An Investigation into the effects of women development fund in improving livelihoods at household level in Bulawayo: A case of Mzilikazi district ward 18
Studies have viewed micro finance and micro credit as a social strategy of improving livelihoods in developing countries, and there has been a growing recognition that women’s access to credit comes with the ability to borrow, save and increase incomes, which enhances the poor women’s confidence and enabling them to better confront the systemic gender inequalities. It is believed that women use the proceeds from their income generating activities for the benefit of the family as a whole (Kuzilwa et al, 2005).This thesis accesses the effectiveness of The Women Development Fund (WFP) in improving livelihoods at household level. The fund is a loan from the Zimbabwean Government funded by the treasury to boost existing income generating activities and project startups among women thus alleviating poverty. Therefore investment of micro-credit in women tends to yield better socio-economic returns. The study aimed to establish the procedure of disbursement of the WDF, assess the effects of it to the beneficiaries and to determine the problems women face in accessing, utilizing and repaying the loan. Descriptive methodology has been employed in the study. The beneficiaries expressed that the Women Development Fund though a good intervention strategy to their challenges, is insufficient to start up and run viable projects. Result indicated that beneficiaries were running unprofitable projects, had nothing in savings and that poverty levels among women still remained high. The research concludes that the Women Development Fund has not been effective in improving livelihoods at household level as the fund is insufficient. The study also concludes that women are failing to repay the back loan. The researcher therefore recommends increase in the loan amount, disbursement of loan at project value and to incapacitate the ward development officers with resources to monitor an evaluate projects from inception to maturity.