BY MTHANDAZO NYONI
HAND in Hand Zimbabwe (HHZ), a Bulawayo-based non-profit organisation, has given four enterprises run by villagers in Lupane and Nkayi districts seed grants to help them boost production and alleviate poverty.
The grants came under the organisation’s market linkages project (MLP), a three-year project seeking to reinforce access to markets as well as access to finance for entrepreneurs it supports.
In Lupane, the organisation funded two groups—Helping Hand Baking and Sisonke Cluster—while in Nkayi it funded Sunshine and Zamicebo Cluster.
The groups are into baking, poultry and toiletries manufacturing among other enterprises.
Helping Hand Banking and Sunshine came first in the MLP competitions organised by HHZ, bagging US$1 366 and US$1 400, respectively, while Sisonke and Zamicebo got US$1 133 and US$1 100, respectively for coming second.
The groups used the money to buy inputs and materials for their respective businesses.
Helping Hand Baking chairperson Caroline Nkala, whose enterprise is situated in Tshongogwe ward 9, said the project helped them alleviate poverty in their homes.
“Our group consists of 13 women and one man. Through this project, we are no longer relying on our husbands for upkeep.
“We are now able to fend for our children,” she said during the seed grant handover and graduation ceremony held last week.
Sanelisiwe Moyo of Sisonke Cluster in Gomoza ward 12 said the gesture by HHZ will go a long way in alleviating poverty in the community, while Zephaniah Ncube from Zamicebo Cluster in Hwayabandama village said they will now be able to supply big markets.
The Sunshine Cluster spokesperson, whose project is situated in Jingeni Village, said their vision was to grow the venture to become one of the biggest suppliers of toiletries in the country.
Kusile Rural District Council official Gyson Mandikutse urged the groups to continue producing to better themselves and their communities.
“Don’t turn these projects into white elephants. Disagreements would be there, but you should never allow them to pull you down,” he said.
An official from Nkayi district development co-coordinator’s office Nomuhle Mhlanga said enterprises should use the grants to improve their communities and their livelihoods.
“Let’s work hard to develop Nkayi and be exemplary to others,” she said.
HHZ director of programmes Emmanuel Makiwa urged groups to be transparent on finances.
“Use these seed grants productively by increasing production and improving the quality of your products. This will assist you to boost sales as well,” he said.
MLP, being implemented in all seven districts where HHZ has operations, commenced in June 2019 and is set to end in May 2022.
It is targeting 512 entrepreneurs for which 60% are youth and 40% are adults.
Through the MLP, entrepreneurs are capacitated to form cluster and commodity associations for collective efficiency in marketing.
Through this project, entrepreneurs are capacitated on market engagement, conducting market surveys including full market assessment on high value markets.
Entrepreneurs undergo training, mentoring and coaching sessions on engaging with markets to enhance their bargaining skills.
Last week, more than 150 villagers also graduated with certificates after completing a six-month modular training on managing money, opportunity identification and enterprises planning, marketing, managing enterprise finance and credit management.