The “Struggle” of a rural woman

Pretty Vundla, 27, is a typical young rural woman who was left behind by her husband who went out of the country in search for greener pastures.

The mother of three, who lives in ward 13, Homera village which is about 68km from Shurugwi urban, has struggled to raise her children since 2016 when her husband left for Namibia to look for a job because of the economic meltdown in Zimbabwe.

“When my husband left for Namibia in 2016, I was so distraught because I did not know where to start since he has been always a bread winner and always fending for the family. All the comfort I had in him being around was gone, the first six months was a real struggle because he did not send any money back home since he was also struggling and wanting to get on his feet,” she said.

Left all alone to fend for the children, Pretty tried to think of a business idea, but since she had no formal business training her mind could not come up with something concrete.

“I tried getting into groups since the majority of the young women in the community were also doing such, but the groups that we formed were mainly doing savings so that we could buy each household property such as plates, kitchen units amongst others, which had no bearing on how I was supposed to get an income,” she said.

“In November 2017, I saw the Hand in Hand Zimbabwe Team through their EDF Ms Revai Masamha at Musavezi Primary School, which is our community gathering point, explaining to my fellow village members about their new project,” she added.

The new project – Motivated and Entrepreneurial Youth (MEY) – mostly focus on improving people’s lives to become leading stars in their different communities around Zimbabwe, a fact that quickly resonated with Pretty’s dreams.

“That simple reason of Hand in Hand mentioning about leading stars and installation of hope captivated me to listen and join other young people. We were told that the project included training young people about health, life motivation and basic knowledge on how we can start our businesses. I was in dire need of such life skills,” she said with an affectionate smile.

“Soon after, we learnt about the self-help group issues and I was so impressed with the “mukando”, Internal Savings and Lending Scheme (ISALs) method of saving. Initially, we were conducting communal savings – whereby we bought each other pots and plates, but with no idea of saving to start a business.

“This new concept by HIH encouraged me the most as I had an ambition to start my own business to help me earn money for use at home as my husband was out of the country. I was eager to learn how to manage my money and later I encouraged my old group members to join the project. Currently, we have six (6) females members in our group which is called Good Hope,” Pretty added.

The HIH MEY programme has various training components on entrepreneurship, ways to manage personal money, opportunity identification and enterprise planning. The programme also encourages participants to market their products and keep records of the enterprise.

With the knowledge that she received, especially on opportunity identification and enterprise planning, Pretty was able to identify that people in her community were in great need of a grinding mill and quickly exploited the opportunity to her advantage.

“Through savings as well as money I received from my husband, I purchased a grinding mill and immediately got into business, which is now giving me and my family more income. I also learnt that as a business person I should constantly be on the lookout for more business opportunities, hence I ventured into chicken business.

“I currently sell chicken pieces since I realised that everyone wants to eat good food, but there are not butcheries in my village that supplies small chicken portions for those who don’t have enough money to buy the whole bird,” she said.

Not satisfied with her two business ventures, Pretty has also diversified her portfolio to include toiletries, clothes, fish, freezits and sweets among other things.

“Growing up I also had a passion and dream to be a horticultural farmer, I thank God that I am now close to realising my dream since I managed to drill a borehole and also bought a Jojo tank which now awaits to be mounted.

“Apart from the few economic such as shortages in fuel which is affecting my grinding mill business, I want to thank Hand in Hand for the program that they brought to us, I realised that I was always crying and wasting opportunities in my community. The HIH team and trainings opened my eyes and I can now dream even bigger.

“I also want to thank my husband because he is very supportive of what I do. He has invested heavily in the business that I am doing and I can safely say that he is my business partner,” she added.