July 2014 – Children in the Wilderness (CITW) has initiated an Empowering Women Project in Maun, Botswana, assisting a local community women’s group with start-up capital and business guidance.
For the pilot project, Wilderness Safaris’ Community Development Liaison in Botswana, Mary Hastag, together with Regional CITW Director, Dr Sue Snyman, are working together with the already established Shashe Women’s Group at Shashe Primary School.
“Plans are in place, however, to roll out more Empowering Women Projects elsewhere in Botswana, as well as the rest of southern Africa”, said Mary Hastag. “Through this project, we aim to offer the support and guidance rural women require to lay down the foundations of their own businesses, thereby creating sustainable economies in these communities.”
To participate in the programme, each woman, or group of women, will complete an application form which they will submit to Mary, together with a proposal for their project. The proposals have to include details on what they require, what they plan to produce, and who they are planning to sell the end product to.
Discussions are then held on the marketing of the products and the sustainability of the potential business. Another dimension to the programme includes providing financial guidance, as well as business and marketing skills training. Ongoing support is currently provided to the Shashe Women’s Group, as Mary meets with the team every week to discuss their progress, as well as any challenges they are facing. She also assists them in buying the necessary supplies to get their businesses off the ground.
Not wanting to miss out on the opportunity, the Shashe Women’s Group also includes one gentleman – the cook at the school who is an excellent carver and wished to be part of this exciting project. The women received their first big order from Wilderness Safaris Botswana, to supply placemats and various other goods for its camps in Botswana and are extremely excited about ensuring the success of their business projects.