By Cheriel Dzobo| As the Covid 19 pandemic and subsequent lockdowns hit hard on Zimbabwe and the rest of the world, women in Chipinge have turned to stokvel and societies to escape from poverty and hunger.
Results of a survey conducted in Machona village, Chisumbanje ward 26 of Chipinge South, lockdowns have seriously affected women enterprises due to low economic activity.
In an interview a number of women including single mothers and widows, life has become harder as a result of COVID-19 induced lockdowns.
The situation was worsened by arbitrary displacements of villagers from their communal lands at the instigation of Green Fuel, a giant ethanol production company operating in Chisumbanje.
Ruramai a mother of three lamented that her situation was worsened when she lost her spouse.
“Ma lockdowns aya andirwadza hupenyu hwakaoma , nekuda kweCovid kufamba ndichitengesa hakuchaite zvachose dei ndiine munda ndaiita zvekurima zvangu but azvichakwanisike takatorerwa munda ngeve Green Fuel ava, raramo nevana yakurwadza kunyanya ndirindega kudai seshirikadzi, ” she lamented
A group of 12 women in Chisumbanje have since created #SHANDAUGUTE# a Stokvel project they use to generate money to use to jumpstart each other in their businesses.
“ I am a widow and when my husband passed on my children were so young yet when my husband was alive we were farmers and we survived from it, Green Fuel took my 16 hectares and I was so depressed, so I started selling but that was affected by COVID 19 restrictions,.
We then thought of ways of empowering each other, so we formed Stokvel groups which helped us to buy what we lacked,” said Vengai Mazowe from Chisumbanje.
”#SHANDAUGUTE yakandisimudzira semunhukadzi ndaiva ndisina kana mudziyo wemumba zvawo zvakare ndakadzidzawo kuchengetedza zvinhu,” said another Stokvel member Edna Ndlovu.
Tendiwe Peni from Machona village in Chisumbanje said they were trained and empowered by a local community based organisation Platform for Youth and Community Development Trust on how to run Stokvel groups, something she said has been a game changer in her struggles to make ends meet.