Looking Good, Feeling Good

>> Authored by Tess Murphy (Kiva Fellow)

Farirai welcomes us into her kitchen with a smile and claps her hands together in the traditional Zimbabwean greeting, marara sei. The floral plates lining the wall and the neat order of all the utensils show that this kitchen is a source of pride.

The best word to describe Farirai is pride. She is proud of the home she helped build for her family. She is proud of this beautiful clay kitchen and of the support she provides to her family through her business. She is proud she started a poultry business after knowing very little about chickens and that in addition to her business she is a learner guide and teacher in her village.

As we sit around the fire, with Farirai’s daughter on her lap and her orphaned nephew next to her, she describes the transformation of her life post-loan.

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“I’m so much more confident in how I dress. I am able to continue to grow my business now that Ive repaid my loan.

Farirai went from blindly building a chicken coop to successfully operating a poultry business through training and hard work. She received her first Kiva loan through Camfed in October 2013 and started with 15-20 chickens. With the profits from raising and selling the first batch of chickens, Farirai bought a second batch, paid for her children’s school fees and bought food.

At the time, Farirai’s main challenge was a lack of knowledge and skill for the business. However, she took a training course to learn more about running a successful poultry business but added that it continues to be a learning process.

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Farirai has encountered many challenges along the way, especially the climate changes in the area, which bring diseases to the chickens. Despite these challenges, she is one of the most successful learner guides in the district.  A learner guide is a woman who took out a loan through Camfed and pays off the ‘interest’ of that loan in the form of volunteer work and teaching.

As a learner guide, Farirai volunteers as a teacher at the local high school.  She teaches the ‘Better World Program,’ a program that focuses on specific skill-sets that can be applied in real life situations outside of school. Farirai is a huge asset to the “Better World Program”; having successfully started her own business, with little experience. The program also stresses the need to stay in school and remain positive and hopeful. Farirai adds that, “business is the one thing that can empower women. It helps to reduce their poverty”.

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Farirai shares her success by attending Camfed meetings and encouraging the younger girls to stay in school, or advising other learner guides on the best business practices. I try to lead by example Farirai tells me. I encourage young girls to work harder, to contribute and give back. I also tell the learner guides that it is never too late.

I dont have to wait for my husband for money. I can do what I want, I eat what I want, I use my phone how I want.

She is living proof of the ‘look good, feel good’ mantra. Farira’s home is designed with care, she is well dressed and her business records are meticulous.

With another loan, Id like to open a retail shop and manage two businesses. It is my hope that I can continue to pay my childrens school fees, that they are healthy and have food.

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