Support for Local Enterprise
In addition to direct employment and training, the Lodge is supporting local people in a variety of ways:
- Rotating savings and credit groups: We are currently supporting 8 rotating credit and saving groups in 2 communities. The Lodge provides the start-up credit and a Community Agent employed by the Lodge provides training and back-up support each month when groups meet to reimburse the credit received and deposit their monthly savings. This support continues until the group members are ready to take over and continue independently. As well as encouraging and helping individuals to save, these groups in effect serve as ‘community banks’ providing access to credit for people who would not be able to access it from a commercial bank.
Benefits for individuals and families: Many individuals have been able to help themselves, their families and others. One of our staff members, who has been in the savings group for some years now, reported that he has been able to take in the orphaned children of his brother and provide them with a home and send them to school. Another woman, Dona Mariamo (pictured below) used her savings to pay for her son to complete a teacher’s training course at the teacher’s training college in Macuse and he now has a well paid job as a teacher. Another member was able to buy a small fishing boat and this has helped to raise the living standards for the whole family, as well as providing employment for another three fishermen.
Business management training and support for new business initiatives: In 2011, the Lodge financed a one-week business management training attended by 50 community members. They learnt about market research, stock management and other ways of starting up and/or improving their existing businesses. One of the trainees, Ana (pictured below) has since started up a small restaurant and is able to provide meals for locals, as well as tourists. In May 2013, the Lodge hosted a group of volunteers from Portugal, who provided training in fruit conservation. They produced delicious jams using local fruits and Zalala Beach Lodge plans to buy supplies of these locally made jams to serve at breakfast for our guests!
- Buying local goods and services: Wherever possible, the Lodge buys food, such as fish, eggs, bread, tomatoes, locally. This benefits local traders, as well as the Lodge as the food is usually fresher and more tasty. In future, expansion of local food production on the site is also planned. Local people are employed for all unskilled jobs and we also employ some skilled tradesmen and women, such as carpenters, tailors and others. Most of the Lodge furniture is made from wood purchased locally and crafted by local carpenters. Staff uniforms are made by local tailors.
Women are the chief providers of child care and family support. Many lack skills and training. So, we try to ensure women benefit from other opportunities.
One of our most successful initiatives to date is the Women’s Pottery group from Idugo. This island has a strong tradition of pottery and it is primarily women who have developed this skill and passed it down from one generation to the next. Before the arrival of Zalala Beach Lodge, the craft was gradually going into decline due to lack of resources and access to markets. However, since the Lodge began buying pots of all shapes and sizes, the numbers have grown and the group is flourishing again! We benefit too as many of our guests comment on the lovely clay pots that add an attractive local touch to the place!
Women’s dance groups
Women also tend to be the leaders when it comes to singing and dancing and there are many local song and dance groups who perform the traditional dances. These groups are invited to perform at all special occasions held at the Lodge. The Lodge has provided fabric for their costumes and also assisted them to participate in the annual Zalala Festival, which is a celebration of performing arts and culture.