Nozibelo Maphosa, Sunday News Reporter
A NUMBER of women exhibitions took centre stage at the just ended Zimbabwe International Trade Fair, a testimony that women were now geared to fully participate in the turnaround of the economy.
Sunday News last week spoke to a number of women exhibitors who said they were now ready to fully take advantage of the Government’s call to promote women and contribute to the growth of the country.
Moving Mothers representative Mrs Thenjiwe Dube said her group, which was formed last year from personal savings of five members, was excited with the business they were getting from the showcase. The group specialises in making various artefacts from beads.
“We started the group last year from our savings. We are home-based care givers in Newton West (Bulawayo), and we realised that the people we are looking after need more than just support. Hence we founded this group as a way of raising money to buy them groceries,” said Mrs Dube.
She said although she was the only unemployed member of the five, she has managed to look after her family from the money she raises from the sale of the beads.
“Our group has its own challenges, for instance we do not have many customers, sometimes the ones we have complain of our prices saying the bags are expensive, but the reason why the bags are expensive is because we import beads and where we buy them they are expensive. If we could get enough funds we could grow further,” she said.
Moving Mothers sell handbags decorated with beads and some of them are sold in Tanzania and Namibia.
Sunday News also visited a stand which belonged to women from Nkayi called Hawukela Wenze. The project is made up of to 10 women who specialise in basket weaving.
The chairperson of the group, Mrs Loise Sibanda said they started weaving baskets in 1989.
They have been weaving baskets and selling them locally but only started exhibiting at the ZITF last year.
She said the group has been helping orphans from local villages by buying school uniforms and stationery.
Mrs Sibanda, however, said the women were facing problems of finding ready customers who can order the products in bulk.
“We have been in this business for 28 years. The advantage of the project is that we do not buy raw material, it’s readily available near our homesteads, and our only input is labour. The only problem we are faced with is finding buyers for our finished work. However, we manage to help orphans and the less privileged children from our area,” said Mrs Sibanda.
Sunday News also visited Mrs Lakheli Mupfuwa’s stand which mainly deals with selling uniforms and industrial wear.
Mrs Mupfuwa said she has been working alone since 1997 when she started her project from her own savings.
Her company is called Manufacturers of Industrial and Casual Wear.
Mrs Mupfuwa started exhibiting at the ZITF in 2009.
“I started my project in 1997 at home, by then I used a hand machine. My business has grown as I can now afford to rent a place of my own in town and buy the required sewing machines. I make and supply uniforms to industries, churches and schools, I also make bed covers. At times I have contracts with the Silveira House, which paid for my stand here at the ZITF, there I will be teaching youths short courses,” said Mrs Mupfuwa.
She also said with enough financial support, her business could grow.
“I am appealing for funds so that I can afford to hire more people because this is not a one person’s job, I need help, I also need money to buy more raw material,” she said.