Covid-19 Pandemic Creates New Opportunities For Enterprising Zimbabweans

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SOME enterprising Zimbabweans are building new businesses or adapting old ones to make ends meet during the current Covid-19 pandemic.

In Zimbabwe, 22-year-old Seviria Taedza has found success as an entrepreneur since the country imposed lockdowns in March.

The second youngest in a family of six daughters and a member of Gweru West United Methodist Church, Taedza learned to make detergent at a girls’ empowerment workshop organised by the Zimbabwe Area’s Ministry with Women, Youth, and Children.

The training took place in early March and was funded through a grant from the United Methodist Committee on Relief, said Tendai Rebecca Gurupira, coordinator for the ministry.

“The church’s main objective is to empower youths in entrepreneurship and for them to stand against gender-based violence,” Gurupira said.

She said she is impressed by how Taedza changed her life by putting into practice the skills she gained during the workshop.

“In a very short space of time, her business has boomed, transforming her life, family, and church for the better.”

A recent graduate with a diploma in metallurgy (mineral processing), Taedza said with the unemployment rate in Zimbabwe at 90%, new graduates are having a tough time.

She said the church training gave her a leg up.

“When I was trained, I saw a light at the end of the tunnel. I started my project in May 2020 (and) since then, my production and income are increasing steadily,” she said.

She said she sells to individuals and small grocery shops and has experimented with ratios and scents to make her products stand out.

“I have branded my products as Sevsoft petroleum jelly in 100-millimeter bottles and Sevshine dishwashing liquid,” Taedza said.

The Rev. Munyaradzi Ndaradzi, pastor in charge at Gweru West United Methodist Church, praised Taedza for her efforts, which he believes will motivate others.

“What she has done will raise the flag of UMC high and will give other youths the desire and eagerness to follow suit,” Ndaradzi said. “Her success story will be a source of motivation to someone who feared to start a business.”

He said Taedza also is giving back to the church with the money she has made.

“So far, Seviria has managed to repair the church window panes, thus taking good care of the house of the Lord,” he said, noting that she participates in tithing and makes other donations when possible.

Taedza also has been able to take care of small expenses at home.

Her mother, Muidzo Taedza, said she has seen a great transformation in her daughter.

“I no longer financially support her. Instead, she is meeting some of the basic household needs and expenses. She has become a role model to her siblings and the society at large,” she said.

“We will always be indebted to God and the church for unearthing her talent. I never knew that she had the potential to start a business like this.”

Muidzo Taendza said she and the rest of the family are helping to nurture the business.

“After my household chores (as I am unemployed), I help her to prepare, package, advertise, and sell her products.”

Seviria Taendza said she plans to take what she’s learned from the church and expand her business.

“My wish is to grow big and have my own manufacturing company and be able to supply to different areas around the globe,” she said.

In Zimbabwe, with markets closed during the lockdown to stop the spread of the coronavirus, those who sell their wares have had to adapt their business plans.

Tendai Kativhu, connectional ministries chair at Mainway Meadows United Methodist Church in Harare, said he has been building relationships during the pandemic.

“While the global world is closed, I have managed to plan, create, position, and promote my products and services in a global market through social media networking. I have made a lot of relationships with more than 200 people, some of them I never knew before. This has helped me to open doors to more opportunities,” he said.

He said he has been able to sell his aloe products to people outside the country, allowing him to expand his business.

“Network marketing (has) transformed me from being an employee to being an entrepreneur. It has given me the freedom and time to do what I want and how I want it,” he said.