Women Hairdressers Strive For Survival

As a hairdresser without any financial assistance from banks and the government, Chenai has to confront unemployment which above 80 percent haunting majority of the population.

The 33 year old Chenai, also a single mother has to tender for two children aged seven and ten year respectively left in her custody following the death of her husband due to tuberculosis five years ago.

A graduate from back yard hairdressing training centre based at Chikangwe high density suburb, she is now renting a space that she shares with a barber and a tailor in Karoi central business centre.

These shops are sprouting the central business centre that is now a ghost town following closure of major companies.

The farming town situated about 204 kilometers northwest of Harare thrived by supplying farming equipment to farmers before the controversial land reform in

‘’We contributed money to buy a generator to lure customers without challenges of power cuts that is now part of life here. But things are tough as few customers are turning up.’’ she says.

Chenai is striving to make a difference for her family and admits that the recent bonus offered to mostly uniformed forces by the government is still yet make to any difference.

“We hope that if civil servants get bonuses, we will get business, but now we are looking forward to yet another tough year ahead of us’’ she adds.

Her neighbor Rudo Mutero adds that they have made efforts to get financial assistance from local banks as well as government programs but to no avail.

Banks demand that they must have a good track record of monthly deposits to be assured of repayment.

“We can not just give out loans without guarantee that it will be refunded’’ says a bank official who declines to be named for professional reasons.

Out of desperation, Mutero says “our business is not considered viable for funding by banks and Government programs but they are small enterprises that need support.’’

These are working class women here, but Mutero admits sometimes they can go home empty handed.

A Youth, Gender and Indigenisation ministry official says these are not some of the projects they focus to recommend for funding.

‘‘Loans do not come easily. We need to be assured if it is viable and Government funding is scarce, we have limitations’’ says the official who declines to be named as he has no authority to speak to the press.

He explains that many applicants fell short in the public business co-operation (PBC) funding that the ministry offered mid this year.

Hundreds of women are giving up hope to get financial injection in their small enterprises but they are striving to make ends meet all over the country.

“There is no hope for us on funding from any sector and we will strive from hand to mouth for our families’’ says Chenai tearfully but with resilience that she will soldier on.

Such is the reality that Chenai and many in her shoes will live up with for more years to come.