Revolving cash cooperatives transform lives of Zimbabwean women

Spread This News

By Anadolu Agency

HARARE: Revolving cash cooperatives, known as Mukando, have transformed the lives of Zimbabwean rural women, as the country marks World Cooperative Day on Saturday.

Mukando is a local word of the Shona community, meaning “to throw into one pot,” and refers to a cooperative concept whereby members contribute equal amounts of money and on a revolving basis, each member is given.

Some cooperatives allow members to contribute and allow the same members to borrow with interest and after a specified time, the total amount is then shared among members who use the money to start businesses.

In Zimbabwe, such cooperatives are said to be transforming the lives of many rural women and like bush fire, the concept is spreading to every corner of the country.

Edna Mukurazhizha, the leader of the Empowered Woman Excel Savings and Credit Cooperative Society, told Anadolu Agency that only 14% of Zimbabwean women have access to bank loans.

“Mukando is giving women access to capital by saving small amounts of money and cash cooperatives allow their seed to grow.

“This has empowered a number of rural women into becoming small entrepreneurs in their own right,” Mukurazhizha said.

“Using the same revolving concept, some women are now buying each other cars, housing stands, or building material,” a beneficiary of Mukando, Tsitsi Gumbo added.


Anadolu Agency spoke to Kuraichi Maulana, a 36-year-old woman living on the periphery of the capital Harare, who testified that Mukando has transformed her life.

“I started by contributing very small amounts of money and when it was my turn to receive, I started running a vegetable market.

“The profits were very small at the market but I continued to participate until I moved to a groceries market,” Maulana said.

The more she participated the more her capital base expanded, and within a year of starting her groceries market, she opened a small shop.

“The groceries were then scarce in the country and I was ordering my goods from South Africa.

“I pushed huge volumes of groceries and this allowed my business to grow, such that the next year, I participated in another Mukando that bought me a car,” she said.

Maulana revealed that her husband only started to appreciate the significance of Mukando when she saw the car bought with the cooperative money.

The car was turned into a taxi and proceeds from the car were also used to buy another car as there was a gap in the transportation industry then.

Owing to that support from her husband, Maulana is now a proud owner of a house, two vehicles, and is also about to open a hardware shop soon, using the funds raised through Mukando.

This, she said, has been achieved over a period of six years.

Michell Dama stays in Banket — a small agricultural town 103 kilometers (64 miles) west of Harare — and is another woman whose life has been transformed through the cooperative.

“I am running a groceries and bakery shop in Banket after a number of years of participating in Mukando. We now have different Mukando and women are buying housing stands, cars, and they are starting businesses and I’m one proud beneficiary,” Mitchell said.

Several women who spoke to Anadolu Agency testified that Mukando has taken away the fear of launching business projects in the absence of bank loans or help from men.

While the success stories differ and are at various levels, Mukando has bridged huge gaps in a country whose economy is also struggling, the head of the cooperative society Mukurazhizha stressed.

Benefits of Mukando

The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe recently announced that women constitute 51% of the total population but only 14% have access to capital through banks.

So, Mukando is a way of giving women access to capital as banks also require collateral or security which most women do not have,” Mukurazhizha noted.

“We noticed that the best way is to allow women to come together to help each other buy stands for houses, cars and even start a number of projects through Mukando, which does not demand such collateral,” she added.

Mukurazhizha has been into banking for 15 years now and through her expertise, she is teaching fellow women financial management and discipline.

She gave the example of South Africa where the economy allows any person who is employed and meet the requirement to get a loan and buy a house or a car, unlike in Zimbabwe.

“In Zimbabwe, for one to start a business, buy a car or a housing stand, they require cash but as most women are marginalized, only Mukando is helping them transform their lives,” she added.

“We have created a data base of all women who are taking part in Mukando though our society and coached them, and I must say, the fear of losing money if certain people default, is minimal.

“We make sure someone does not commit herself to a scheme she would not be able to fulfil, we look at her earnings, and also guide her on how to grow her capital until she fully grows,” Mukurazhizha told Anadolu Agency.