Zimbabwe is a country of remarkable talent that desperately needs access to the world. During the first 20 years of its independence, Zimbabwe was lauded as “the bread basket of Africa” while consistently leading the continent in human development measures including literacy, health, and production. With the collapse of the Zimbabwe economy over the past decade, the country contains a large pool of talented and motivated individuals with few resources available to them. The population has a history of achievement that we are certain it is capable of reaching once again. Zimbabwe’s current isolation from the global financial marketplace makes it the most acute intersection of potential and need.
Mutare, the capital of the Manicaland Province, is our main city of operation. As one of Zimbabwe’s major cities, it is nicknamed “Zimbabwe’s Gateway to the Sea.” We chose Mutare as the setting for our launch because it provided us a talented pool of candidates while maintaining the manageability of a smaller town. Founded in 1897, the city has a rich history and has undergone several evolutions. The city sustains itself on citrus farming, mining, agriculture, hospitality and cattle ranching. Mutare is unique among Zimbabwean locations due to the vibrant cross-border exchange it enjoys: the city is minutes away from the markets of Mozambique and just a few hours from the international port of Beira on the Indian Ocean. This strategic positioning gives many of our participants greater opportunities in trade and transport, invaluable for the small enterprises that we target.
Since SKIMFI launched in Mutare on October 2010, we have impacted the lives of over 250 individuals. Examples of the trades of our beneficiaries include apparel, crafts, and agriculture. The SKIMFI lending process operates through solidarity lending and encourages female entrepreneurs to graduate from the program and become independent so their self-sufficiency is assured.
The SKIPGO program has yielded truly positive results since commencing on October 2011. There are currently 6 SKIPGO scholars in Mutare, girls who are succeeding in their academics and optimistic about the potential opportunities that their education will provide for them.