IWD SPECIAL PROFILE: Inotho KuboMama initiative empowering women from all walks of life

By Loveness Nyathi

IN a patriarchal society women have faced the brunt of being low earners and struggling to make ends meet when they lose their husbands either through death or divorce.

In Zimbabwe a myriad of challenges have seen more women becoming single mothers, struggling to make ends meet, while girls have at times been forced to become mothers of their younger siblings after being left orphaned or even mothers to their own children after teenage pregnancies. 

Having realised the struggles that women go through to raise their children alone, Mrs Noncebo Mwedzi-Agwaniru decided to form an organisation, Inotho kubomama, to assist women secure financial income streams.

While she was raised by her father, following her mother’s death, Noncebo realised the double difficulty women go through raising children alone.

“Money is the basis for the provision of a good up bringing of children. It is not about luxuries but simple basics like food, shelter, clothes and education.

“I have seen many women go through turmoil watching their kids suffer because they are not financially empowered. Some women have had to resort to prostitution not  because it’s something they want to do but rather forced by circumstances.

“But this puts them in a bad position and morally it is not the best way to raise children. We have many orphans nowadays and we also brought them on board,” she said.

Noncebo said she realised the best way would be to ensure women are financially stable through running their own enterprises without relying on donated funds.

She says there is power in knowing you would have contributed financially to the start of a venture and you would work your hardest to ensure that it does not fold.

The Bulawayo-based Inotho kuboMama charges a $21 membership fee that goes towards administration fees with members then pooling startup capital.

“We are aware our members will not always have that startup capital hence we seek alternative ways for them to get shareholding in a project such as having them provide labour which is then converted into shareholding,” she said.

Spheres they are working in include poultry, cross boarder trading, crafts, entertainment, tourism and mining.

They managed to secure fowl runs from the AFM Church in Sauerstown to start with 3000 chickens but they are facing challenges of feed with the prices having shot up recently. 

They are also doing market gardening.

One of the members involved in the scheme, a single parent,Miss Charity Dube says they are taking the project seriously and would want to see it succeed and provide a permanent source of income.

 Mrs Mwedzi-Agwaniru says they have secured markets with a local butchery.

They also travel to Dubai and Tanzania to order various items for resell in the country while there is a group of ladies who produce crafts that are sold in countries outside Zimbabwe.

She reveals that they have also ventured into mining although it is a new venture they are hoping to build on.

Mrs Mwedzi-Agwaniru said they had managed to secure a venue for some members who are dancers to operate from in Rangemore but unfortunately the owner decided to repossess the bar as they had only engaged in an informal lease arrangement.

“We leased the bar in Rangemore but because we were not sure how it would do we did not take out a formal lease.  Once it started thriving the owner decided to take it back so we are now back to the drawing board,” she adds.

Mrs Mwedzi-Agwaniru says expanding to various sectors is meant to accommodate the different talents that women possess.

In another positive development, Inotho kubomama managed to secure an agreement with E.M PowerPoint Land Developers to enable their members to buy 250 square metre stands for $6250.

 Members pay a deposit of 30 percent and the balance over a period of 24 months.

“The terms are flexible and will enable a lot of our members to own houses,” said Mrs Mwedzi-Agwaniru. 

She lamented being unable to borrow funds from the recently formed Women’s Bank saying their collateral demands have prevented them from accessing much needed revenue to sustain and expand their operations.