ILO partners Mat’land North entrepreneurs

THE International Labour Organisation (ILO) has initiated a programme to empower disadvantaged women, youths and the disabled through capacitating them with business ideas with a bias towards environmental management.

The Simuka-Phakama Green EnterPrize Innovation Challenge is a partnership between Government, Employers Confederation of Zimbabwe (Emcoz) and the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU). Fine Touch Consulting, a local firm contracted to conduct training of the targeted members, is moving around the country identifying potential participants.

The programme involves presentation of a project proposal whose thrust is on green business, which does not harm the environment especially in gardening, livestock rearing, sewing, honey production, recycling and waste management.

Once selected, an entrepreneur would then compete with others in the same category. Prize giving will be in February next year for the Southern Region where winners in each category will walk away US$5 000 richer. Harare will host the northern region prize giving.

The trainers recently visited Victoria Falls and Hwange to identify and assist potential small businesses. Ms Tafadzwa Mhandu from Fine Touch bemoaned low uptake by disabled members of society.

“This programme, which is funded by ILO, is targeting three groups namely women of all ages, youths between 18 and 35 years as well as the disabled. It seeks to employ the unemployed at the same time increasing production and protecting the environment through green business,” said Ms Mhandu.

The programme started last year and is in its second year. Shortlisted businesspersons will qualify for the Green EnterPrize challenge and will undergo training on how to defend project proposals and write business plans in Bulawayo.

“People are not coming in their numbers and we will continue to try and reach out to many. Our worry is that we haven’t gotten any disabled coming yet they make the core of our target people. We wish we knew how and where to look for them,” lamented Ms Mhandu.

She said the rationale of the programme was not to win but to encourage environment management and conservation. —

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