Zimele – South Africa

Post a Comment » Written on December 16th, 2011     
Filed under: Community Development
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KwaZulu-Natal, a community in South Africa, faces a frightening statistic: more than 78% of its population is victim to severe poverty. This number is even more staggering for women in the community. Yet there is hope: in partnership with Zimele, Covenant World Relief is working with more than 700 women in KwaZulu-Natal to bring about transformational community development in a three-step process.

The first (and biggest) component of this project is that these women are in self-help groups. The self-help groups consist of 10-20 women who meet weekly with the purpose of developing skills to start their own craft and agriculture businesses to generate income for their families. In the second phase, self-help groups will work together to pool resources in to build larger-scale business like craft markets and community agriculture, and to address community needs, orphaned children and victims of HIV/AIDS. In the third phase, women create a conglomerate to advocate for social, economic, and healthcare reforms in their communities.

This three-step process is a proven community development program model. Through this model, Zimele is creating long-term, sustainable solutions to poverty that can be replicated throughout South Africa.

Here is a story of this process at work. This story comes from an update we received from Zimele about a woman named Doris Ncobo (pictured in back):

“One of the most unassuming members of the groups we are currently training in Swayimane is our highest earner. Doris Ncobo began with Zimele back in 2007 and she was then married with 3 primary school girls and a boy just in high school. At the time she was managing her household on a disability grant and child grants coming into the family. She also started to sell meat to supplement her income and in the year of 2010 she made R600 from her business which is a small amount of an extra R50 per month. Through the SHG savings groups she also borrowed enough to buy a stove, which made a big difference from cooking on an open fire with wood.

Doris started on the Craft Programme at the beginning of this year 2011. Our first training with the groups started in February and March, and the main training happened in May and June. At the time of the training Doris appeared to be very shy and somewhat slow at what she was learning. Well we were to be proved wrong. Doris persevered and became one of the best crafters and highest producers of her group. When we were buying stock in order to have items to take to trade shows, it was Doris who consistently had the highest standard and amount of work. In June she earned an amount of R870 for the month, which went up 30%in July when she earned R1185 for the month and it increased in August again to an amount of R1440 (something that well exceeds her yearly income from meat sales). These amounts certainly add to her monthly income and have increased her ability to buy food and provide for school going children with clothing, as well as pay for the family health care needs.”

To give to this project, click here.

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