Maryland college students look to ease poverty in Zimbabwe
Bernice Jere’s Tibatane movement seeks to spur business growth in her native land.
Jere has banded together with dozens of other Salisbury students to form Tibatane (pronounced TEE-bah-TAH-nay), a nonprofit organization that is supporting and promoting business growth in Zimbabwe. Of the country’s 13.7 million citizens, 60 percent live in poverty.
“Our mission is to empower the underprivileged population in Zimbabwe to build more sustainable businesses by providing, education, resources, financing, and hands-on support,” says Jere, a senior at Salisbury. “In Shona, a language of Zimbabwe, Tibatane means ‘Together.’ Here at the university, we’re working together to provide a better life for those who need our help.”
Tibatane’s current project is a clothing line that produces casual wear, such as T-shirts, denim items and accessories incorporating imported traditional African fabric. Money raised through clothing sales will be used to create a factory that will hire and train unemployed people from poverty-stricken communities in Zimbabwe. They will be taught how to sew the clothing, initiating a chain of events that will help them become more self-sufficient.
“They will be paid fair wages and we will provide business support that will empower them to get out of poverty,” explains Jere. “We believe in the dignity of work and this project will get them started in the right direction.”
The long-range goal is to help start similar businesses in Zimbabwe.
Such an undertaking, however, is an arduous and expensive process. Initial production costs include $7,000 for a U.S. manufacturer (patternmaking, fabric, sewing, packaging and shipping), $10,000 to set up the factory in Zimbabwe and $3,000 for marketing and legal fees.
It adds up to $20,000. To raise funds, and increase awareness of the Tibatane movement, an Indiegogo campaign has been launched. To make a donation, volunteer your services or view a Tibatane video, visit the Indiegogo page.
Depending on their donation levels, backers receive T-shirts, tank tops, long-sleeve denim shirts and other clothing items. The $4,000 Africa package includes a December 2014 trip to Zimbabwe.
Jere realizes that there are limits to what Tibatane can provide but the hope is that, by creating awareness, others will support this cause.
“We are doing what we can to start a selfless worldwide movement,” she says. “We don’t have much but we do have passion to alleviate poverty in Zimbabwe and eventually the rest of the world. We’re encouraging everyone to share out story on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.”
For further information about Tibatane, visit the project website or the Indiegogo campaign site, www.indiegogo.com/projects/tibatane. Jere can be reached directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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