The United Methodist Church in Zimbabwe has collaborated with Homelink for a workshop aimed at teaching women entrepreneurship skills.
The goal of the five-day workshop, held at Harare Institute of Technology, is to empower female church members to start their own businesses. The women learned how to draft their own proposals and secure loans from financial institutions.
Women were encouraged to venture into male-dominated projects such as commercial fishing and mining. One project focused on supplying disposable and eco-friendly packaging for takeout food at an affordable price.
The hope is that the church would also benefit financially from the women’s new skills.
“The church coffers have dwindled to the extent that operations have been affected, hence the need to empower women with entrepreneurship skills with the hope that they would plough back to the church,” said Mutsa Mujaji, stewardship and temperance committee chair.
Although some women had the skills to start businesses, he said capital remained a challenge.
“We want to thank Homelink for coming up with the offer as some of our people had the skills but did not have the capital to start the businesses,” Mujaji said.
Homelink, an arm of Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, provides financial and property services in Zimbabwe, including short-term loans.
Mujaji said upon satisfying the money-lending institution’s requirements, the beneficiaries would start receiving the loans per their proposals.
Grace Tsikai, one of the workshop’s participants, lauded the training.
“We have benefited a lot as the workshop has empowered the women toward starting their own businesses as opposed to looking for employment,” she said. “The economic situation we are faced with needs capital projects that continuously generate funds for a living,” she said.
The first workshop took place in late September and another session is planned in the first quarter of 2018.
The church modeled its program after a Zimbabwean government initiative, led by the Ministry of Women Affairs, Gender and Community Development, that helps women start income-generating activities. Through Internal Savings and Lending training, women are able to form clusters, pull their financial resources together and start businesses.
Chingwe is communications coordinator for the Zimbabwe East Annual Conference.