Bata enlists rural women as shoe merchandisers
THE country’s largest shoe manufacturer, Bata Shoe Company has partnered with a non-governmental organisation, the African Women in Developing Economies (AWIDE) to contract rural women to sell footwear on its behalf as part of its empowerment programmes.
Fifty women from rural communities across the country have benefitted from the programme dubbed the Women and Youth of Zimbabwe programme (WxYZ).
This brings to 102 registered participants from various locations, which include Binga, Hwange, Mberengwa, Matobo, Mzingwane, Buhera and Nkayi since the programme was initiated in September last year.
Bata managing director, AHM Ehsanuzzaman told Chronicle Business that the move was part of efforts by the Gweru-based shoe manufacturer to encourage entrepreneurship among rural women where there will be the principal shoe merchants for the shoe manufacturer in their immediate communities.
“We’ve provided Bata merchandise to 50 women from across the country in an endeavour to encourage entrepreneurship.
The WxYZ project is a powerful business strategy, which aims to not only empower women across the nation, but to also increase Bata Zimbabwe’s market share by developing pathways to increase availability of our products to areas in which we don’t have retail stores,” he said.
“After receiving customer care training, the women are registered as Bata merchants through AWIDE and through a customised process will place their orders to our Gweru factory and will receive their products.
We look forward to seeing this programme growing to a significant number and seeing it making tangible difference in the lives of these women.”
Sarah Bata, wife to Thomas Bata, the Bata International chairman handed over the starter kits to the women during a handover ceremony, which contained a duffle bag and 21 pairs of shoes.
She said the company was committed to making sure the project is successful so that women become significant contributors to the economic viability of their communities.
One of the beneficiaries Pontso Hove, 58, from Shangani said she has managed to fend for her family and send six orphans to school through the proceeds from the programme.
“I benefitted from this project by Bata in September last year and I’m now managing to send about six orphans to school and can afford to live a decent life.
Early this year, I managed to send my mother to South Africa who was diagnosed with cancer.
“This project has therefore empowered me tremendously,” she said.
Another beneficiary Nyasha Sithole said the WxYZ programme has opened her horizons and is now overwhelmed by the demand of the products.
She now intends to get more orders from the company .
According to the International Labour Organisation, SMEs run by women in developing economies are found to be hounded with issues to do with access to finance, skills and technology.
Although there has been an encouraging upturn in women running businesses in the past few years in Zimbabwe, experts say more needs to be done to overcome the specific factors, which discourage women in particular from starting or managing businesses.