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Beitbridge women use poverty relief funds to start businesses



JACQUELINE Mbedzi’s face lights up when she talks about how she built her thriving business from monthly payments under a programme meant to alleviate poverty among Zimbabwe’s vulnerable households.

Mbedzi, a single mother of two from Beitbridge’s high-density suburb of Dulivhadzimu, is one of many beneficiaries of the Emergency Social Cash Transfer (ESCT) programme, rolled out by the ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare with Unicef and partners, and funded by Germany through the KfW Development Bank.

After enrolling on the programme last year, Mbedzi persuaded two friends to start a savings club from the ESCT monthly payouts to raise capital to start their businesses.
“I live with my two children, my brother and my sister as well as my landlord’s child,” Mbedzi said.

“I used to survive by helping travellers with their luggage at the border for a small fee until I met a team from Unicef and partners, who registered me for the cash transfer programme. I was getting US$52 a month and I decided to engage my friends on how we could improve our lives. We decided to start a savings club to pool together money to recapitalise our small-scale businesses.”

Mbedzi buys and sells basic commodities that she imports from neighbouring South Africa. So successful is her business that she is now building a shop on land that she bought as far back as in 2017 at her rural home in Mzingwane, in Beitbridge district.

Mbedzi religiously keeps records of her transactions to monitor the progress of her business and to avoid eating into her capital reserves.

“I am so thankful to Unicef and its partners for what they have done for my family,” she said.
“They have given me dignity. I want to encourage fellow women to take full advantage of such opportunities and spend the money on things that will benefit them in future instead of focusing on their immediate needs.”

Mbedzi said she no longer struggles to put food on the table for her children and can pay their schools fees on time. The other members of the savings club run a truck-shop and a poultry project respectively. — UNICEF.

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