Bulilima District Enterprise Competition prize-handover ceremony

Hand in Hand Zimbabwe (HiHZim) on Wednesday handed over chemicals and detergent-making equipment worth US$1 000 to Tjonanayila Self Help Group (SHG) from Ward 4 Bulilima District.

The seven-member group, which manufacturers washing soap – both in liquid and bar form – as well as petroleum jelly, was the first runner up at the inaugural HiHZim Market Linkages Project (MLP) Enterprise competition held in Bulilima District in March, and received a US$1 000 productive investment voucher for its sterling performance in detergent making.

Great Hope SHG won the competition and was awarded a productive investment voucher valued at US$1 500 after it successfully set up a horticultural garden in Ward 1.

Imvuselelo (SHG) who are running a goat and poultry enterprise in Ward 14 took the third prize and walked away with a US$500 productive investment voucher.

Although Tjonanayila became the first group in Bulilima to receive its prize, inputs for the other two groups have already been purchased and are set to be handed over this month.

Zanele Maseko, a member of Tjonanayila SHG, could not contain her happiness on receiving the equipment that is expected to ramp up production and improve the group members’ livelihoods.

“We are very excited to receive this equipment. We will now be able to make more soap and petroleum jelly, which are currently on demand due to the COVID-19 Pandemic,” she said in an interview.

In line with international COVID-19 safety guidelines, the handover ceremony was attended by less than 50 stakeholders from various Government Ministries, group members and local leadership.

Brighton Dube, Bulilima District Area Manager said the Market Linkages Project was a shot in the arm for local entrepreneurs and would speed up economic transformation in the district.

“The project came at the right time to address issues of marketing. Before Hand in Hand introduced the Market Linkages Project entrepreneurs were producing only enough to satisfy the immediate market, that is, people close to them as they did not have the capacity to produce enough to meet the huge demand in the district,” he said.

“This project is an opportunity not only for the group or ward but for the whole district because people in the district were relying on soap and other detergents from South Africa or Botswana. Now they will get within their proximity at affordable prices.

“Our aim is help this group to be the major supplier of soap and other detergents in the district. Our major markets being Greens, Plumtree bakery supermarket and all general dealers in the district,” Dube added.

Hand in Hand Zimbabwe has held the enterprise competitions in all the organisation’s seven (7) districts of operation namely Bulilima, Chikomba, Chirumanzu, Gwanda, Lupane, Nkayi and Shurugwi and to date prizes worth more than US$21 000 have been handed over.

The organisation, which has a huge presence in the selected districts, is using the competition to support entrepreneurs with productive investment capital that will enhance their produce so as to grow their businesses and access better markets.

The Market Linkages Project is a three-year programme that commenced in June 2019 is set to end in May 2022 and targets 512 entrepreneurs – 60% youth and 40% adults. The project seeks to reinforce access to markets and access to finance for entrepreneurs supported by Hand in Hand Zimbabwe. This involves complimenting already established enterprises under JCP, MEY, Green Enterprises and CUP through strengthening access to finance and market linkages in selected value chains such as horticulture, small livestock, apiculture and food processing in order to boost productivity, competitiveness, high income and sustainability.

Entrepreneurs in selected enterprises are expected to receive specific technical trainings, tailor-made according to their individual needs. Technical skills support the entrepreneurs in their enterprises thereby increasing productivity.

Through the Market Linkages Project, entrepreneurs are capacitated to form cluster and commodity associations for collective efficiency in marketing. Look and learn exchange visits of cluster committees are undertaken. Enterprise Competitions are held between participating groups to enhance competitiveness.

Through this project, entrepreneurs are capacitated on market engagement, conducting market survey including full market assessment on high value markets. Entrepreneurs undergo trainings, mentoring and coaching sessions on engaging with markets to enhance their bargaining skills.

To increase productivity, Hand in Hand Zimbabwe´s revolving fund plays a pivotal role in boosting the enterprises supported by the project in the form of micro-loans. Microloans are facilitated through the Revolving Fund as well as through contacts with external financial linkages. Hand in Hand Zimbabwe coordinates with micro-finance and lending institutions with a view of promoting access to alternative sources of funds. Hand in Hand Zimbabwe, however, seeks to ensure that 60% of the population benefitting from loans are women and youth.

Through this project, Hand in Hand Zimbabwe facilitates platforms for entrepreneurs to network with other value chain actors through market fairs at ward and district level and participation in business expos and exhibitions where entrepreneurs market and sell their products.

Hand in Hand Zimbabwe is a non-profit organization that builds socio-economic resilient communities as coping mechanisms against shocks resulting from economic decline, poor performing economy, climate change, disproportionate socio-political equilibrium, health crisis. The shocks threaten household food security and livelihoods. This, the organization achieves by increasing economic opportunities of target population through delivering modular entrepreneurial development training, which is integrated with cross-cutting components such as motivation, health, gender, and environment. Thus, Hand in Hand Zimbabwe commits itself to implementing sustainable interventions that contribute to fighting challenges such as food insecurity, poverty and an unattainable economy and effects of climate change that threaten individual and household wellbeing. Hand in Hand Zimbabwe has a six (6) module business development training that is delivered over six (6) months and cross cutting manuals in gender, environment and motivation on which target group capacitation is premised on.

The organisation was registered as development Trust in July 2015 and as a Private Voluntary Organisation (PVO) on the 5th of May 2020.

The organization presently operates in the following districts: Bulilima and Gwanda in Matabeleland South Province, Lupane and Nkayi in Matabeleland North Province, Chirumanzu and Shurugwi in Midlands Province and Chikomba district in Mashonaland East Province.