Women’s Economic Empowerment


A women's Market Fair supported by UNDP in Zimbabwe through the Bureau of Crisis Prevention and Recovery (BCPR). Photo - UNDP Zimbabwe

With its trademark ‘made in Zimbabwe’ increasingly gaining in popularity, Bulawayo, Zimbabwe’s second city, hosted the Zimbabwe Market Fair on
21-22 September, 2012. The fair aims to empower Zimbabwean women and youth by providing them with comprehensive business skills training and  a vibrant platform to sell their products. It was first held in the capital city of Harare in 2011 and attracted 134 participants from all parts of the country.

The two-day fair was naturally of great social significance. ‘I am here to claim my space as a woman,’ said Bulawayo resident Ms. Sithandazile Ncube. Once a bustling city, Bulawayo has seen a tremendous decline in business activity, a situation that translated into massive layoffs in virtually all sectors. As the economic meltdown hit a climax in the last decade, women and youth were most affected.

"For business people, especially women, the importance of the market fair lies in the exposure that we get, the opportunity of advertising our business and products and therefore accessing new markets," said Mrs. Thoko Makubile, who specializes in design and manufacture of school uniforms and
other institutional garments. She was among the 200 business people who took part in the event.

Highlights

  • The Market Fair creates a platform whereby beneficiaries can gain practical experience and improve their marketing skills
  • 134 participants from all parts of the country were involved
  • With UN WOMEN and UNDP support, each of the participants underwent pre- and postmarket fair training aimed at enhancing their capacity to exhibit and interact with customers

By creating a platform whereby beneficiaries of the market fair can gain practical experience, the event’s organizers hope it will continue on a regular basis and attain regional and international recognition once it has gained a foothold in the main urban centres of Harare, Bulawayo and Mutare.

Organised by Empretec Zimbabwe and the Kunzwana Women’s Association, the fair was supported by the Government of Zimbabwe, UN Women and UNDP. The UNDP’s contribution was part of an assistance package from the Bureau of Crisis Prevention and Recovery (BCPR) on support to vulnerable and marginalized groups.

This inter-agency collaboration, coupled with government support and involvement of the private sector as well as NGOs, was especially remarkable. For instance, with UN WOMEN and UNDP support, each of the participants underwent pre- and postmarket fair training aimed at enhancing their capacity to exhibit and interact with customers. The training also covered entrepreneurship, costing and pricing and quality control, among other key related areas.

Other organisations involved in the fair included the IOM, International Rescue Committee, Solidarités International, Caritas, TAAF Zimbabwe, ZIMTrade, ZUBU, Zvishavane Water Project, the Gender Support Programme and Harare and Bulawayo City Councils.