WICO is a women-led organization whose mandate is to uphold women’s rights, health and livelihoods and it is a registered Trust (# MA0000427/215) that was established in 2009. It seeks to create safe spaces for women to participate in governance processes and exercise their constitutional rights. WICO has, in the past, focused on rural women – as they constitute the majority – but has realized the urban-rural gap as well.



WOMEN IN COMMUNITIES ZIMBABWE (WICO) has over the past 12 years been working towards the economic emancipation of women in Zimbabwe.  This has taken many forms in an attempt to ensure that the women in the constituencies that we worked were better equipped for improved livelihoods.  Our programs ranged from health, women’s rights, and improved livelihoods.


In 2017, during a UNDP funded program, WICO worked with 153 women in three villages I Shurugwi, in the Midlands province of Zimbabwe.  The women were taken through various trainings on natural resource management and climate smart agriculture.  They were assisted in setting up a community nutrition garden and improved farming techniques, bio intensive gardening (B.I.G) to increase their garden yield for household consumption and for resale.  This increased their monthly income from $5/month to $50/month.  This strengthened the capacity of these women and WICO further provided them with skills in entrepreneurship and business management giving them an opportunity to better their market gardening business.


It then became prudent that we introduce these women to some form of saving scheme that would ensure financial stability and sustainability of the project.  This is when we introduced the ISALS into this community of women.

The Internal Savings and Lending clubs are a self-funding micro-finance model.  The women formed clubs of 10 to 15 members, who agree to meet regularly, usually monthly, to save the little extra that they make from the sale of their produce.  Once they had saved enough, they started lending to themselves and had full control over their money.  The introduction of this concept was greatly welcome by the women as this improved their standard of living greatly as they could venture into other money making projects.  The savings clubs have given them more influence on how to use family income to improve the welfare of the family.


There were several benefits derived from the ISAL program:

  1. Improved women’s economic empowerment
  2. Increased household income and economic activities
  3. Increase household expenditure on essential services such as school fees and hospital bills
  4. Increased access to cash assets such as utensils and furniture and disposable income
  5. Increased access to business capital for micro-enterprises like poultry farming among other additional projects.
  6. Improved household resilience to external shocks such as food insecurity due to climate change induced draughts or pandemics like COVID 19.

In Zimbabwe the women have suffered the brunt of the economic meltdown more than their male counterparts as they are the ones who take care of the home.  The  women have struggled to access financial assistance from the mainline banking facilities as these require collateral which most women cannot raise.  This is the reason why these savings schemes have become popular and welcome in these communities.  They have inculcated a culture of saving and investment for future business ventures as they assist each other with start-up capital.  This can be replicated to as many villages as possible.  Some of the women have also used the scheme to save up for household groceries which they share quarterly or annually to ensure adequate food  stocks in the home and enough food to enjoy the festive season.




WOMEN IN COMMUNITIES (WICO) ZIMBABWE has grown in leaps and bounds since its inception in 2009. Under the able mentorship and leadership of a dedicated Board of Directors WICO has grown to become a force to reckon with in the Midlands province of Zimbabwe. The board has remained dedicated and committed to guiding the organisation and provide policies that have kept the organisation above board. Under the Chairpersonship of Mrs Nelliet Ngwena (2009 – 2013) and Mrs Alexia Manyangadze (2013 -2016), WICO has excelled in providing community work and strengthening health systems in the Midlands Province.


When people hear of the name WICO they expect to hear of a workforce of 15 – 20 people. The workforce is being driven by a team of five comprising of overly committed and dedicated women and men who have been extremely selfless in the services they offer in the Midlands. They have been able to create lasting relations with the line Ministries they work with as well as the local leadership and communities. Despite the minimal resources available to them in terms of remuneration, the team has tirelessly worked to meet its objectives and goals. God has definitely been topping up their store houses in His divine way.


Educationist, high school teacher and college lecturer by profession, mother to 3 girls and 2 boys, grandmother to six adorable children, friend, mentor and Women’s Rights activist – Meet Rebecca Tendai Chirenga.

Rebecca’s impressive mental strength and a can-do attitude motivated her to establish Women in Communities (WICO) almost a decade ago in Zimbabwe, to promote women’s issues and rights. Her courage and attitude had early beginnings.

At 34, facing widowhood and the prospect of bringing up five young children (the youngest was three years old) single-handedly, Rebecca prepared to meet the gauntlet thrown at her. Years later, five grown women and men achieved enough in their own right and stand as a testimonial to her perseverance.