St.Bruno Doll making group – Uganda inspires fellow rural women of Zimbabwe to do business

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In Zimbabwe the potential of women in all aspects of life is far from being realised as patriarchy continues to hinder their progress. So this videoconference sought to address how women can ensure sustained in development. Says Ms. Linda Mujuru, founder – Media Center in Zimbabwe

Media Centre in Zimbabwe, an NGO advocating for improved livelihoods and better incomes of rural women held a successful Skype conference on the 30th of March 2014 alongside five marginalized women from Zimbabwe and Elthreda Yatuha from Uganda. Ms. Elthedreda is a woman entrepreneur whose successes, she largely attributes to the exposures and capacity building she received through WOUGNET training programs. She is also manages St.Bruno Doll making group in Uganda known both locally and internationally in making dolls and local handicrafts. Elthedreda shared her experiences with a group of women of Zimbabwe via a Skype conference and the experiences have been largely considered an eye opener for her counterparts.

Issues raised on the conference

The meeting was to share perspective from the experience of poor women in Uganda who have struggled along the way to become economically empowered and sustainable through different initiatives especially through the income generating projects and businesses. It was also to explore the broader impediment that limits women’s ability to independently raise money and acquire capital and supports themselves.

On questions of raising money for start ups and promoting local products or initiatives of women, Ms. Elthedreda advised that when women entrepreneurs attend meetings and workshops where they meet as a group they should bring products of what they are working on so that they can exhibit their products. She said that this could help women to market their products and hence find potential customers and sponsors. She urged women to accept criticism from clients on their products so that they can know how to improve their products.

Women were encouraged be open so that they can identify their ability to achieve their goals.

Ms. Yatuha Etheldreda of the St.Bruno Doll making group - presenting at the WOUGNET Annual Members Meeting in Kampala, 2014

Ms. Yatuha Etheldreda of the St.Bruno Doll making group – presenting at the WOUGNET Annual Members Meeting in Kampala, 2014

However the women from Zimbabwe observed that they are willing to be open and venture into some other businesses but cry foul of people who take advantage of their weaknesses once they open up. Elthedreda urged them to open up within a group as women and not to the public so that they can assist each other.

On the specific issue of how and where marginalized women could get capital to start up their business, as lack of funds is a major set back to them. Elthedreda acknowledged that they have the same problem in Uganda but urged women to start up by selling small things like tomatoes, cut the cost on what they use and save the money so that they can venture into a bigger business.

Concerns were also raised on issues like business and financial illiteracy, lack of market to sell farming and dress making products as well culture where they are not allowed to work if the husband does not work and going outside the country to order products for sale.

In response Etheldreda encouraged women to involve men or their husbands in their business so that they can understand the advantage of that business. She urged them to debunk the mentality of seeing men as strong such that that they cannot venture into business led by women. She said that this is the better way to deal with culture where women are denied to work or do any business. She also urged women to utilize Information and Communication Technologies like cellphones and computers to exchange information and ideas on what they are doing.

To conclude the conference Elthedreda highlighted that there is a need for Zimbabwean and Ugandan women to continue engaging in exchange of information and ideas on how women can be empowered.



Linda Mujuru

Media Center in Zimbabwe and Moses Owiny of WOUGNET, Uganda