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Source: Gender Links
Economic dependency has been cited as one of the causes for gender based violence (GBV), whose many victims and/ or survivors are women. It is often cited as the reason that forces women to stay in abusive relationships or marriages because they feel they cannot survive without an income from their spouses or male relations.

It is for this reason that Gender Links embarked on an emerging entrepreneurship project for women survivors of GBV in various countries in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region.

The project is aimed at empowering women with entrepreneurship skills so that they become economically independent.

The training, according to 'Matieho Mabitso, a Lesotho GBV survivor, has assisted her to increase her economic base, she is now self-reliant and has a level of independence in her marriage.

Mabitso says the training, which she underwent under the auspices of Gender Links Lesotho, has given her life skills including public speaking and conducting her beer business to generate more income for her family.

She is one of the women that submitted entries in the emerging entrepreneurship category, the first of its kind in the Gender Links annual summit.

Many women operate beer businesses in the Mountain Kingdom of Lesotho. This has been largely attributed to the fact that women are the most disciplined when it comes to managing such business, while on the hand they rarely drink beer so the business stands a better chance of flourishing.

Mabitso has embarked in that very business and she earns about M1, 300 (about R1, 300 South African rands) per day. She uses the money for her family upkeep and saves some in the bank.

She started her business in 1994 selling traditional beer commonly known as joala ba Sesotho but later on started buying canned beer for resell in her village.

Due to high demand and love for diversity by her clients, who are mostly male, Mabitso's upgraded her business to selling bottled beer and added variety by selling cigarettes, matches and airtime, which her clients demanded most of the time.

Mabitso has managed to buy her own donkeys to transport canned and bottled beer to her home village instead of hiring them.

In the past, Mabitso did not know how to save and at the same time reinvest in her business. At times, she would run a loss.

After consultation with people with knowledge in business, Mabitso's only option was to increase the prices of her stock, taking into consideration all the overhead costs incurred.

Mabitso's business gives her M340 (R340 rands) per crate of beer and in a day. She is able to sell four crates, which in total gives her M1, 360 (R1, 360). She has set up a similar business in a different location and her relative runs it.

When asked about why there seemed to be more female entrepreneurs than men in her country, Mabitso said: "Men will never survive in this business because they would do more of drinking the beer than selling."

Mabitso says it is difficult for one to be disciplined when they have an interest in the commodity they are selling.

The 10 entries on emerging entrepreneurship submitted in this year's SADC gender awards range from tailoring, chicken rearing, catering and beer selling project among others.

The best entry in the emerging entrepreneurs category will be presented at the regional summit awards in Johannesburg, South Africa in May 2014.

This article is part of the GL News Service special coverage of the SADC Gender Protocol Summits underway across the region, offering fresh views on everyday news.

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