Four projects in Zimbabwe empowering women and transforming communities

Cultures & Communities


Lauren Dold


Making an impact in Zimbabwe

For all its beauty, life in Zimbabwe comes with its fair share of challenges. The hot climate and sandy Kalahari soil make farming extremely challenging, and economic opportunities are limited for women in rural parts of the country. Considering most households have five to eight members, with an average monthly income of less than USD10, many families can’t afford to send their children to school.

From sustainable subsistence farming to conservation-focused crafts, women-centred empowerment programmes facilitated by Wilderness not only uplift communities, but foster self-sustainability and empowerment among women. Through these programmes, supported by Wilderness guests, women gain access to alternative income sources that are more resilient to environmental challenges, helping them break the cycle of poverty.

We couldn’t be more proud of these four impactful programmes that are reshaping lives and fostering resilience within Zimbabwean communities.

Earth to Plate initiative - sustainable farming

Our Earth to Plate Initiative has been instrumental in equipping three communities outside Hwange National Park, particularly women, with the skills and knowledge needed for sustainable organic farming. In Tsholotsho, a group of determined, green-thumbed women have not only embraced sustainable farming practices but also demonstrated remarkable entrepreneurial spirit by selling over USD1,100 worth of produce in just six months.


“The remote, rural areas of Zimbabwe outside Hwange, where we operate in private wilderness areas, are particularly dry and unyielding for agriculture, exacerbated by extreme temperatures, erratic rainfall patterns and human-wildlife conflict. Our initiatives in Tsholotsho go a long way to supporting our most vulnerable neighbours with food-security opportunities”, notes Sue Goatley, Wilderness Zambezi Impact Manager.


This initiative not only provides economic opportunities but promotes self-reliance within communities, and helps supply Wilderness camps with fresh produce.


Wilderness has committed to buying any excess millet and sorghum for its staff meals, and to use as an alternative flour in the local heritage menu items so loved by guests in our Hwange camps.

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Ladies Basket Making Project

In rural areas outside Victoria Falls and Hwange, a community effort sees plastic turned to one-of a-kind upcycled products marketed and sold in Wilderness camps.


Collected and cleaned by members of the community, plastic waste is woven into baskets, placemats and lampshades by the Ladies Basket Making Project, fusing tradition with innovation, and empowering women along the way. Over 300 women benefit from the Tsholotsho basket-weaving project; while creating beautiful products, these women instil and enhance pride in local culture and traditions, and play a huge role in waste reduction and recycling.


“When visiting or dropping off the funds from sales, the basket weaving ladies, brightly clad in traditional chitenge wraps and skirts, always treat me to joyous singing and dancing as a welcoming gesture. One song in particular stands out and holds a special meaning as it celebrates the granting of their ‘stoopa’ (pass or ticket), which symbolises their financial freedom. It is a truly heart-warming experience and I encourage them to share this song with guests, allowing others to appreciate its beauty and significance,” adds Courtney Pritchard, Wilderness Zambezi Impact Administrator.


Most importantly, these women are rewriting their narratives by prioritising their children's education through the income earned. In 2023 alone, this remarkable group of women earned a collective USD6,500. When Wilderness guests buy these beautiful handmade products, they not only take home a precious safari keepsake, but help weave dreams into reality.

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Mopane Snare Wire Project

Just as Zimbabwe’s resilient mopane trees symbolise optimism after a long dry season, a unique initiative echoes the spirit of renewal. The Victoria Falls Anti-Poaching Unit and the Wilderness Scorpion Anti-Poaching Unit work tirelessly to remove around 200kg of snare wire annually in Victoria Falls, Hwange, and the area surrounding the national parks. Often set by individuals facing extreme poverty, these snares contribute to illegal bush-meat poaching, indiscriminately wounding and killing wildlife. In collaboration with the Jafuta Foundation, Children in the Wilderness and local jewellers, endless metres of this collected snare wire is transformed into striking jewellery by members of the Dibutibu community.


Based at one of the Jafuta Foundation's Centres of Hope, this initiative empowers young men and women, training them to create wearable art from the once harsh and deadly wire. Partnering with the Batoka Creatives, who craft beaded adornments, the project not only breathes life into discarded materials but also into the communities involved. Each purchase from this collection supports these craftspeople, providing them with incomes that, combined with environmental education, reduce reliance on subsistence poaching. A portion of the funds generated is reinvested in the anti-poaching teams, fortifying their efforts against large-scale commercial poaching – the true threat to Zimbabwe's endangered wildlife. Wilderness guests who buy this handmade jewellery not only collect unique pieces, but also contribute to a sustainable cycle of hope and conservation.

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Women’s Papermaking Project

As part of a wider project to establish a green village in Jabulani outside Victoria Falls, our papermaking project is leading the environmentally friendly, income generating way. Eight women from the community recently began their training with the Mapepa Culture Fund, learning to use papermaking equipment. In the future, the hope is that these women will go on to teach other members of the community, empowering more people and keeping more waste out of landfills.


The enthusiasm and commitment of community members so far is promising, with the recycled paper being used for school supplies for children, and crafted as welcome notes, gift bags and envelopes for Wilderness guests visiting Zimbabwean camps.


The project recently received upgraded equipment, which now allows the women to produce A3-size paper, expanding their range of products. At certain Wilderness camps in Hwange, guests are offered the chance to try their hand at napkin folding, guided by skilled waiters who create birds, elephants and other creatures from paper supplied by the papermaking project.

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Wilderness impact in Zimbabwe

More than just income-generating ventures, these community projects transform, inspire, and empower. With the support of Wilderness and guests, the success of these projects sets a trajectory for long-term, meaningful positive change in Zimbabwean communities.

Learn how we make an impact

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