On the 30th of March 2020, Zimbabwe came to a standstill when the President announced a total lockdown due to the Covid-19 pandemic. All business sectors, except for essential services, were closed. Most entrepreneurs from Mbare who lived on a hand-to-mouth basis were left stranded, as they did not have other sources of income for sustenance apart from their businesses.
This tragedy did not spare Sydney Parwaringira, a 48-year-old entrepreneur from Mbare who runs a belts, sandals, wallets, and adhesives-making business. “I did not know what to do after the announcement of the lockdown, as I used to fend for my family through my business,” Sydney said with a sad face.
Sydney and his wife have four children who are still in school. As the family’s breadwinner, Sydney used his income to buy food for his family. The lockdown had a negative impact on him, as he was now struggling to fend for his family. ‘’I remember having to use my business capital to sustain my family since I did not have other means for providence.”
Financial Assistance: A Lifeline
In 2021, GOAL, in partnership with Childline and the Musasa Project, received funding from USAID for the UPLIFT/SIMUDZA project. The funds were meant to ease the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic on entrepreneurs in Mbare and reduce negative coping strategies that many members of the community were restoring to.
After applying for some small grants that the UPLIFT/SIMUDZA programme offered, Sydney received a grant of US $200 to reinvest into his business. Together with other entrepreneurs that had applied for the small business grant, Sydney also received a two-and-a-half-day business management and financial literacy training course.
‘’When I got my grant, I invested US $100 into my leather products business. Through the training that I received, I started a management business with the remaining US $100 as a means to diversify my income base. My income has now increased to an average of US $200 per week from the US $60 that I used to make,” said Sydney.
A Business Revived
With the business management training that Sydney received, he has managed to broaden his customer base to people in towns that are as far as 200km away from him. As Sydney’s business ventures are growing from the capital injection he got from the UPLIFT/SIMUDZA program, he has managed to employ two people to assist him.
“I did not anticipate this growth in my life, I am grateful to USAID and GOAL for the support, I can now employ and help other households improve their income. I hope to expand my businesses and open shops in other cities outside Harare,” said Sydney.
The UPLIFT/SIMUDZA project has managed to impact more than 800 entrepreneurs in Mbare to resuscitate their businesses that have been affected by Covid-19 through small business grants.