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We’re proud to bring you news about members of the CAMFED alumnae network, CAMA, in Zimbabwe, who are reaping the rewards of their hard work, innovation and resilience. In a time of economic uncertainty for the country, these young women continue to run successful businesses, engage in community philanthropy and share their expertise at local, national and international level. It reflects a saying we learnt from our Executive Director in Africa, Angeline Murimirwa, and her mother:

“Ndokudai tichachema mubvumbi chimvuramabwe chakatisiya takadaro” translated as, “we have been through a thunderstorm. Showers don’t frighten us.” - Mrs Mugwendere, Angeline’s mother

CAMFED alumnae come from the most marginalized families in rural communities across Zimbabwe. From nearly being denied the right to education as a result of poverty, to feeling the effects of climate change despite contributing negligibly to emissions, they have been through metaphorical and literal thunderstorms. Now, this movement of educated young women is an unstoppable force. They are using their success in enterprise to break the cycle of poverty, to support the next generation of children to go to school and succeed, to build resilience to climate shocks and to transform entire communities.

CAMA agripreneurs showcase the benefits of biofortification

On Wednesday, August 7, CAMA agripreneurs Beauty and Clarah attended a Biofortification Learning Event in Harare hosted by the Livelihood and Food Security Program, and supported by the Government of Zimbabwe, UK Aid, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Palladium, and HarvestPlus. There they represented a growing number of climate-smart specialists in our movement, to showcase the biofortified maize and beans that they grow on their farms. Developed through a rapid selective breeding process, these nutrient-rich, drought-resistant and fast-maturing (so you can harvest more in one year) crops benefit their communities in many ways. Not only providing more nourishing food and a more reliable supply, they also increase climate resilience, and are a smart business decision. Using her profits, boosted by higher yields, Clarah now employs two permanent and 18 seasonal workers.

Clarah and Beauty at the biofortification learning event

Clarah and Beauty both grew up in families relying on unpaid market gardening, but today they are successful agripreneurs. 

Esnath (in blue dress) at the 2019 Baobab Summit

Esnath (in the blue dress) pictured at the Mastercard Foundation's Baobab Summit, holding her award from The Resolution Project. 

Esnath is awarded funding and a fellowship by The Resolution Project

Esnath (also pictured top right), is another aspiring agripreneur and is currently a student in Sustainable Agriculture at EARTH University, Costa Rica, supported in her studies by CAMFED and the Mastercard Foundation. Last month, during her summer break, she travelled to Kigali, Rwanda to participate in the Mastercard Foundation’s annual Baobab Summit.

There she presented her idea to farm edible insects, including crickets and mealworms, as an affordable and sustainable source of protein. Impressing the panel with her business plan, Esnath has been awarded funding and a fellowship by The Resolution Project, allowing her to launch her insect farm, positively impacting her own future and that of many others.

Young women’s business resilience in the face of economic uncertainty

Agriculture is not the only sector in which CAMA members are reaping the fruits of their labors, bringing opportunity and prosperity to their rural communities. CAMFED staff recently met with young women to learn about their successes and challenges: We heard from one entrepreneur who owns a chain of shops, from one who runs a brick moulding business where she employs six male workers, and another who recently took delivery of her third tractor.

Against a background of fluctuating currency value and other potential challenges, these young women are working hard to make a profit, scale their businesses, support their families and communities. They are also teaching us how we can best support their endeavors, and break down the barriers to success, be it through coordinated procurement at scale, or additional training resources to help young women calculate profitability. 

We can’t prevent the thunderstorms, but we can be prepared - and together with our partners across the world, we can build a more sustainable future, led by these determined young women.

Find out how you can support more of these inspirational young leaders: Together we can #SeeGrowth.