Harnessing Youth Potential for Sustainable Livelihoods

Apr 6, 2017

In Njelele Ward 15 of Gokwe South District of Midlands Province, a group of 50 members is making a name for itself in horticulture farming. Subsequently, it has been contributing to diversifying livelihoods for the community and establishing a sustainable means of income-generation.

The group of young people (30 men and 20 women) is harnessing youth potential for sustainable livelihoods.

“The youths are hard-working and committed and they are a joy to work with. The project itself is thriving though continuous support from the relevant partners. I’m grateful for the support being channelled towards the youths by various partners and this is a sign of how well the group is performing,” says Ms Sarudzai Muzenda, the ward youth officer for Njelele 15.            

Empowered with skills development training that was facilitated by the Ministry of Small and Medium Enterprises and Cooperative Development in partnership with the NGO Technoserve, the group has won the admiration of the local administration which now sees them as catalysts for social-change and transformation.

Commending the group for this initiative, the chief of Njelele Ward Mr Misheck Njelele described the youth’s zeal and dedication to their work as outstanding and therefore, worthy of local authority backing.

“Realizing the group members’ commitment levels and the need to support youths’ efforts to embark on income generating projects, I felt the need to support the youths with a big piece of land to promote a group project concept for easier management as compared to individual gardens by group members” he said.

He went on to emphasize that efforts to improve knowledge on agricultural best practices would be easily accessed from relevant institutions owing to the high levels of commitment the youths have demonstrated on their group project. “This group project has sparked interest in other surrounding areas where youths also want the replication of such an initiative in their respective areas.”

Started in 2008, the group relied on other people’s land for production of various horticultural crops until they managed to approach the chief for a piece of land that they could call their own in 2016. Impressed by their efforts, the chief allocated them 6.5 hectares of prime land. This was coupled with assistance from the International Labour Organization (ILO) in terms of the fencing and drilling of a 63-metre borehole,  supported by a 5000 litre tank.

This development set the stage for a thriving horticulture farm. Among the crops being cultivated on the premises are green mealies, butternut, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, rape, cabbages peas and spinach.

In fact, the Spar Magic Moments at Gokwe Centre is providing a ready market for some of their produce like spinach, ensuring a reliable source of income. With seasonal profits ranging from USD 1500 to 1800, the group’s future seems to be bright.

With an eye on expansion and access to bigger markets, the Njelele Horticulture Group now seeks to be formally registered as a savings and credit cooperative organization (SACCO) to tap into the advantages that are associated with being a legal entity.

Because of the commitment shown by group members, several institutions have expressed interest in supporting them and this has seen the group receiving further training from Agritex and Technoserve in the areas of production, life skills and business management.

“Technoserve continues to support the group with several trainings to assist them to operate to the maximum of their ability” explained Mr Masunda- Programs Management Advisor, Technoserve.

 “We are grateful to the various institutions including the Ministry of Youth and Technoserve which have offered remarkable support to the group. In addition, livelihoods of 50 families are being supported from proceeds gained from the group initiative and this has created employment for a good number who were jobless and had no steady source of income,” related the Group Chairman, Mr Mafukashe.

With UNDP support, the Ministry of Small and Medium Enterprises and Cooperative Development has been supporting such income-generating groups to enhance their capacities and eventually, contribute to poverty eradication and wealth creation. Major beneficiaries of this assistance are the savings and credit cooperative organizations (SACCOS). For instance in 2016, a total of 1069 people under SACCOs umbrella received training in business management, and 1,017 in cooperative management skills. Initial results show that 60 beneficiaries in Lupane, Binga, Nkayi and Gokwe South Districts have organised themselves into 4 SACCOs now accessing micro-credit support to the tune of USD 10,000 each.