Help 100 disadvantaged rural women grow mushrooms

by Tekeshe Foundation
Oct 30, 2016

Learning Through Failure

Women Participating In Mushroom Project
Women Participating In Mushroom Project

The majority of women in the rural areas of Chipinge are disadvantaged educationally and economically. They rely solely on small scale farming as their source of income. Sadly, this area experiences recurrent droughts which leave the women with no crops. As a result they have no income to support their families. This project aims to improve the socio-economic status of rural women by providing them the funds to start income generating projects so that they can earn money to take care of their families.

In keeping with this focus we launched a mushroom project in 2012. Our approach was to train the trainer first. Seven women in the village participated in the project. They received training on how to grow mushrooms. As you can see from the pictures, everything was going well initially. The women were excited about the project as they started harvesting and selling the mushrooms.

What went wrong?

Sustaining the project became a challenge due to lack of funds. Inorder for the project to succeed we needed a borehole as mushrooms require a lot of water. We also needed a refrigerator because mushrooms are highly perishable. The funds received from selling the mushrooms were not sufficient to sustain the project. When the project was already underway, we received feedback from the community leaders that mushrooms dont grow well in the area due to scarcity of water. 

Though this project failed there were valuable lessons learned. Here are some of those lessons:

  • We learned that sustainability is very critical to the success of a project. It should be integral to the project planning process
  • We learned the importance of involving the community when deciding which projects to launch. The community knows the area well and also knows which projects are viable.
  • We learned that projects should be community led. When the community feels a sense of ownership of the project, the likelihood of the project being sustainable is very high. 
  • A project manager must provide project oversight
  • The project manager should be selected by the community and should be passionate about the project

Going Foward Using Lessons Learned 
We learn through our failures. The lessons learned are helping us take better action going forward. We have since launched a very successful chicken project. Six women are currently participating in the project. I attribute the success of this project to the lessons learned!

Best wishes,


Women Participating In Mushroom Project
Women Participating In Mushroom Project
Women Participating In Mushroom Project
Women Participating In Mushroom Project
Chicken Project
Chicken Project

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Organization Information

Tekeshe Foundation

Location: North Chelmsford, MA - USA
Website: http:/​/​
Project Leader:
Thelma Sithole
North Chelmsford, MA United States

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