Company Empowers Sex Workers Through Employment Creation

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In an unprecedented move to empower vulnerable and underprivileged groups of society, a Kazungula based liquid soap manufacturing company has identified sex workers in Kazungula for employment in an effort to transform them for social progress.

Women Power Investments manufactures liquid soap to improve hygiene while also creating sustainable businesses for underpriviledged communities especially sex workers through employment creation.

The company was established in 2022 after receiving funding from the American Embassy through Kasane Support Group which is supported by Botswana Network for People Living with AIDS (BONEPWA).

It was established by BONEPWA Project Officer in Kasane Josephine Piet and has already identified five female sex workers with the hope of bringing more as the company grows.

Female sex work in Kazungula is reportedly driven by the high number of trucks that cut through the village particularly from Zambia, Zimbabwe and Namibia to the Southern part of Africa. 

The Southern Africa commercial truck route that pass through Kazungula used to bring an average 150 trucks passing through on daily basis and could be found parked along the highways as they transit to neighbouring countries.

In an interview, Piet said that the commercial truck route in Kazungula village has drawn women and young girls from as far as Gaborone and the neighbouring countries to this small village of less in hopes of earning quick and easy cash through sex work.

She stated that with the support of BONEPWA they established the company to transform these marginalised communities for social progress. She noted that BONEPWA had also realised that the company serves as an alternative source of income generation and employment for Female Sex Workers in Chobe.

‘‘BONEPWA had recognised a growing need for an alternative source of livelihood for women and young girls to eventually leave sex work and improve their quality of life following the completion of the bridge which has now brought low income since trucks no longer stop for longer period like before,” she said.

According to Piet, the idea is not to force sex workers to leave sex work but to provide an alternative job and since this is in line with behavioural change, they are hopeful that they will be able to choose a legitimate business which does not put their lives at risk. Piet said that she managed to identify the five sexual workers because she had previously worked in an  NGO’s and was specifically working with sex workers and she  used peers sex workers to help identify them.

‘‘The business will create alternative opportunities for female sex workers, including employment and recreation, as well as increased accessibility to better services that would help them to enhance their personal health, safety and security,” she said.

However, Piet has lamented that though they have managed to pull through all the required stages of running the business they still have a long way of retaining beneficiaries as some lost hope on the way and have to keep on replacing them. She stated that some move out, some find employment which result in having to train those who they bring on board. She said that they also need more machinery which means we still need more funding to be able to sustain our business.

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