The COVID-19 pandemic has been a rude awakening for families, businesses and communities worldwide. There has been need for the entire globe to find means of mitigating its effects. The continued shocks that have come with the pandemic have forced people to develop innovative ways in order to survive and continue operating as close to normal as possible. It is within this context that the Zimbabwe Resilience Building Fund (ZRBF) Sizimele Mobile Application was developed to link urban markets with rural producers.
Shadreck Zhou a Market Specialist in an interview with Skyz Metro FM expressed that the application is promoting urban to rural linkages as opposed to rural to urban linkages. “Previously, farmers would supply the market with products that they would have regardless of demand in the market but with the Sizimele Application, rural farmers working with ZRBF Sizimele supply what the market requires as they are able to communicate with market players in the value chain.”
During the rural application rollout, rural producers expressed their excitement towards the application and indicated that it gives them a preview of the market demands at any moment and allows for deliberation with potential customers before embarking on a journey to Bulawayo with products that no one needs. Ekukhanyeni Mushroom hub committee member Mrs Sazini Ngwenya in Matopo District during the application rollout remarked that: “Through the seller list and buyer requirements available in the application, we are be able to know exactly what the Bulawayo markets require. We are also able to assess the competition and see where there is need to adjust so that we remain competitive and make some money while staying relevant.” The ZRBF Sizimele Application was developed specifically for trade and provides a link between the rural producers and the market within which they feed their produce.
The rural rollout of the application was a smashing success as the ZRBF Sizimele district stakeholders and producers were pleased to have a platform to advertise their products. Stakeholders expressed relief at the option to have the chance to talk to customers through the in-application chat option as well as the option to chat on WhatsApp. “The availability of the chat option on an application designed to promote trade is a wonderful initiative as it makes traders lives so much easier. Instead of going through the dance of asking for each other’s contact details, the application makes it easier by availing in-app chat options as well as the ability to communicate through WhatsApp,” said Thengiwe Moyo, an Agricultural Extension officer in Matopo during the application rollout.
Mrs Hleziphi Moyo, a producer from Midlo Irrigation scheme in Matobo, attested to the relevance of the ZRBF Sizimele application through her testimonial on a radio segment with Skyz Metro FM. “I have been able to advertise amacimbi on the application and received a request for them. We negotiated the price and transport modalities, and I successfully sold my product,” said Mrs Moyo. She also expressed that the option to chat and negotiate with buyers on the platform or on WhatsApp eased communication linkage with her customer. “My customer and I utilized the WhatsApp chat option available on the ZRBF Sizimele application and we were able to conclude the transaction,” added Mrs Moyo.