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Can we Turn our Remittances into investment?

It is true that the worst of times can bring out the best in us. That Zimbabwe has seen some difficult times is a fact, but it is also a fact that Zimbabweans are still standing, still believing in our country, and still working hard. And despite the challenges, there are some great things happening.

In 2013, a combination of a business head and a pastoral heart gave birth to a program called Turning Matabeleland Green. It’s a simple program based on a simple principle – be faithful with what you have. God blesses faithfulness. Our rural farmers have land available to them – but to produce commercially they need training, and they need access to markets. So TMG provides monthly training sessions for the farmers to learn how to grow tomatoes and raise chickens – and then helps them to access markets. It’s a lot of hard work, but the farmers can make up to US$12,000 per year.

TMG is a new program, and there is still a lot of work that needs to be done to make it function as well as it could. A simple thing like lack of transport can spoil what is an otherwise good harvest. In fact, a lack of capital assets is a real problem. We need investment, we need capital – and the big question is where will the money come from? If we can take this even further and ask who will pay for the development of the poor in our country? Who will pay for our development? It’s a very pertinent question for the country right now. The Government is collecting very little in revenues, so does not have much money. We have in the past looked to aid, but this has come with its own strings and has not always delivered. Most developing countries now are looking towards FDI, and maybe this is our salvation?

I cannot help thinking though that as a Christian I am called not to look to others but to the Lord. The farmers of TMG are making the most with what they have and trusting the Lord who rewards faithfulness. They are not receiving any external assistance, but are rolling up their sleeves and doing it themselves. If we work with the principle they are working with, then we should not look further than ourselves. In fact FDI is nothing more than other people’s savings, and we get to use their money at a cost to ourselves, and to their benefit. And so they should benefit, after all they did the work of building up their savings and does not the bible say the borrower is slave to the lender?

Instead of relying on other people’s savings, should we not be building our own? It’s tempting to think we don’t have much, indeed as individuals maybe we don’t – but it is a fact that in 2014 Zimbabweans in Diaspora sent home US$1.8billion as remittances. Of course this is people’s private money, and no one can tell anyone how to use their money. But imagine what would happen if we pool some of this together, start to build our savings little by little. We can be a potent force for good, we can start to change the story about Zimbabwe to one we are all proud of.

This in fact is what a small group of people in Leeds are trying to do. Building our savings little by little, putting them all together in one pot and supporting the work of the farmers of TMG. These are not donations to them, this is investment, this is FDI. Except it’s by Zimbabweans to Zimbabwe, it’s from the young people in Leeds to the Gogo’s in Kezi. We do this because we see a new Zimbabwe, one built by Zimbabweans. When we focus on the things we value, and fight for the things we believe in, we all win. Our Gogos’ recent fight for, and win of Maleme Farm reminded us once again who we are – we needed to rediscover that we are a brave people. We will make a stand for what is right, and we will continue to fight for our development.

Will you not build your savings with us and contribute to the development of Zimbabwe?

[How] Can the Diaspora Invest Collectively in Development?

The Global Native is concerned with researching different ways of funding development in Africa, we realise that despite decades of various development policies, theories and general persuasions, it is usually the financial strings that determine project outcome. Continue reading “[How] Can the Diaspora Invest Collectively in Development?”