Nqobile Tshili, Chronicle Reporter
In 2009 Mrs Judith Ncube from Cowdray Park suburb took a bold decision to leave city life and relocated to her rural home in Mlomwe Village, Bulilima District in Matabeleland South.
Over 10 years later Mrs Ncube has no regrets for going to her rural home.
Her homestead is unlike any typical home found in rural areas which has seen most people, especially the young, shunning rural life.
The home has a precast wall like in most urban set-ups and is electrified, with running water.
It’s ironic that when Bulawayo is experiencing a water crisis which has seen most residents queuing at boreholes and some fetching the commodity from unprotected water sources, Mrs Ncube fetches water hassle free at her home. She has tap water pumped from a borehole to a tank and into the home.
There is also a tiled bathtub at Mrs Ncube’s marvellous home which has a satellite dish, meaning she can watch television programmes with much ease.
Mrs Ncube attributes the development in her home to Vusanani Cooperative, a women’s group she helped set up in 2010. Vusanani translates to uplift each other.
The cooperative which started with 10 members but now has more than 50 members is involved in value addition and beneficiation of locally produced products.
It is involved in the production of jam, oil and stock feed using Marula fruits and its innovativeness has seen it winning several awards at the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair.
In March this year it bagged US$5 000 from a local non-governmental organisation that works with Small and Medium Enterprises countrywide.
The cooperative is also involved in a cattle fattening programme and also produces dish washing liquid.
A Chronicle news crew last Friday caught up with Mrs Ncube who is the chairperson of Vusanani Cooperative.
“I own a house in Cowdray Park suburb but in 2009 I made a decision to relocate to my rural home. I took a very conscious decision as I realised that there is nothing to offer in town besides spending the day gossiping with neighbours as I was not employed. Relocating to my rural home is one of my best decisions because when I arrived here, I started income generating projects which I couldn’t do when I was still living in town,” said Mrs Ncube, whose highest education qualification is a Form Two certificate.
She said she became a member of a Vusanani Cooperative, which is living to its name, of uplifting each other.
Mrs Ncube said the group has managed to raise funds and bought livestock while initiating several developmental projects for members.
“We don’t give individual members money after we sell our products. We plan as a group based on the needs each one of us has before buying the goods that we believe an individual needs. We are proud that our initiative is bridging poverty levels in our community. When we started, there were those who were very poor, owned only thatched houses, but now they also own modern houses. As opposed to disbursing money to individuals, we look at things that our members may require and we buy for them, even if they don’t want,” said Mrs Ncube.
“For example, we have managed to buy a scotch cart, a cow and donkey for all our members while also buying cement for members to build houses.”
She said through the profits from the business, they have also made sure that there is electricity at most of their members’ homes.
Mrs Ncube said while some people may complain of unemployment, there was a need for a paradigm shift as far as employment is concerned.
“What is clear is that there’s a lot of opportunities than jobs. I could have remained in my house in Cowdray Park and be complaining of lack of job opportunities. It’s time that people look beyond employment and utilise resources within their reach to develop themselves. If we do so, we will also do away with this migration to neighbouring countries which may not be profitable than working on the land,” said Mrs Ncube.
“This community has a lot of people leaving the country to work in neighbouring Botswana and South Africa. But leaving for these countries is not always rosy. It is time we start working to develop ourselves. In Zimbabwe there is peace but in some of these countries where our children rush to they would always need to look over their shoulders. It is unsafe.”
She said Vusanani Cooperative, has youthful members as well and its part of their way of encouraging them to be self-reliant while discouraging them from migrating to other countries.
Mrs Ncube said youths can use Information Communication Technology (ICT) skills to establish new markets while being up to date with what is the latest in their businesses.
Mrs Ncube said involving the youth is meant to build confidence in them that they can stand on their feet.
She commended the Ministry of Women Affairs, Community, Small and Medium Enterprises Development for training them on financial literacy.
Mrs Ncube said the training has enabled them to make sound business decisions while remaining profitable.
One of the youthful members of the cooperative, Miss Pritchard Sibanda (28), joined it at its formation in 2010 when she was just 18 years old.
Miss Sibanda said Vusanani Cooperative has made her to become financially independent.
“The cooperative has been very accommodative especially for me as a youth. I joined it when I was quite young and I’ve developed to be an independent woman unlike some of my peers. While others managed to build houses, since I’m not married and could not construct my house at my parents’ home, I decided to buy a motorbike which has become handy for me as I conduct my business. It has made it easy for me to swiftly move,” said Miss Sibanda.
Ministry of Women Affairs, Community, Small and Medium Enterprises Development, Matabeleland South provincial development coordinator Ms Murjury Skhundla, said women empowerment was an enabler to economic development.
She said Vusanani Cooperative was a testimony that empowered women were a vehicle for development in communities.
“As a Ministry we will continue working with women. Because when you empower a woman you are empowering a community. As a Ministry we have various programmes that can be accessed by women as they forge ahead with the developmental agenda. We also offer them financial literacy advice which is key in running successful businesses,” she [email protected]