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Wednesday, July 24, 2024

Govt paves way for women exporters in Buhera

Story by Theophilus Chuma

MORE than 5 000 rural women in Buhera are weaving their way to a sustainable future through a government-led woven basket export programme.

With expertise perfected over many generations, these elderly women weave dried reeds, transforming them into outstanding baskets that are now in huge demand in South Africa, the United Kingdom and Zambia.

79-year-old Gogo Chingwa is one of the 5 000 elderly entrepreneurs in Buhera who are working under a government-enabled export initiative targeting to develop the arts and crafts industry.

The benefits have gone beyond just making the baskets for domestic use, but an avenue to earn revenue through export earnings.

“If you look at our area, we barely get enough from farming because it’s a dry area but with these baskets, I can just make one and sell it and make more than three times what I get from produce sales. This programme has helped us here in Buhera,” said Gogo Chingwa.

Woven baskets from Buhera are part of the anchor clusters under the Next She Exporter programme being rolled out by the local trade promotion body, ZimTrade.

It is part of the broad initiative prioritised by the government that is transforming livelihoods under the mantra of Leaving No One and No Place Behind.

Another elderly entrepreneur, Gogo Matinashe said, “I am very happy that the government has opened this space for us. I have been able to improve my life by selling these baskets and earning foreign currency. It’s a programme that has worked since I joined it in 2020.”

“As a young woman, I thank the government for this opportunity which is creating employment for us. Right now, the programme has really opened avenues for growth for me and I expect even greater prospects ahead,” said a young entrepreneur, Beauty Dube.

The venture has not only ensured financial independence for these women, but they are also carving their niche in the regional and international markets.

Working with the trade promotion body, the coordinator of Next She Exporter, Ms Selina Chingore is working with women to export over 3 thousand baskets monthly.

“Through the Zimtrade programme, we have been able to get knowledge on how to utilise our product to gain from the international market. But it would not have been possible if this was not approved by President Emmerson Mnangagwa. Right now, we are exporting to South Africa, the United Kingdom, and Zambia,” said Chingore.

Women empowerment is at the core of government programmes, with the Next She Exporter initiative raising visibility for the basketry prowess in Buhera.

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