Fellow Since 2001
Zimbabwe Women's Finance Trust
This profile was prepared when Esinet Mapondera was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2001.
The New Idea
Esinet Mapondera had a dream that women could be more than housewives, domestic workers, teachers or nurses. She believed that if women could start their own businesses and make their own money through their own efforts, they would be empowered and independent. Influenced by her communal background, her lifetime of experience as a social worker, 28 years as a successful businesswoman in Zambia and her frustration at being refused venture capital in Zimbabwe to start a market garden business, Esinet created the Zimbabwean Women's Finance Trust (ZWFT) in 1989.This institution was the first to offer group lending to women in Zimbabwe and began as an affiliate of Women's World Banking. Created out of the discovery that women were poorly skilled to manage themselves financially, ZWFT offers technical training for members, strengthens linkages with other groups, encourages self sustainability and offers vocational skills training to women who want to start their own small scale industries. The organization also aims to protect the environment and impact on HIV/AIDS through microlending.Since its inception in 1989, ZWFT has had more than 6000 members and has provided project assistance valued over Z$25 million (US$477,000). ZWFT is well spread over Zimbabwe's rural, peri-urban and urban areas and has impacted over 30,000 beneficiaries.