The Sunday News
ZIMBABWEAN women dotted around the globe have come together to form an economic empowerment vehicle called Qoki ZiNdlovukazi Community Organisation that has since attracted over 5 000 members.
Founded by Miss Sithule Tshuma who is based in the United Kingdom, Qoki is a member-driven women’s organisation that utilises the power of social media to address challenges faced by members and their communities in the diaspora and country of origin. It was founded in December 2016.
“It’s main purpose was to bring together a group of Zimbabwean women based in England. These women were all from Matabeleland and Midlands provinces. It has a big following and currently stands at 5 000 plus members. At inception, its sole purpose was for the women to network and provide a support system for each other.
We now have members in South Africa, Canada, America, Australia, United Kingdom, Ireland and Zimbabwe. The whole idea was birthed when a group of women came together in Manchester (England) to talk about the possibility of investing in property. We bought our first house together, then sold it.
This gave us confidence that there was power in numbers and coming together as a collective to do projects. The rest, as they say, is history as we have grown from strength to strength,” said Miss Tshuma.
In 2017, the group had a property seminar where the portfolio of property investments started, with a number of properties having been acquired by members at home and abroad ever since.
She pointed out that the organisation has a number of investment areas and has been involved in charity work as well, with a number of development projects having been successfully implemented in the UK and in Zimbabwe.
Some of the development projects funded by the organisation are Qoki Zimbabwe Hospital Project, Qoki Tsholotsho Disaster Support, and Qoki various support to individuals with compelling circumstances.
The organisation has been pursuing women economic empowerment through Qoki UK Property Investments, Qoki Zimbabwe Property Investments, Qoki Solar Geyser Project in Zimbabwe, Qoki Cow Project in Zimbabwe, Qoki Borehole Project in Zimbabwe, Qoki Groceries Projects, Qoki Savings Projects, Qoki Birthday Projects and Qoki Investment Group.
“We are also into investment through Qoki Investment in Matabeleland and Midlands. Qoki’s initial response was to give back to its community by doing charity work. Blankets have been donated to 13 hospitals within the regions. This was sponsored by voluntary contributions by members of the group.
They identified a gap and a need to help each other as women in the group in achieving goals for ourselves. The women are proud that as a group they have helped each other to raise money for deposits to purchase properties, improve existing properties by installing solar geysers and boreholes. The projects still continue based on the needs of the group.
“What happens is that a group of women come together for a certain project and help each other raise funds to get started and another group looks at a different area of interest altogether. Each year we start new portfolios and advertise them on our social media platforms and those interested come and join.
For example those into property help each other raise deposit to buy a house by making monthly contributions to each individual, for example if you are 11 and you give one person in one month 1 000 Pounds each that person gets 10 000 Pounds which is enough to deposit for a good property or buy some property for that matter and in the next month we give to the next person and so forth. That same formula is used across our portfolios of helping members invest in economic activities as well and uplift their communities.
When our members are building homes and houses and putting solar systems and boreholes, they are also empowering local communities through business opportunities and employment. We also ask businesses we deal with to donate to our charity initiatives where we help the less fortunate members of our communities back home and we have also assisted with groceries during the difficult time of Covid-19 induced lockdowns in Zimbabwe and South Africa,” said Miss Tshuma.
Miss Tshuma said they aimed to respond to various challenges that women face, among them economic disadvantages and various social issues.
“We are driven by ubuntu, which is a philosophy that grounds us in the fact that we are who we are because of our collective function and effort. Our main objective as a group is to encourage and empower each other to raise funds, which then facilitate our identified projects.
So far we have set up a few projects to help empower us as women. Most importantly, we are rising to the challenge implementing projects that will allow us to support identified hospitals in Zimbabwe. While this is in the infancy stages, we have managed to donate blankets to 13 hospitals. We have also set up a relief fund that enabled us to assist during the relief efforts after the severe rains in the Matabeleland region and have set up appeals for individuals in distress.”
The organisation is into property, and supports members raise funds to invest in property abroad and back home. It is also into social activities as it hosts birthday parties for members and a grocery buying club to help families back home. The organisation also has a burial society plan. It has also invested heavily in hospitals with a UK -Matabeleland Hospitals Charitable Distribution Wing of the Qoki ZiNdlovukazi (Manina Amahle).
It has an operational clinic in Bulawayo.
There is Qoki Investment Group which aims to provide financial empowerment and business growth for women. This is a small group of women who have come together via self-selection and have committed their own financial resources that are being used to progress investment projects in Zimbabwe.
“In 2020 Qoki women also came together and donated money to help distribute clean water following the water crisis in Luveve (Bulawayo) and other areas. The women helped with donations which paid for a 20 000 litres bowser to distribute water for six days.
The bowser started distributing water in Luveve because it was worst-affected, and then distributed in other locations in Bulawayo. We also funded the drilling of four boreholes in the city, and assisted with Personal Protective Equipment for Covid-19 as well as food parcels to members of the community. We also donated to a Figtree single dad, Mr Gumede, who is raising his 10-month-old baby after his wife died during childbirth. Qoki women donated groceries, blankets and baby clothes, and also raised £500.”
Miss Tshuma paid tribute to Qoki administrators, advisors and members for the success of the organisation.
“I might be the founder but credit goes to the members who have worked hard to make this dream come through. There is dedicated team that works day and night to make our lives better and also help improve the lives of our people here is the diaspora and back home,” said Miss Tshuma.