Community empowerment in its totality has immense and great prospects to facilitate real-time, sustainable impactful development for many in communities, especially for women-owned micro-enterprises.
We have seen great efforts by the Ministry of Gender Equality, Poverty Eradication and Social Welfare, under its powerful Directorate of Community Development and Poverty Eradication, where there are a number of activities that are directly aimed at capacitating and strengthening women-owned micro-enterprises.
These are programmes, such the women in business associations, income generating and the use of community empowerment centres to facilitate skills upgrades.
When looking at the above, there is a need to intensify measures, which would contribute significantly to further promoting community empowerment in our respective communities.
We further need to ensure greater access to these empowerment opportunities for the most deserving community members.
Why is this important?
Access to empowerment opportunities leads to improved well-being and the progression of communities. Community members will be able to access more opportunities, which would lead to their well-being and progression.
In promoting community empowerment, we appreciate how the ministry of gender is cementing knowledge and understanding of the prioritisation of community empowerment practices in the everyday practices of the ministry.
When the concept of community empowerment is to be understood, emphasis in this regard is put upon underprivileged and economically backward sections of our society.
When this is done, community empowerment creates a comprehensive social movement that makes the provision of support and assistance to individuals more meaningful and substantive.
The heart of the new and organised community empowerment movement that is being pushed for by the ministry of gender is a grassroots organising to solve social problems and improve economic conditions for all. These community organisations that engage in successful mobilisation efforts ensure their work reaches the most deserving.
Another key incentive to engage with community empowerment is a clear focus on the benefits. In adding meaning to the approach of community empowerment, we have observed that when communities feel empowered, there is greater participation in local democracy, and increased confidence and skills among local people – more people participate in their communities, which results in greater social capital amongst our communities.
We have observed a challenge in community empowerment related to social loafing.
Social loafing can be understood as ‘The general tendency for people to expend less effort on a task when working as part of a group than when working individually.
In stark contrast, our communities are brave and resilient. We see how they have never allowed their circumstances to define them, but they get up every day and face what the harshness of society has to offer. It is up to us, in whatever developmental spaces we operate, to continue making opportunities available for communities.
The ministry boasts community empowerment centres in many regions, with the Omaheke region bearing the privilege of having two. These centres are managed by regional councils and operated by ministry staff.
Community empowerment centres (CECs) have been set up to serve as a hub of training, capacity building, operating space for SMEs, information sharing and critical business-related dissemination of information.
Community members, especially women-owned micro-enterprises, must approach CECs and understand what is lined up with regard to capacity building and skills upgrade training opportunities.
We must be intentional in ensuring that women-owned micro-enterprises are in a position to benefit from programmes and initiatives that will put them in a better position to grow, create employment, add value and innovate.
CECs have ample potential and are well on their way to becoming training hubs for innovation, incubation and entrepreneurship.
Community empowerment centres are facilitating the communities’ increased control of their lives, and they give them much-needed ownership towards development initiatives in their areas.
* Dylan Mukoroli is passionate about development finance and community upliftment.