Tendai Guta Post Correspondent
The establishment of the Zimbabwe Women’s Microfinance Bank (ZWMB) and the Youth Empowerment Bank should be taken as a great opportunity which has knocked on women and youth’s doors.
ZWMB is the first bank in Southern Africa to be exclusively dedicated to the economic transformation and empowerment of the womankind.
These institutions know no politics. Any interested woman or youth can walk in and get assistance regardless of their political affiliations.
Some Government critics had already started politicising the development, claiming that it will only benefit Zanu-PF supporters. Let it be known that President Mnangagwa, being the President of the whole nation, is doing this for every Zimbabwean regardless of race, religion, colour or political affiliation.
During the launch of ZWMB, President Mnangagwa urged women to take advantage of the bank which is bound to economically empower and transform their lives in the face of many years of marginalisation.
The bank was established by the Ministry of Women Affairs, Gender and Community Development in a bid to alleviate poverty and give women access to financial services especially those in remote areas.
Women and youths from both urban and rural areas should come up with different income generating projects and apply for capital from their respective banks. Some of the projects they can start include poultry, market gardening, piggery, sewing, events management among others. They can also venture into food drying, processing and preservation.
In many Zimbabwe`s rural households, women are seasonally involved with these activities. They preserve surplus production for household consumption and for marketing when the family needs more cash.
However, the regular production of a standardised product for the market is still rare and a wide range of local products which could be produced are absent. Most notable of these are dried fruits, vegetables and herbs.
Women should take advantage of their God-given solar energy to dry vegetables such as tomatoes, egg plants as well as fruits such as figs, grapes, and peaches.
The world market for these fruits is expanding every year.
However, the country has not yet established linkages with these markets due to poor uptake of the business.
Women should also take advantage of a large market for edible and medicinal herbs which remain poorly supplied from local sources. The National Trust of Zimbabwe (NTZ) has partnered a local firm in Manicaland to produce organically grown herbs and spices for export to readily available European markets. These partnerships should also be extended to women and youth groups so that they are assisted with foreign markets.
Production of jams, vegetable pastes and fruit juices could all increase income for women in particular since this would generally make use of existing skills and technology.
Small-scale milk processing enterprises could be established in villages where there is a surplus of milk. People should take advantage of the command livestock programmes introduced by Government to improve their heads.
Milk processing is one area traditionally dominated by females and it would help if they expand their dominance in cheese production in line with Government’s thrust of value addition.
Women and youths can also participate in programmes like command fisheries, and other command agriculture programmes for their income generating projects. Mining is also another lucrative area where both women and youths can venture into.
The Government is assisting small scale miners in an effort to boost the mining sector.
Flowers and indoor plants production could interest villages located close to towns where there is a market for this kind of production. There is a market for high quality fruit-tree seedlings and a few women have engaged in this area.
These are just a few examples of many income generating projects that women and youths can undertake to earn their living.
President Mnangagwa, however, implored the banks to desist from scaring away depositors with outrageous charges and unrealistic collateral security.
It is the duty of every beneficiary to support these banks through paying back loans so that the funds will revolve to other youths and women who should also benefit from the loans being disbursed by these institutions.