Princess Sewing Co-op
Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe
When Zimbabwe experienced the world’s worst case of inflation in 2008, many of the country’s inhabitants struggled to meet the basic needs of their families. Today, approximately 95% of the population of Zimbabwe is unemployed or partake in informal work on contracts or in subsistence farming. However, there is a growing movement for those with skills in trades to form cooperatives to create thriving businesses. Despite a traditional gender disparity, many Zimbabwean women are forming cooperative groups to provide services like tailoring, catering, and animal husbandry. These groups are taking matters into their own hands – creating income for their families and communities while empowering other women to build and launch their own businesses. Even with this, many of the ladies fail to make an above average normal income which ranges between $150-$300 per month, per household. There is a great need, not only for capital investments in these cooperatives in order for them to grow, but also business training and integration into the mainstream markets.
In 2017, Planeterra identified Princess Cooperative, a women-run business that focuses on tailoring services in the Victoria Falls township of Mkhosana. Our partnership with them involved providing extensive business training as well as lobbying for a business opportunity for them to G Adventures. The creation of the Princess Laundry and Mending Service in Victoria Falls makes it possible for the women in this group to increase their income while providing G Adventures’ travellers with a laundry service at a reasonable cost.
Through our partnership with the Princess Sewing Co-op, the ladies have increased business acumen that has positively impacted their business. By expanding their marketing methods as well as embarking on a small-scale expansion, thanks to a Planeterra grant, the business has shown significant potential for growth. The increase of income into their households means that the ladies can now afford to pay school fees for their children while also leading above average economic lives. The availability of increased income also means that the ladies can now continue with their studies as most of them only attained primary school levels of education. Doing so continues to open financial possibilities for these entrepreneurs, who can expand their business and potentially start new ones.
Financial freedom created by the project also fosters personal independence for the ladies as they no longer need to depend on the system of patriarchy that is the core of the communities. As single mothers and widows, the ladies of Princess have gained a sense of confidence as they now have a partnership that supports their core values. And these values include helping other women in the community in the form of sewing training and internships for other young and disadvantaged women in the community.
With the high levels of unemployment, this partnership has also helped in job creation for other women in the community. Ladies who have a clothing shop, can now afford to hire extra help with their shop, thus helping another family increase their income.