By Nesia Mhaka
Youths in Goromonzi district have launched a face masks production venture to help in Zimbabwe’s battle against the spread of Covid-19, as well as to create employment for themselves.
The COVID-19 pandemic has hit health systems around the world, devastated economies, and dimmed job prospects for many people, including a vulnerable large generation of youths.
Young people are the most affected, as private sector companies continue to reduce labour forces due to increased production costs and reduced demand of products and services, this has resulted in a decline in revenues.
As many youths’ grapple with the unprecedented effects of the pandemic, young people in Goromonzi, in Ward 24 have taken advantage of the crisis to make face masks.
The masks are made from cotton and nylon drapery collected from left-over fabrics in Ruwa.
The innovative idea of making masks was conceived by youths after a business opportunity identification session offered under the Business Life Skills (BLS) training offered by Netherlands Development Organisation (SNV) Zimbabwe, in partnership with the Swiss Development Cooperative (SDC) and the Swedish International Development Cooperation (Sida).
The training is being offered by Women in Agriculture (WiA), the local service agency of SNV Zimbabwe, which is working around programmes of creating employment opportunities for youths aged between 18-35 years in Goromonzi district.
promoting youth employment
Speaking during a recent tour of Gorominzi, SNV Country MEAL and Communications Advisor, Thando Nkomo, said it was necessary to promote youth self-employment and entrepreneurship to mitigate the economic crisis brought by Covid-19 pandemic.
“Young people, have already been the hardest hit by unemployment and under-employment in normal times and they require extra attention during the Covid-19 pandemic,” he said.
“Nowadays concerns and investments still largely concentrate on youth unemployment and discontent as they are more visible and have increasingly become more manifest in the current economic crisis,” he added.
Nkomo said his organisation would continue to support youths’ employment initiatives in Zimbabwe.
The provision of skills development to youths’ during this hard-times was critical in maximising opportunities for them and generate employment growth, he said.
“As SNV we are going to develop strategies and specific country initiatives to improve the employment prospects of vulnerable young men and women.
“This encompasses general socio-economic and rural development projects that targeted the youths and directly address youth’s employment needs.”
Nkomo said several youth groups across the country were currently undertaking technical training in solar marketing, and others were looking into growing their sewing business.
Sewing group leader Miss Tatenda Mataya (22), said their sewing project was a way of assisting their parents to support families.
“We ventured into this programme after realising that our parents are struggling to survive during this lockdown and we decided to seize the moment to make affordable masks that would augment family budgets.
“We produce an average of 50 masks a day, with each mask being sold for 50 United States cents,” she said.
Mataya said that fighting against Covid-19 required a collective efforts approach and the youths were playing their role through manufacturing of face masks.
She also urged other young people to join and work together with the team to produce more masks.