Our work in Zimbabwe

Twenty years ago, Zimbabwe was Africa’s fastest-growing economy, a net exporter of maize, cotton and sugar cane boasting a dynamic manufacturing sector and skyrocketing literacy rates. Then came President Robert Mugabe’s infamous Fast Track Land Reform, one of a raft of policies so wildly destructive they seemed purpose-built to dismantle the country. Hunger spread. The AIDS epidemic exploded. And hyperinflation reached levels so astronomical the government gave up filing statistics.

From breadbasket to basket case, Zimbabwe’s decline was complete.

It was against this backdrop, in 2011, that Hand in Hand arrived in the country. Mugabe had barred NGOs from working in Zimbabwe just three years earlier, and although the ban had since been lifted, its chilling effect had not. No matter their president, Zimbabwe’s poorest residents deserved a chance to work their way out of poverty, we reasoned. And when our umbrella operation in South Africa concluded in 2015, that logic still stood. And so, we’ve maintained a presence in Zimbabwe ever since.

It is too soon to say how history will play out now that Mugabe has been deposed. But calls for the international community to reengage with the country have been swift and unanimous. With 70-plus staff working in six districts, Hand in Hand Zimbabwe is positioned to play a meaningful role in the country’s next chapter.

Let’s get to work.

By the numbers

Members trained: 8,516

Our Self-Help Group members save together, train together and start businesses together


Businesses started: 4,384

Hand in Hand entrepreneurs prepare food, rear cattle, weave carpets and more

Infographic: Jobs created: 90,745 Our entrepreneurs make their own success, breaking the cycle of dependency

Jobs created: 4,583

“Development happens through jobs,” says the World Bank. Our entrepreneurs make their own success, breaking the cycle of dependency

Lives improved: 18,332

Every business we help create in Zimbabwe benefits an average of four family members – young, old and everywhere in between

Why Zimbabwe

Once Africa’s fastest-growing economy, today Zimbabwe is a prime example of unrealised potential. Only a concerted effort from government, the private sector and NGOs such Hand in Hand will help restore its former glory.


Source: Unicef Poverty Atlas, 2015

77% of people in our operating provinces live in poverty

Source: UN Human Development Index

66% of employment in Zimbabwe is considered vulnerable

Source: UN Human Development Index

83% of employed people qualify as ‘working poor’, earning less than US $3.10 a day

Source: National Association of Youth Organisations

90% of youth are unemployed

Expansion map

Hand in Hand works in four of Zimbabwe’s 10 provinces, representing about one-quarter of the country’s population.