The Homelink Group assisted 27 women entrepreneurs, from rural Matabeleland, to participate at the just-ended Zimbabwe International Trade Fair (ZITF) as part of the diversified institution’s nationwide drive to promote financial inclusion and rural business.
Under this programme, Homelink seeks to recognize and uplift rural entrepreneurs, whose culture and traditions showcased through different crafts made using locally available resources.
The ZITF platform gave them the much-needed market exposure and feedback.
On its part, Homelink undertakes to make accessible and affordable financial services available to all entrepreneurs, including rural women who have not always been financially included. Homelink is committed to growing the economy through empowering the micro industries and linking them to local and export markets.
“We have aligned our corporate social responsibility with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, which are also in line with the Zimbabwe Government’s aspirations of achieving a middle-class economy by 2030. We are involved in areas that stimulate social and economic upliftment, which are Entrepreneurial Development, Sports Development, Educational Enhancement, Financial Literacy and Human Welfare,” said the Homelink Group’s Marketing Manager, Tendai Rafemoyo.
At this year’s ZITF, 11 Matabeleland districts - Binga, Gwanda, Beitbridge, Lupane, Nkayi, Umguza, Bulilima, Mangwe, Umzingwane, Matobo, Insiza - and Chiredzi were represented. The top two women per district in attendance were selected through district level competitions.
The women exhibited works of their hands in different categories such as craft, basketry, weaving, value addition, traditional dishes, beading, curios, horticulture, livestock, traditional herbs and medicines.
“The products on display definitely resonated with the international market and can be easily exported. These women have capacity to generate their own foreign currency” said one of the adjudicators in citation.
To motivate the women and support their entrepreneurial, drive Homelink sponsored individual monetary prizes and the winning district, Bulilima, walked away with RTGS$5 000.
The Bulilima women’s representative, Sindiso Ncube-Masuku said support from Homelink has helped them improve their products, while showcasing their products at the ZITF opened their eyes to a whole new world.
“Homelink has assisted us assisted us greatly. Last year, I was privileged to be part of the group that was funded by Homelink to participate at the Harare Agricultural Show to learn how to exhibit and network. From that experience, we have been able to improve on our crop and livestock farming, poultry project, bead works and amarula fruit projects where we use the fruit to produce butter, jam, and oils among others,” Ncube-Masuku said.
“We are going to use our prize money as a revolving fund for disabled women in our districts and also to get more equipment so that our production capacity also increases,” she added.
Homelink Finance Sales and Channels Manager, Sibusisiwe Mashoko says her organisation seeks to provide affordable funding to women, rural businesses and micro industries, which tended to be marginalised by traditional lending institutions.
“The drive is for individuals to participate in economic activity, to own and control productive assets which in turn lead to development. Instead of searching for employment, they create opportunities that address unemployment.”
Homelink, in partnership with some institutions of higher learning, has held financial literacy training workshops for women in Gwanda, Masvingo and Harare. These workshops have helped equip women with skills on how to come up with sound and bankable business proposals. The training workshops also take participants through loan application processes, how to pay back loans, company documentation as well as basic taxation.
The training programmes to equip women with relevant business skills will be extended to cover all the country’s 10 provinces.