BY MTHANDAZO NYONI
HAND in Hand Zimbabwe (HHZ) has, since inception six years ago, managed to create more than 14 000 jobs for people in rural areas through its interventions which increases economic opportunities, an official has said.
HHZ is a non-profit organisation that helps resource-limited and marginalised people in rural communities, particularly women and youth, to create better livelihoods for themselves and their families.
In an interview with Southern Eye on Sunday, HHZ chief executive officer Felix Tete said for the past six years, they had managed to reach out to over 18 000 smallholder farmers.
“Of these, 80% are women because we have an affirmative action of supporting 80% women and the other 20% would be youth and some men,” Tete said.
“The ones that I am talking about are the ones that have undergone our six-month training of six modules and these have managed to create over 15 000 enterprises and about 14 000 jobs. So it’s quite an achievement over the years.”
The organisation was registered as a development trust in July 2015.
“So we are quite happy and proud of the work that we have done. What we are happy with also is that we are helping the communities or households and families to have coping strategies for challenges like climate change, drought, excessive rains that destroy crops, a declining economy, environmental degradation and so on,” he said.
“Instead of focusing on the environment for livelihood, they look at other options and alternatives that they obtain within the communities. So we are quite happy with that.
“What we have also done to try and help the entrepreneurs to access the market and claim a market share, we have mobilised commodity clusters that are ward-based and commodity associations that are district-based. These are helping entrepreneurs reach out to the market.”
Last week, the organisation conducted a mini-market fair for entrepreneurs in Dandanda village, Lupane, as a way of providing them with a platform to showcase their products.
More than 20 groups drawn from Lupane district took part, showcasing various products such as small livestock, bread, dried vegetables, honey, handbags, cakes, sanitisers, juices, plain buns, fruits, sugar beans, sweet potatoes, lemons, green vegetables, tomatoes and onions, just to mention a few.
Commenting on the mini-market fair, Tete said he was surprised by the number of people that came and the entrepreneurs that exhibited as well as the partners that supported them.
“What has also encouraged me is the number of entrepreneurs that have their goods being bought. It’s quite surprising. So many people and entrepreneurs coming for such a mini-fair over a distance like this, it’s quite encouraging,” he said.
Entrepreneurs said the show was a success as they managed to sell their products and share ideas.
They also urged HHZ to conduct similar shows regularly.
Under its market linkages project, HHZ seeks to reinforce access to markets and access to finance for entrepreneurs that it is supporting.
Through the project, entrepreneurs are capacitated to form cluster and commodity associations for collective efficiency in marketing. Look and learn exchange visits of cluster committees are undertaken.
Enterprise competitions are held between participating groups to enhance competitiveness.
Entrepreneurs are capacitated on market engagement, conducting market surveys including full market assessment on high value markets.
Entrepreneurs undergo training, mentoring and coaching sessions on engaging with markets to enhance their bargaining skills.
HHZ presently operates in Bulilima and Gwanda in Matabeleland South province, Lupane and Nkayi in Matabeleland North, Chirumanzu and Shurugwi in Midlands province and Chikomba district in Mashonaland East.