The Strategist

From Weaving Basket To Afforestation – The Efforts Of Zimbabwean Women Entrepreneurs Are Exemplary

06/30/2015 - 16:44

The entrepreneurial spirit of the Zimbabwean women of Lupane district who weave traditional basket and import them all over the world, to earn their living, is an inspirational one indeed., Lupane, Zimbabwe – 15 June 2015 – Busani Bafana reports to I.P.S about entrepreneurial enthusiasm among African women that is changing their life-style.
Bafana reports about one such woman, named Grace Ngwenya, who “effortlessly” prepares the beautifully woven baskets of “ilala palm fronds”. Ngwenya, even at the age of seventy seven is an adept worker, whose attention to detail and artistic tastes are a lesson for all, whereby she entwines the long palm strands in a methodical manner.
To an observer, watching the dexterous lady at work is a treat to one’s eyes. Her weaving movements are “swift” whereby she tugs, twirls and straightens the strands to transform them into her beautiful baskets. Moreover, Bafana remarks:
“Periodically she (Grace Ngwenya) pauses to dip the last three fingers of her right hand into a shallow tin of water that sits beside her, to wet the fibres and make them pliable.”
It is quite a sight to notice the basket take shape “under the deft motion” of Ngwenya’s graceful fingers. Her eyes for details draw special attention for creativity and neatness. Consequently, she selects the colour and decides on the shape of each basket individually and works laboriously for an entire week to give form to her imaginations. Thus, Ngwenya devotes her seven days of work to produce one such basket.
Her finished products are then sent for quality inspection, after which the selected items are packed and made ready to be shipped. The costumers for her work are situated all over the world “from Germany to the United States”. Ngwenya earns about fifty dollar a month from her livelihood, which is a small “fortune”, no doubt, but in her native village of Shabula, situated in an arid district of Zimbabwe –
“...women once counted it a blessing to earn even a few dollars in the course of several weeks.”
Thanks to the entrepreneurial enterprise of rural women like Ngwenya, the district of Lupana finds a place on the map. The “innovative basket-weaving” generates “a decent wage” for their living, besides preserving a skill that is “indigenous” to them alone. Moreover, the profit of such income are invested into “sustainable farming” – a creative solution to save food for “extreme weather” conditions.
In 1997 “a group” of village women got together to make palm strand baskets along with “other crafts” using “local forest” products in a small scale. The said produced goods were sold to tourists “along the Bulawayo-Victoria Falls road”.
However, guided by “a Peace Corp volunteer”, in the year of 2004, a fourteen “registered members” organisation, namely “the Lupane Women’s Centre”, was established which streamlined thus produced goods. At present, the centre has “3,638 members” whose monthly average earning “increased from one dollar to 50 dollars”. In fact, one such member has made a record of earning $700 in last May for “the sale of her crafts”.
The entrepreneurs that sprang “from the dry soil of Lupane District” are “tackling” simultaneously their age long problem of “hunger and livelihoods”, whereby the adept basket weavers are also turning into “breadwinners”. Hildegard Mufukare, the manager of the centre says:
“Women have bought assets from farm implements to cattle, they have taken up agricultural activities and are working together with the men to sustain their families.”
Creativity being at the helm of the drive of these enthusiastic rural entrepreneurs, the basket they weave can be used as fruit bowls or “as waste bins”. In fact, they are even attempting to create “biodegradable coffins” with these palm strands; although the acceptance rate of such idea still remains untested.
Lastly, these inspirational rural women are also taking preventive measures of saving the indigenous forest-biodiversity, whereby they have begun planting ilala palms, an indigenous species of Zimbabwe, in order to cope with “rapid” deforestation. Such entrepreneurial efforts have proven mutually beneficiary, whereby the nature around the said district is taken care of, while the women continue to grow prosperous by every passing year.