Empumalanga Township, home of Hwange entrepreneurs.
By Rutendo Mapfumo
Empumalanga suburb is one of the townships in Hwange known to be the backbone of Hwange
entrepreneurs. The coming of COVID-19 pandemic resulted in the sprouting of many small
businesses and entrepreneurs in the form of back yard shops.
Mary Ngwenya (43) has opened her own backyard shop just behind the DRC bus terminus where she
resides and usually catches the earliest haulage truck to Bulawayo to buy basic commodities in bulk
for resale. Her clientele comprises DRC residents who find it difficult to go town for groceries.
“Of course COVID-19 came with a number of sad tales and disadvantages, but to be precise, the
pandemic has helped me somehow to be an entrepreneur.”
Ngwenya who buys and sells basic commodities from Bulawayo started her entrepreneurship at the
height of the global pandemic.
“When there were traveling restrictions, I would still travel to Bulawayo using the haulage trucks
which were coming to ferry coal from Hwange to Harare,” says Ngwenya.
Lindani Sithole from Hwange Business Forum says the impact of COVID -19 was so strenuous that
everyone wanted to come out with ideas for survival.
“Everyone became a vendor. If you notice in Empumalanga suburbs, something is being sold from
every household and it also extended to rural areas. People would stock some small things and sell.
Some deal in groceries, others in farm and garden products.
“Some sell their products in cars, as they can quickly move if police come, wheel barrows, push carts,
markets are everywhere now,” says Sithole.
The COVID-19 pandemic and resulting economic fallout caused significant hardship. In the early
months of the crisis, hundreds of people lost their jobs in the district. While employment began to
rebound within a few months, unemployment remained high throughout 2020. Improving
employment and substantial relief measures helped reduce the very high levels of hardship.
While wages dropped, 23 percent of the poorest people who were working before Covid-19 had lost
their jobs by June 2020.
According to the World Bank economic analysis, the number of extremely poor citizens rose to 7.9
million in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic and its impacts.
Luckmore Ndlovu a Hwange based business expert says the coming of pandemic was a wakeup call
for most entrepreneurs in Hwange.
“Those who opened shops and started online shops, still have running businesses in the mining
town, COVID -19 was like a wakeup call for most us in small and medium enterprises,” says Ndlovu.
The impact of COVID -19 IN Hwange town became a breeding ground for most entrepreneurs.
“I’m not giving up now, the lockdowns, travel restrictions in the country taught me how to hustle in
order to provide for my children,” says Siphiwe Ngwenya another a 23-year-old owner of a backyard
Although there has been mushrooming of these back yard shops, the shop owners are appealing to
the Hwange Local Board to fulfil their promises of establishing a market stall in Empumalanga
“We would want to grow our business and take our shops to the market stall, but we have not heard
much from the Hwange Local Board when it comes to the establishment of the market stall,” says
The Hwange Local Board had promised to construct a state of art flea market using devolution funds.
“The facility is estimated to cost about ZW$35 million. The flea market will comprise 262 stalls, five
booth shops, a kiosk, food court and ablutions as well as an outside car parking area. We expect to
start construction,” says Dumisani Nsingo the HLB Public Relations Officer..
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