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Community microfinance improving economic security in Zimbabwe

Mavis says her chickens have helped her survive lockdowns

In Zimbabwe, COVID-19 and its impacts severely disrupted livelihoods and expanded the number of extremely poor by 1.3 million in 2020. Ongoing lockdowns and the health crisis have drastically contracted people’s opportunities for earning an income, especially those in the majority informal workforce.

Australian NGO Cooperation Program (ANCP) NGO UnitingWorld and its partner MeDRA (Methodist Development and Relief Agency) have been helping community microfinance groups create lifelines for those in economic stress.

Mavis (pictured) is a member of an Internal Savings and Lending (ISAL) group in a village in Gokwe South. The group receives training from MeDRA and meets together monthly to assess their collective savings and share information.  Each member takes a turn to receive a loan from the group and invest it.

When Mavis’s turn came, she received a USD$215 loan. She discussed some ideas with her family, wanting a project that would give a large benefit, while still being able to pay back the loan to the group.

Supported by her family and the ISAL group, Mavis decided to back herself on a broiler poultry project and bought seventy-five chicks. With technical assistance from MeDRA on how to look after the broilers, she felt confident the venture would succeed.

“The chicks matured into good broilers after six weeks and they sold like hot cakes!” said Mavis.

She was able to use the earnings to expand the project right away.

“I am now doing batches of 100 broilers per cycle and earning close to US$100 each time. The project increased my family’s income, and I could pay back into the group loan. I sell at the local shopping centre to customers who come to the grinding mill or buy basic groceries at the shops. Access to Gokwe’s town center has been limited by the lockdown regulations,” she said.

Mavis now feels confident to expand and diversify her project to also include a ‘tuckshop’ that sells groceries alongside the broilers.

“Especially during this pandemic, I am so proud to be the owner of a project that is giving access to a good income. I am no longer so worried about food security and school fees for my family, as my project can meet the expenses. With proper guidance from the group and MeDRA, I feel like I can never go wrong in life. Thank you for this opportunity!”