The Sunday News
Sandisiwe Gumbo, Sunday News Reporter
In a remarkable display of resilience and determination, a Gwanda woman has defied the odds to establish two schools in the mining town.
Recognising the lack of preschool facilities after becoming a mother herself, Mrs Roseweeter Chimberengwa (41) took it upon herself to build Barney and Friends Pre-school in 2010. In January this year, she expanded her vision further with the opening of a primary school, Gwanda Christian School.
“After I had my son, I realised that Gwanda did not have a pre-school. I had been looking for a play group for him to play with children of his age, hence the idea to build a school came about. I was able to convert a small piece of land that we already owned into what is now Gwanda Christian School,” said Mrs Chimberengwa.
Unmoved by people who said such an endeavour could only be accomplished by men, Mrs Chimberengwa went ahead with her vision. One of the major hurdles she faced was securing adequate funding for the construction of the school, which pushed her to sell three of her vehicles in order to raise funds to purchase building materials.
When this hurdle was overcome, managing multiple roles as a wife, mother and business person proved to be a difficult task for her. Balancing these responsibilities required immense dedication and sacrifice. However, her determination remained unshaken as she tirelessly worked towards her goals.
“It’s very difficult to manage being a wife, mother, daughter-in-law, businesswoman and just be Rose all at once. I have come to realise that there are different seasons to each role you play.
“There are times that you really need to be a mother even if it means you are unable to go to work. There are times when you are just exhausted and you need to take time off to recharge. It’s truly a challenging balancing act. Though I might not always get it right, I will keep trying,” said Mrs Chimberengwa.
The construction of another block at Gwanda Christian School is underway, with hopes of completion by January 2024. Additional plans are in place to establish a science laboratory by the end of the first term, further enhancing the educational experience for pupils at Gwanda Christian School.
“I started Gwanda Christian School in January 2023 with 18 learners, now we have 35 learners. In January 2024 we anticipate to have 70 learners,” said Mrs Chimberengwa.
Her entrepreneurial spirit extends beyond education. Recognising the scarcity of vegetables in Gwanda, particularly for nursery children’s meals, Mrs Chimberengwa ventured into market gardening. Starting with just a few vegetables grown for the school, her enterprise quickly expanded to supply leading supermarkets in the mining town.
“I fell into market gardening by default. I needed vegetables to cook for the nursery school children. They were hard to find in Gwanda so I started growing just a few for my family and for the pre-school. A boarding school close to us then asked me to grow more so that they could buy from me. The market gardening project grew from there with leading supermarkets coming on board as clients,” said Mrs Chimberengwa.
From her experience, Mrs Chimberengwa advises aspiring female entrepreneurs to be persistent and have a clear vision of what they want to do.
“You can’t be an entrepreneur and be lazy. It simply won’t work. There is a lot more work being self-employed as opposed to being employed. Most look at entrepreneurship as if it’s simply waking up when you want to and taking time off whenever you want. That’s not the case at all; you have to be organised, disciplined, put in the hours and above all you have to be persistent,” she said.
Mrs Chimberengwa’s journey serves as a testament to the power of perseverance and the impact that one individual can have on their community. Her unwavering commitment to education and entrepreneurship serves as a beacon of hope for aspiring entrepreneurs, particularly women who face additional barriers in their pursuit of success.