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In the rural Zimbabwe district of Wedza, a new electric-powered motorcycle is helping bring income to poor women and easing the burden of looking after families.

The three-wheeler, known as Hamba (Go), powered by a solar-charged lithium-ion battery, is being piloted by start-up Mobility for Africa, which leases the motorcycle to women in groups of up to five.

Women in Business, WIMBIZ, kick started its COVID-19 Relief Project, to assist Nigerian women within the low-income bracket who are vulnerable to the impact of the lockdown. Knowing that they would need support to comply with the government’s lockdown restrictions designed to flatten the curve as well as stop the spread of the COVID-19 virus, the WIMBIZ COVID-19 Relief Project, is an initiative borne out of the challenges associated with the pandemic and the need for a collective action to combat the spread of the virus. 

Initially, three communities were considered; Ijeh in Obalende, Idiaraba in Surulere, and Mushin. However, due to the scale of the adverse economic impact of the ongoing pandemic and in response to the overwhelming support and feedback from our donors, we increased our relief package distribution target to 10,000 relief packs.

In addition, going forward they diversified their geographic focus and extended their donation window to enable them expand their reach. The relief packages have so far been distributed in these communities across the country: Ijeh, Shomolu, Orile, Aguda, Mushin, Ikorodu, Seriki Ado, Ikeja, LAWMA, Makoko, Oke-Iranla Ojo, Yaba, Onikan, Addo, Langbasa, Garki, Gwarimpa, Tungan, Maje, Jikwoyi, Durumi, Bundu, Okrika, Diobu Waterside, Bonny, Akinyele, Iddo, Lagelu/Egbeda and Ona-Ara.

The WIMBIZ leveraged on the diverse network of associates and received immense support from members of the Board of Trustees and Executive Council. There was also a representation of the secretariat staff led by the Executive Director of WIMBIZ for this well-needed outreach initiative. The collective effort from those within the WIMBIZ organization resulted in effective execution of this outreach and strengthened the desire to continuously remain the catalyst that elevates the status of women as well as promotes nation-building.

The WIMBIZ COVID-19 Project Relief Program distributed 11,919 relief packs, directly impacting over 71,514 Nigerians across 28 communities in 4 states within Nigeria, with donations from 503 cash donors and 18 in-kind donors. Sector demographics covered include healthcare workers, waste management staff, widows, law enforcement households, internally displaced individuals, and an old people’s home.

With Nigeria’s population estimated to be close to 200m and a large proportion of our citizens living below the poverty line, the pandemic has been catastrophic. The restriction of movement as part of the Government’s efforts to stop the spread of the virus has significantly impacted livelihoods, particularly those that depend on daily cash incomes. More focus is required to identify the vulnerable members of society across the nation and create safety nets to provide respite. The WIMBIZ COVID-19 Relief Package has assisted (and continues to assist) with supporting some of these households but there is still a lot more to be done to reduce inequality and achieve gender equality.

The WIMBIZ is committed to growing the network of professional women, delivering value-added programs, creating differentiated benefits for Associates, advocating for increased female participation at all levels & supporting our communities.

About WIMBIZ


WIMBIZ is a non-profit organization founded in 2001 by 13 phenomenal women and one amazing man with the objective of elevating the status and influence of women and their contribution to nation-building through programs designed to inspire, empower, connect and advocate for women in Business, Management, and Public Service. Our founders include; Dr. Omobola Johnson (Former Minister of Information and Communication in Nigeria), Bola Adesola (Senior Vice-Chairman, Africa, Standard Chartered Bank), Ifeyinwa Ighodalo (Current Chairman of the WIMBIZ Board of Trustees and CEO, DO. 11 Design Limited) among other notable personalities.

The core of what WIMBIZ embodies includes; inspiring women to attain leadership positions, advocating for gender parity, educating and empowering women to maximize their potential, creating platforms for mentoring, networking, and building value-added business relationships, capacity building for sustainable livelihoods and supporting our communities. In line with the last objective, we launched the WIMBIZ Covid-19 Relief Package Project on Monday, March 30, 2020 and distribution of Relief Packs in communities commenced on Wednesday, April 8 with a plan to provide five thousand (5000) relief packs (non-perishable food, personal care, and hygiene items) to vulnerable low-income households in Lagos – the epicenter of the Covid-19 pandemic in Nigeria.

In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic in Nigeria, many individuals are rallying around to help out in any way they can.

In the same vein, Nigeria’s first lady, Aisha Buhari is also at the forefront with her husband, putting in the much-needed work through the avenue of her “Get Involved Initiative” created to help in the fight against coronavirus.

Merck Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Merck KGaA Germany together with H.E. REBECCA AKUFO-ADDO, The First Lady of Ghana and her Foundation presented boxes of relief items to more than 1000 persons living with disabilities, people living with HIV/ AIDS and casual and daily workers with special focus on women who are most affected by the Coronavirus (COVID-19) lockdown, to curb its spread in Ghana.

The boxes which contain rice, cooking oil, milo, sugar, milk, canned tomatoes canned fish and other items, were distributed to them under physical distancing protocols.

Dr. Rasha Kelej, CEO of Merck Foundation explained, “Lockdown to fight coronavirus is going to hit most casual and daily workers very hard. Therefore, in addition to raising awareness about Coronavirus through our “Stay at Home” Media Recognition Awards, Merck Foundation decided to support African government’s strategy to save the people’s living and livelihood with the aim to integrate it into the COVID-19 combat strategy. After Our partnership with First Lady of Ghana, we are going to scale up this initiative to further support 600 to 1000 poor families in each of the following countries in partnership with their First Ladies; DRC Congo, Niger, Burkina Fuso, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Liberia and Sierra Leone with the aim to save the livelihood of thousands of families with special focus on women in Africa in the times of Coronavirus as part of “Separated but Connected” Merck Foundation Initiative”. 

H.E. REBECCA AKUFO-ADDO, The First Lady of Ghana and Ambassador of Merck More than a Mother emphasized, “We thank Merck Foundation, our partner for their support. We are committed to supporting those most affected by the current lockdowns in the epicenters of Greater Accra and Greater Kumasi, and we encourage others to partner with us to make life much bearable for our vulnerable, especially women and children.”

Dr. Rasha Kelej further emphasized that “Ghana and the rest of the world are going through exceptional circumstances, and the various institutions and bodies involved in it must support those who are unable to endure the conditions of their business’ closure so that they can support their families, and that positive participation contributes to the continuation of this large group by adhering to health instructions and quarantine in their homes because in case they are unable to do so, they will have to go out to search for other work, which exposes them and exposes everyone to the risks of transmission of this infection with the coronavirus.”

Dr. Rasha Kelej explained, “I’d like to shed a light on a very important issue; The pandemic has led to a horrifying increase in violence against women. Women and girls are under higher risk of domestic violence due to increased tensions in the household. Moreover, school closures translate into a heightened burden of informal care within families, affecting women negatively more than men. Many of these women are currently trapped with their abusers, struggling to access any support service, they are lonely and suffering in silence. Therefore, Merck Foundation in partnership with African First Ladies supports casual workers with special focus on women as part of our signature campaign Merck More than a Mother.”

About Merck Foundation

The Merck Foundation, established in 2017, is the philanthropic arm of Merck KGaA Germany, aims to improve the health and wellbeing of people and advance their lives through science and technology. Our efforts are primarily focused on improving access to quality & equitable healthcare solutions in underserved communities, building healthcare and scientific research capacity and empowering people in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) with a special focus on women and youth. All Merck Foundation press releases are distributed by e-mail at the same time they become available on the Merck Foundation Website.  Please visit www.merck-foundation.com to read more. To know more, reach out to our social media: Merck Foundation; Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and Flickr.

About Merck

Merck is a leading science and technology company in healthcare, life science and performance materials. Almost 52,000 employees work to further develop technologies that improve and enhance life – from biopharmaceutical therapies to treat cancer or multiple sclerosis, cutting-edge systems for scientific research and production, to liquid crystals for smartphones and LCD televisions.

Founded in 1668, Merck is the world’s oldest pharmaceutical and chemical company. The founding family remains the majority owner of the publicly listed corporate group. Merck holds the global rights to the Merck name and brand. The only exceptions are the United States and Canada, where the company operates as EMD Serono, MilliporeSigma.

Business Wire India