19 May, 2022

“We were living from hand to mouth, barely able to afford money for food and school fees.”

Shupikai sits in the shade of her mudbrick home, a wide smile on her face. The two youngest of her five children play in the open area beside her home, their laughter drifting over. Her granddaughter is sleeping peacefully inside.

“My husband and I used to live in Harare,” Shupikai says. “After some time, business became very bad and we had no money to survive or afford to stay in town anymore. So we relocated back here to the village.”

But life in the village was not much better for Shupikai and her family. They made their living by farming, but there was never enough money to see to their basic needs.

Shupikai and her family struggled to have enough to eat

“I am not formally employed,” she says. “I only practise farming as a means of survival.”

When ADRA began working in Shupikai’s village, she was eager to participate. She joined the village savings and loan association where ADRA taught participants how to save, pool money, and lend it to members to give them the financial resources they needed to kickstart their business endeavours.  ADRA’s project in Zimbabwe is supported by the Australian Government through the Australian NGO Cooperation Program (ANCP).

Together with ADRA’s animal rearing and farming training, Shupikai began to see options for her future.

“ADRA taught us better farming methods and also taught us to raise animals properly,” Shupikai says. “I borrowed money and invested in a chicken project. We have also been able to buy fertilisers to boost our farming project.”

“We did not know, for example, that you can store mangoes and have them during the off season. These are some of the many lessons we learnt from ADRA!”

Shupikai making a meal while minding her granddaughter

“I have now made it part of my job to teach other people about the savings and lending system within different villages as well as ideas on projects they can invest in to get good sustainable returns,” she says.

Kumbirai Kufa, ADRA Zimbabwe Project Officer – Agronomist, says the team have been impressed by how successful village leaders like Shupikai have been in mobilising their communities for change.

“[Shupikai] has been trained, and now she is a leader in helping others in the community,” he says. “She is now well equipped, so she can help others in spreading and educating their methodology on their village to save.

“It’s amazing and a bit surprising that from the training we have done, they are able to mobilise their communities into groups.”

Kumbirai says that up to 20 groups, including men, women, and people with disabilities, have been organised well and are able to save. In four months, some groups were able to save up to $900.

“They are also keen to venture into production and horticulture,” he says. “Overall, they have got some income in their pockets, they are now able to send their kids to school, and they are able to provide better nutrition for their families.”

These changes in Shupikai’s life have not only brought financial security for her family but have also given her confidence in her personal growth.

“I am happy as a woman because I am now so confident to stand in front of communities of men and women to share with them the things I have learnt from ADRA,” Shupikai says. “I am so happy that I can engage in projects to better my life and that of my family.”

Shupikai’s family is experiencing good health and her children have opportunities in their future

“If ADRA had not come, we would definitely not be where we are today. We would be so behind in our progress. ADRA helped shape our vision and now we know where we are going in.”

Out of the 354 ADRA participants in Shupikai’s region, 271 are women. These women, just like Shupikai, want to give their children a brighter future and are grateful for the opportunity to change their circumstances.

You can watch Shupikai’s full story here.

UPDATE: June 2023

Shupikai is sharing what she has learned and has started five VSLA groups. One of her groups, the GoodHope VSLA ladies, are now calling themselves the “ADRA Queens”. Who could blame them? For the past two years, they put their money together and had successful shareouts.

Shupikai with one of her VSLA groups, the “ADRA Queens”

Their incomes have greatly improved. Some are sending their children to college and others have started thriving small businesses. They plan to keep going and even increase their share price in the upcoming round.

None of this would be possible without your support. Thank you for helping mothers like Shupikai build a brighter future.

Your gift today can provide mothers like Shupikai with the skills and resources they need to build a brighter future for themselves, their families and their communities. Donate today at adra.org.au/donate.