Yeukai Tazira Herald Reporter
The Zimbabwe Women’s Microfinance Bank (ZWMB) has partnered with community bakeries in Bulawayo, and is calling on women across the country to organise into groups and benefit from the scheme aimed at promoting the production of affordable bread.
Already, over 100 women in Bulawayo have benefited from a financial package.
The women were organised into groups of 10 to 50, with each group getting a tonne of flour, baking trays and other ingredients.
The programme is being supported by the Ministry of Women’s Affairs, Community, Small and Medium Enterprises Development.
ZWMB chief executive Mrs Mandas Marikanda told The Herald on Friday that women across Zimbabwe should organise themselves and take advantage of the project.
“The bakery project is not just for Bulawayo, but for everyone else in Zimbabwe,” she said.
“We, as the Women’s Bank, are going to support this project because it is helping in easing the bread challenges in Zimbabwe.
“We are there to support initiatives that allow home-grown solutions through our model by providing flour, cooking oil and all the other ingredients needed for bread making.”
Mrs Marikanda said despite the negativity that came from some people over the project, there was optimism that it will democratise bread making in Zimbabwe.
“A lot of people are criticising the baking project, yet in other countries, world over, bread is being produced in backyard ovens,” she said.
“We are there to capacitate backyard industries because they are rejuvenating manufacturing, instead of being held to ransom by a few unscrupulous retailers who are hiking prices of confectioneries.”
Minister of State for Bulawayo Provincial Affairs Judith Dube said home industries had the potential to become an economic pillar.
Beneficiaries of the project hailed the Women’s Bank and pledged to service the loans they obtained, at the stipulated time.
Zimbabwe has three major bakeries: Baker’s Inn, Proton and Lobels.
Two of the bakeries — Baker’s Inn and Lobels — are based in Harare, while Proton has its roots in Marondera.
There are concerns that their dominance of the market could be responsible for high prices as they always connive.
The bread makers distribute their bread across the length and breath of the country using delivery vans, and there are fears that the practice could also be contributing to the high prices factored as transport costs.
It is hoped that if there was going to be provincial, and even district bakeries, the price of confectioneries would markedly decline.