In Zimbabwe, what began as a small sewing project for four women in the town of Mutare seems to be destined for greater heights. The quartet makes clothes for adults and children and they also make curtains. However the entrepreneurs say they're concerned that the unstable political situation could harm their business. Voice of America English to Africa reporter Loirdham Moyo in Mutare says the Batanai Madzimai Sewing Club -- which means "Women Unite" -- was established in 2002. Since then it's grown by leaps and bounds.
One of its members, who introduced herself as Mrs Mucherechedzo,
says she expects their modest success to continue as long as they don't run out
of sewing machines:
"We are faced with a problem of
inadequate sewing machines. Clothing material is now expensive which is
affecting our business. If we could have more machines and have quality
clothing material at affordable prices we would do better."
Another club member, Chamunorwa
Rwafa, says the group needs a bigger and better working environment as their
current base is too small. She complains they – like everyone else – are being
charged rent in foreign currency. Rwafa
says they'd do much better if they were able to get a loan from a bank, "At the
moment we are working a small place but our wish is to have a bigger place.
Another thing is to get access to a loan to enable us to buy cloth in large
quantities, which is cheaper. "
She adds the group's inspired by
the shared belief that without pain, or effort, there's no gain. But her friend, Mrs Muneri, says
she dreads the increasingly frequent machine breakdowns:
"Our sewing machines break down now and again which impacts negatively on our work. At times this causes a loss of business because it takes us longer to finish while money loses values in Zimbabwe's highly inflationary environment. In addition, it is costly to repair the machines."
The group manages to stay afloat thanks to busy or "peak" times during the year. Club member Sandra Gadzai says business is always brisk before schools open and the run up to Christmas:
"We are busy at the opening of schools as parents look for uniforms for their children. At year end during the festive season we are busy as well as people would be looking for new clothes for christmas and new year periods. "
The women say they believe their business will improve even further if unity government talks, between Zanu PF and the two MDC factions, are successful.