This is why we are here – to work with people, particularly women and vulnerable children – to transform their lives and build sustainable livelihoods. That they may beg no more but extend their hands to give.
This is probably what most governments and NGOs are trying to do. We play our part by working with individuals and households to acquire both the technical skills to earn a living and the self-confidence to succeed.
As part of our efforts to enhance food security and improve household incomes for the most vulnerable households in Zimbabwe, we are working on a pilot project to improve livelihoods, in a sustainable manner.
The “Acres of Entrepreneurship” is a model centre where young people from vulnerable households from across Zimbabwe are provided short-term business and practical skills and linked with sources of funding and further training as may be relevant. The entire programme involves entrepreneurship training, success motivation and a venture capital scheme designed to help the participant start off a practical enterprise with the help of the “Acres of Entrepreneurship” and other partners. The three stage concept is: train, motivate and finance. The latter involves exploring many different financing mechanisms, including venture capital and crowdfunding.
The “Acres of Entrepreneurship” seeks to make available practical training and opportunities to real persons from vulnerable households and ensure that they succeed in transforming from being vulnerable to enjoying a sustainable and secure livelihood. While other actors act at a macro-level, we act at a micro-level, targeting individual households identified through the National Programme for Orphans and Vulnerable Children (funded by UNICEF), competitive public business idea competitions for youth or through other networks such as the gender-based civil society platforms.
While this approach is our effort, it will not succeed without the investment of faith and resources by other actors.
The effort involves:
1. Developing a business skills/innovation village “Acres of Entrepreneurship” – situated on a 5+ acre plot with space for demonstrating small projects such as poultry, piggery, ICTs and technical skills such as conservation agriculture, carpentry, hotel/catering, ICTs, among others. The facility will provide residential training, so it will comprise of several chalets to cater for participants and other guests – the later helping sustain the village and keep standards appropriate.
2. Strategic partnerships with finance houses and donors to create a fund for entrepreneurs developed through this system. This also include partnerships with other training institutions to provide specialist services/trainings and with success motivation companies or individual people who are role models.
3. Selection of vulnerable groups through the NAP for OVCs platform, public processes or other civil society referral channels
4. Provision of short-term training and entrepreneurship/livelihood coaching and convening of monthly entrepreneurship forums and where possible exchange visits locally and internationally.