Kumboedza was formed when one man, a experienced but unemployed tailor, gathered a group of his family members and started a clothes making business. The group asked for $1000 seed money and received this amount in November 2010. Immediately they bought a sewing machine and materials and set to work making uniforms for primary and secondary schools in the area. The group has paid back the $1000.
To date Kumboedza is one of the most successful groups financed through the community grant program. The members recognized and filled a niche market for locally made school uniforms. Because of low overhead costs, the group can price their merchandise competitively, coming in cheaper than the bigger retail stores located in the towns. There is division of labor, with some of the members doing the cutting and sewing, some the finishing work, and others the sales and marketing. Munhu is one of Kumboedza’s customers as we buy school uniforms for our students from this group.
The working conditions are also very flexible and accommodating. In the morning, group members go to work in their fields, growing staples of maize (corn), peanuts, and vegetables. In the afternoon, as the sun starts getting too hot to work in the fields, the members come together under the cool shade of the verandah and get to work sewing buttons, making hems, and pressing collars. Even better, the women bring their babies to work.
Not only are the members making a profit that is used to support their families and the orphans left in their care by relatives who died of HIV/AIDS, they are also providing needed products at competitive prices. With time, the group plans to expand and start creating employment for other villagers.