Matabeleland revels in self-initiated projects

Communities in Matabeleland are seeking assistance to develop self-initiated projects and individual microenterprises that have a high potential social value in the region.

Communities in Matabeleland are seeking assistance to develop self-initiated projects and individual microenterprises that have a high potential social value in the region.

The development comes after Amalima Loko expressed excitement over the positive support its programmes received from the Tinde community.

The programmes have seen communities engaging in various projects such as welding and sewing, among others.

The USAid-funded Amalima Loko operates in five districts across Matabeleland North, including Binga.

The Tinde community conceive its initiatives through the Amalima Loko’s Community Visioning process, an approach that prioritises and builds local ownership for sustainable development.

The members recently held a diaspora investment event, a platform for connecting rural communities with potential supporters in Zimbabwe and around the world.

In an interview with Southern Eye, Amalima Loko chief of party, Dominic Graham, expressed the group’s excitement over the positive response from supporters living outside the Tinde community.

“It is a significant achievement for the community to have generated such interest in their plans and (it) gives us all confidence that more communities will be able to learn from these experiences and engage with supporters themselves," he said.

“The energy and proactiveness communities showed by coming together and launching shared projects inspired the creation of this event.”

The diaspora investment event held on April 25, focused on the Tinde community and is expected to be the first of many that will involve communities across the five districts in which Amalima Loko operates.

“It was a pilot event and we are thrilled at its success and grateful to the many individuals and businesses that are now supporting the community,” Graham said.

He revealed that potential partners are already coming to invest in local projects as a result of the event.

“Individual income-generating projects have immediately benefited from material donations such as hairdryers (for a salon business), grinders (for a welding business) and sewing machines (for a sewing business).

“This type of support goes a long way towards ensuring these businesses are able to achieve their ambitions and to offer valued and profitable services in their community.

“Another notable pledge, for US$40 000, was made by a mining company for the construction of Manziansiya Primary School: another community initiative.”

Graham said the school was offered textbooks by a reputable publisher.

“Again, the range of supporters coming forward reflects the positive direction in which this initiative is headed and we are confident that more is yet to come,” he said.

However, Graham said they were facing several challenges including in establishing trust between communities and outside supporters.

“There was initially very little connection between potential supporters and community initiatives. It also took time to articulate, package and present those initiatives in a coherent way that external supporters could easily understand and value,” he said.

“Amalima Loko worked closely with the Tinde community, coaching it how to refine its proposals, ensuring a balance between financial viability and community aspirations both for the individual business ideas and for the bigger community initiatives.”

Rather than setting priorities externally through a top-down process, Community Visioning empowers local residents to set the course for their community by defining their own priorities and working towards achieving them.

Following the success of the diaspora investment event, Amalima Loko plans to run similar events with communities in Tsholotsho, Lupane, Nkayi and Hwange.

 “We hope that, by learning from this experience, we can together find ways to further improve engagement between communities and supporters wherever they may be,” Graham said.

Graham said they had invited potential supporters both physically and virtually with the event attracting people from as far as South Africa the UK and Australia.

The event was sponsored by Consulting Publishing Services, Tregers, Mr Sinkwa, Utande, Steward Bank and Kamativi Mining Company.

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