Women in business face Covid-19 setbacks

by Loveness Nyathi

REELING from the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, women’s entrepreneurial grouping, Inotho Kubomama is struggling to get back on its feet after members used reserve funds during the lockdown.

Inotho Kubomama director, Mrs Nonceba Mwedzi-Agwaniru said the lockdown forced most of their members to dig into their reserve funds as little income was coming into their coffers.

The grouping is made up of over 500 women who pooled resources and ventured into various businesses that include farming, cross border trade, vending and some are turning to small scale mining.

“We are mainly focused on farming with poultry and horticulture being the main projects we are working on right now. After the lockdown, we saw a decline in income forcing members to use reserved funds. We now need to buy feed and inputs for the horticulture section but we do not have the funds.

“The reduction in income hampered the smooth running of the projects and we need $200 000 to resume operating levels that we had reached before the lockdown. It will be worse for the cross-border traders as their venture has ground to a halt,” said Mwedzi-Agwaniru.

“Most of our members are single mothers and widows hence the brunt to feed the family lies on them.”

She said it will be a tall order raising the funds as they previously have had challenges in securing finance with several financial institutions demanding collateral which they do not have.

Mwedzi-Agwaniru said livestock and poultry feed has been one of the most expensive inputs for their projects and they are hoping to secure land where they can grow various grains they can turn into feed.

Casandra Mahala, who is into poultry, said she needed $25 0000 to revive her project which accommodates 200 chickens.

“Most of my targeted consumers have not been operating during this lockdown period. They only started operating when it was eased, but this meant they delay making payments hence it affected me negatively as prices of inputs went up.

“There has also been depressed demand for white meat due to the travelling restrictions,” she said.

Julia Chigumira said with borders closed she has been unable to restock for her clothing business while sales have been at zero and she has had to rely on savings to feed her family and pay rentals wiping out the money she had been hoping to use to restock.

Mwedzi-Agwaniru revealed the horticulture section where they are producing carrots, spinach, onions and beetroot had fared much better with people buying their merchandise.

“On the horticulture side things have been much better and we are harvesting various vegetables that have found ready markets and we hope to continue on that front,” she added.