WFS repositioning women’s products into marketable produce

WFS repositioning women’s products into marketable produce
May 15 11:59 2021

The Diplomat is excited to introduce this new column where we profile organisations working on gender equality, women empowerment and poverty alleviation. In this first instalment we talk to Tsitsi Valerie Machingauta, the National Coordinator of Women’s Farming Syndicate (WFS).

What is the Women’s Farming Syndicate and your mission?
The Women’s Farming Syndicate (WFS) was established in 2011. We are an agribusiness community with over 5 000 members from different social backgrounds. Our key projects and programs include the Annual Women’s Showcase Market, weekly SMEs market, training, and market linkages.

WFS was born out of the need to build inclusive agriculture and close the gender gap, empower women to become self-sufficient and create an enabling environment for women to prosper in Zimbabwe.

Any Key achievements to date?
WFS has successfully held an annual “Women’s Showcase Market”, which promotes women led enterprises and links them to local, regional and international markets. The Showcase Market is a platform for knowledge exchange, cultural exchange and produce sales and marketing. It has greatly assisted in the revival of rural economies and quantification of women’s contribution to economic development.

Since August 2017, in partnership with Long Cheng Plaza, WFS hosted a weekly SMEs market, to create a regular platform for entrepreneurs to sell and market their products and services.

In 2018 with the support of key partners which included UNESCO Regional Office for Southern Africa, Commercial Bank of Zimbabwe, Office of the President and Cabinet, WFS held its first international “Women’s Showcase Market” in Paris, France. The event was held during UNESCO Africa week and WFS exhibited a wide range of products including edible insects like Mopane worms, flying termites, small grains, traditional teas and coffees, fashion, arts and crafts from various communities in Zimbabwe.

How has WFS impacted women entrepreneurs’ projects and livelihood?
Basing on our membership of 5000 women over a 10 year period
• 15% of women entrepreneurs invested in new technologies and ICT
• 45% of entrepreneurs developed new business partnerships
• 50% of women entrepreneurs obtained loans from banks and financial institutions
• 3 500 new jobs were created by expansion and diversification of women-led enterprises
• Women also got access to export markets in Zambia, Portugal, Germany, Australia and the United Kingdom

Has Covid-19 affected your operations in any way?
Indeed. Women have been adversely affected by covid-19 as it has led to the closure of borders and regular markets. Women in the most remote parts of the country who benefited from the annual women’s showcase market have lost business as the expos have not been held due to Covid-19 restrictions. There has been loss of income due to post harvest losses caused by poor transportation of produce and shrinking markets due to COVID restrictions. Women also had limited access to alternative markets with competitive pricing.

Women in peri-urban and rural farming communities have seen higher rates of domestic violence and abuse in this period.

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