups. Most of the women now have established small businesses and  would like to develop the businesses to another level. HOCIC identified mentors who are running successful businesses in Bulawayo and lined up monthly breakfast meetings in Bulawayo that focused on various themes that are pertinent to WEE  which include Financing your business, Branding and Self Development  and Use of Social Media to market your business.  A number; of women were nominated to participate in the three  Breakfast meetings, 15 women who are mentor level, well  established successful women and 30 mentee level, upcoming business  women based in Umguza Rural District. This program’s goals were to  encourage mentorship, business development and create a platform for  networking among the participants.