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Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Rural Entrepreneurs Thriving Against All Odds in Zimbabwe — Global Issues

Tapera Saizi, a carpenter stationed at Juru Growth Point, has managed to take care of his family through his rural business. Credit: Jeffrey Moyo/IPS
Tapera Saizi, a carpenter stationed at Juru Growth Point, has managed to take care of his family through his rural business. Credit: Jeffrey Moyo/IPS
  • by Jeffrey Moyo (juru growth point, zimbabwe)
  • Inter Press Service

His assistant stood by his side as he (Ndukulani) cut some tough rubber from the giant tyre lying outside an open shade roofed with aging asbestos sheets at Juru Growth Point, located 52 km east of Harare in Zimbabwe’s Goromonzi district in the country’s Mashonaland East province. 

From these rubber pieces, Ndukulani, operating his entity known as Sinyoro, said he made suspension bushings for vehicles of all shapes and sizes, while he also made the same for engine mountings, a business he said he has been running for the past three years.

At a popular nightclub known as CNN, a dressmaker in his 80s was busy on his sewing machine. A pile of clothes he was mending was scattered on his old wooden table, upon which also sat his old sewing machine, branded Singer, with customers, young and old, swarming around him.

Despite business confidence being at its lowest across Zimbabwe’s towns and cities, backyard entrepreneurs’ activities in remote areas are thriving, although they are contending with their own share of hurdles amid Zimbabwe’s comatose economy.

“I make bushings for vehicle suspension and engine mounting. I have been in this business for the past three years,” Ndukulani told IPS as he wiped some sweat off his face using the back of his right hand.

He (Ndukulani) boasted of making about USD 300 to 400 each month at his workshop, housed in the shade once used as a market for vendors.

Forty-year-old Tapera Saizi, a carpenter also stationed at Juru Growth Point at his workshop named Madzibaba Furnitures, said he had come a long way with his enterprise.

For years, Juru Growth Point has become famed for its bustling activities as it teems with entrepreneurs of all shapes and sizes, some like Saizi, who is making wardrobes, kitchen cabinets, chairs, and beds.

For over two decades since the Zimbabwean government seized land from white commercial farmers in its quest to address land ownership imbalances, the economy has taken a nosedive.

Dozens of industries shut down, leading to ballooning joblessness in the country, with the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) putting the rate of unemployment at 90 percent countrywide.

ZCTU is the primary trade union federation in Zimbabwe.

Yet even so, the southern African nation’s rural dwellers have endured, stepping up with survival means amid the mounting hardships.

Like 46-year-old Mashoko Kufazvinei, a proud owner of a vehicle repair workshop at Juru Growth Point, who said he had been operating his workshop for two decades.

“I started working on this business in 2004. I was working in the Midlands, where I trained as a motor mechanic and I had to come here in 2004 to set up my business,” Kufazvinei said.

From the proceeds of his enterprise, he said he is paying for his children’s education—five of them, while his first-born son, 24-year-old Simbarashe, is already working with him after completing his high school education.

Not only that, but Kufazvinei said that thanks to his motor repair enterprise, he has also built his own rural home, and he now owns a piece of land that he bought at Juru Growth Point to build another family house.

As a Mazda open-truck vehicle drove into Kufazvinei’s workshop, he said, “I have my own car, the one you are seeing arriving here, which I bought using proceeds from this business.”

Like Saizi, who lamented that business was slow at Juru Growth Point, Kufazvinei also acknowledged that these days things were hard as vehicle owners were without money to spend on fixing their cars.

For five years, Saizi said he has been operating as a carpenter at Juru Growth Point, and just like many, such as Kufazvinei, through his carpentry business, he has managed to take care of his family, paying fees for his five school-going children.

“We don’t struggle to find at least a little money, even if we may fail to overcome all the difficulties. We won’t fail to raise money to buy basics like salt and slippers for children and other basics,” Saizi told IPS.

He used an electric planer to refine a wooden bed that he was working on while being interviewed.

But local authorities are not pleased with the rural entrepreneurs’ endeavors, blaming them for triggering disorder, particularly at Juru Growth Point.

“These backyard entrepreneurs are often dirty and they don’t want to work outside the center of the growth point where we allocate them space. They prefer being within the shopping center. Usually, the places we allocate them are far from the shops, but they want where there is activity where they can meet customers,” Rose Hondo, a revenue officer at the council office at Juru Growth Point, told IPS.

As rural entrepreneurs thrive in this southern African nation, the country’s permanent secretary in the Ministry of Industry and Commerce, Mavis Sibanda, has gone on record in the media claiming the government is scaling up rural industrialization.

IPS UN Bureau Report

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© Inter Press Service (2024) — All Rights ReservedOriginal source: Inter Press Service

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