S.O.S Urgent Solidarity

Creating micro-businesses to support women in Swaziland

 

Through this project one hopes to create in Manzini a multi-sector microbusiness with the following areas: a wheat plantation, a bakery and a design & printing workshop. The microbusiness is expected to incorporate 250 beneficiaries, women suffering from extreme poverty, with the aim of helping them to become integrated into the labour market and to improve their quality of life in general.

In Manzini, the most densely populated town of Swaziland, where there exist very few possibilities for self-advancement, women find themselves in a situation of profound and underlying vulnerability Those who are not financially dependent upon their husbands have to find some means of earning a little money and providing for their families. The project hopes to improve the living conditions of the women of Manzini, with special attention to those in the Remar centres (care and rehabilitation community homes for socially-marginalized and poverty-stricken women). The project consists in offering to these women, and to others with a similar background, the possibility of becoming micro entrepreneurs. This gives them the opportunity to come out of their present situation of extreme poverty and guarantees a better future for both themselves and their families As well as being the beneficiaries of the project, these women will be its chief hosts. They will be responsible for the creation of the wheat plantation, and also for the promotion and commercial management of the products they themselves prepare in the bakery and in the design & printing workshop. A small portion of the food production from the wheat plantation and the bakery will be used in the free meals centres run by Remar Swaziland in the town and in the prisons. The profit from sales will be used for the running and maintenance of the installations at the bakery and the design & printing workshop.
The project is an initiative launched by Remar Swaziland, which has been active in the country since 1993, caring for children off the streets, destitute young people and single mothers. As a fruit of its work it has achieved social recognition and the support of both the local authorities and also the local population itself for the creation of this microbusiness, which is sure to change the lives of thousands of people.

The target groups and final beneficiaries  

These are essentially unemployed women who are socially marginalised and extremely insecure. They also include a great number of single mothers with no material resources, but who survive thanks to the social work of Remar Swaziland. Nearly all of them have a low level of education with no qualifications. These women have no way of covering their basic needs, and they live in a situation of advanced poverty, vulnerable to all kinds of disease, and particularly to HIV/AIDS, which affects 39% of the population. The group of direct beneficiaries are selected by Remar Swaziland, basing the choice on principles which respect equality and non-discrimination. However, the cases of the most extreme vulnerability are given priority.
Within the framework of this project we have identified 250 women, the majority of them from the Remar Swaziland centres. Other women from different sources also take part. The selection criteria are based specifically on the degree of socio-economic vulnerability and the level of poverty of the women. Young women, single mothers, mothers of large families, widows and those who have very young children are favoured. We also take into account their entrepreneurial potential and their availability to take part in the project. The involvement of the beneficiaries will consist, firstly, in attending the compulsory training courses and, secondly, in taking care of the wheat plantation, and the running of the bakery and the design & printing workshop, in the areas of their commercial and financial management. The women will constitute the driving force of these microbusinesses. The indirect beneficiaries are the relatives (parents, children, brothers and sisters) of all those who will take part in the Project. On average, each woman has at least 5 relatives to care for. A portion of the production from the wheat plantation and the bakery will be used in the free meals centres run by Remar Swaziland, which serve meals daily to more than 180 underprivileged people (children and their relatives, and also prisoners).
Also, in the longer term, the neighbouring community will be seen to benefit, from the widening of initiatives and the creation of new jobs (a rise in the standard of living), the local administration (tax income), and the people of Manzini will benefit from a reduction in poverty and other related problems. This will coincide with the strategic objectives planned for by the project. One estimates there will be some 2,500 indirect beneficiaries of this project, which embodies the hopes of these people.
The problems that this project hopes to solve are those of malnutrition, endemic diseases, failure in social integration, low or deteriorated self-esteem, and family breakdown due to the high level of poverty and to unemployment.

Particular added-value elements

The NGO REMAR was established in Swaziland in the year 2000, and ever since that date has become involved, with the provision of much support, in the social and economic life of the country, seeking to improve the conditions of the most vulnerable groups. The work of Remar Swaziland focuses upon the rehabilitation of underprivileged and socially marginalised people. The following are some of its programmes:
► Child care programme: The care focuses upon covering the primary needs of the infant population, both in nutrition and in basic healthcare and education, through the provision of community homes, free schools, health clinics.
► Youth Care Programme: The aim is to train young people in at-risk situations, developing projects of social integration and apprenticeship in a trade so that they can become incorporated into the working society. This is achieved through different workshops: welding, carpentry, and audiovisual media.
► Community home programme for mothers and families: women and their children who are destitute and abandoned. This programme provides protection and aid to help restore broken families affected by social marginalization, financial crisis, drug addiction or delinquency.
► Programme for Detox, Rehabilitation, Treatment and Social Reinsertion of Drug addicts: Remar Swaziland cares for individuals addicted to narcotic substances, using a programme of detox, rehabilitation and social reinsertion which is run within the Remar centres.
► Free Meals Programme on the streets and in the prisons: Remar Swaziland covers the basic needs of the poorest sector of the population, through free meals centres where a total of approximately 180 people (children and their relatives, and also prisoners) are fed daily.
► The creation of supportive micro-businesses: a factory for cleaning products, and clothes shops: The aim is to promote the creation of microbusinesses, such as second-hand shops, a disinfectants factory, a mop factory, etc., for the financial support of the centres and the promotion of activities that generate income for the beneficiaries.
► It should be noted that all these projects benefit from the official support of the central and local authorities, as well as of other public bodies, which contribute with donations of all kinds (land, equipment, clothing, etc.

 

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