THE Ministry of Women Affairs, Gender and Community Development has to date registered 600 cooperatives in its data base with a membership of over three million people under the sector countrywide. Women Affairs Minister, Dr Sithembiso Nyoni, revealed this during an AFM Church’s royal queen conference at Chatsworth in Gutu, an event that was also graced by First Lady, Auxillia Mnangagwa.
Dr Nyoni said a total of 7 131 women in Masvingo had opened accounts with the recently established Zimbabwe Women Microfinance Bank (ZWMB) as part of Government efforts to promote women and community development initiatives.
“My Ministry has many departments but I will zero in on empowerment. Women should have their own business so that we are not oppressed but being submissive to our husbands. Women need training and my ministry is ready to provide that training wherever you are as congregants,” she said.
“So far, we administer more than 600 cooperatives across the country with a membership of at least three million people. In Masvingo province, 7 131 women have opened accounts with Zimbabwe Women Microfinance Bank (ZWMB).”
Dr Nyoni said people in Masvingo had also formed and registered fishing projects at the multi-million Tugwi-Mukosi Dam with many beneficiaries coming from Chivi District. She said the province had close to 260 fishing co-operatives of which 128 were in Chivi.
“As women in church you can also buy cages at the dam, to be part of fishery projects and also form savings cooperatives where you save your money,” said Dr Nyoni.
She said Government through her ministry had established incubation hubs to provide platforms to equip women with different hands-on skills. The incubation hubs, she said, were located in Harare and other major cities.
“We have enough incubation hubs that can train women on how to bake bread whose price is beyond the reach of many. In addition, we also want to promote our traditional food through cultural food festivals that we will hold next week. Our First Lady, Amai Auxillia Mnangagwa is spearheading this.
“We also market your products at the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair (ZITF), provincial fairs and I also encourage you as AFM to do your own fairs,” said Dr Nyoni.
She acknowledged that some women were short-changed in certain business deals but said Government was committed to economically empower them through the introduction of financial facilities to improve access to funding.
Dr Nyoni said women can also make use of the Small and Medium Enterprises Development Corporation (SMEDCO) to access funding for their cooperatives.
“We also have a community development fund and women development fund. This fund is accessed through the ministry. In every ward, we have our officers who can assist you to access financial services.
“In Masvingo, we have partners that work with the Women’s Bank such as Metbank and NetOne, which provides a mobile platform for account holders. Women can use their phones to apply for loans,” she said.–chronicle.co.zw