Taking the initiative
Rebecca Rempel | Zambia
“I love business; that’s my background, my profession,” said Eva, one of the leaders of Tabitha Initiative. “To see the potential of what people can do through business—to see them empowered, and able to empower others with what they learnt—is amazing.”
Tabitha Initiative, part of Tabitha Skills and Development, a Freedom Challenge project in Kabwe, Zambia, is a business initiative that teaches women, who have previously completed basic-skills training with Tabitha, further business skills so that they can market the products they’ve learnt to make. Or, if they choose to start a business unrelated to handmade crafts, the training helps, empowers and encourages them.
After completing Business Expenses Savings Training (B.E.S.T.), where participants learn the basics of running a successful business, the ladies have to start a business with a small loan of 40 Kwacha ($4.14 USD). Though it may seem like an insignificant sum, successful businesses have been started with a similar amount.
“[The amount of the loan] is to teach them that they don’t need $5,000 to actually start a business,” explained Eva. “The idea was that the reinvestment of the profits they made could actually grow their own businesses.”
The women were asked to be creative, and the businesses ranged from them selling popcorn to buying and re-selling books, making samosas to sewing children’s clothes.
Those ready for a bigger push were told to prepare and present a business proposal for a larger loan. With the prospect of a bigger loan, came bigger ideas. A grocery stand. Raising poultry. A tailoring shop. The ladies were not given a monetary limit that they could apply for but were urged to think practically about what they could handle and pay back.
Eight ladies were given loans of varying amounts, depending on how much they requested in their proposals. The women are expected to pay back the loans in instalments every three months throughout the year and give progress reports.
Meeting once a month, the group continues to learn business strategies and share their struggles and successes as they develop as entrepreneurs. There is also time for worship, prayer and a devotion during each gathering, and each lady has been given an audio Bible to use at home and taught how to use the Discovery Bible Study method so they can replicate it in their own communities.
“It’s not only that we want to bring them forward in business,” said Eva. “It’s a road of discipleship we walk together as well.”
Patricia opened a small shop with the aid of her loan.
After the store had been opened, she found out her landlord had not been paying the property taxes, and therefore the government could close her shop at any time. Patricia went to the city council to find out how much was owed on the taxes and suggested to the landlord that she would pay the debt owed for the property taxes, instead of paying rent for the next few months until the amounts were equal.
“To see how Patricia is standing up for herself is very encouraging for me. She’s gained so much confidence since I met her two years ago,” said Eva.
The landlord hasn’t made a decision yet, but Patricia decided that if the landlord refuses to pay off the taxes, she will rent elsewhere instead of putting her business at risk.
Working as a family
When offered a chance at a larger loan, Monica didn’t know what kind of business she should propose. Her grown son Solomon was already raising chickens and suggested she follow suit, as she could benefit from his experience and share the building he had already made to contain the birds.
“When [Monica] is not around, I help her. Even my wife knows how to take care of the chicks,” said Solomon. “We are working as a family to see that we keep the chickens happy.”
After a few challenges, the family has found a rhythm in caring for the birds. The building is divided into two, and one side of the building can hold between 80 to 100 chickens, while the other side can hold up to 200. While the chicks are young, warm coals are carefully placed in the enclosure to keep them warm, and water is drawn from a nearby well to keep them hydrated. At the beginning of the cycle it takes the chicks a week or two to consume a full bag of a feed, but near the end of their six weeks, that same bag lasts just two or three days. Once grown, the chickens are sold to individuals around the community and in the local market.
With the profit from the chickens, Monica will pay the school fees for her youngest daughter to attend school.
Monica would like to advise future entrepreneurs that “you cannot start a business without preparing beforehand.”
Please pray for Eva and the Tabitha team as they teach, encourage and empower women in Kabwe. Pray that the ladies will grow in faith and skills and be a testimony within their communities. Pray that the women will dream big dreams, and that the businesses will help them achieve those dreams.
Published: Tuesday, 16 August 2016
Credit: Rebecca Rempel