Our Programme Manager recently visited Tanzania and reported back on the many successful outcomes of the project, which is run in partnership with the local organisation Kilimanjaro Women Information Exchange and Consultancy Organisation (KWIECO),
One of the key aspects of this programme is helping vulnerable women to create a source of their own income. We’re providing essential training and support to help women set up small enterprises and gain a sustainable livelihood.
We are also helping to set up women’s peer support groups across four districts. So far an impressive 48 groups have formed with over 1,000 members. These groups provide an opportunity for women to share information and awareness of women’s rights, particularly in relation to laws around marriage, succession and inheritance.
One of the foundations of peer support groups is their savings and loan schemes, providing loans which have enabled over 250 women to start new businesses and nearly 700 women grow their existing enterprises.
Another important success has been the number of women members of the support groups acquiring the confidence to stand at local village elections held in December 2014. Around 80 peer support group members stood for elections, with 68 elected as Village Council members and another five as the Village Chairperson.
The women are also receiving training on how to raise, promote and debate women’s issues and put gender on the agenda, and have started to participate in community debates.
UN Women’s Programme Specialist – Monitoring & Reporting for Africa recently visited the programme and was enormously impressed with what she saw, and considered Women’s Economic Empowerment for Justice as one of the best performing of the 19 projects currently funded by UN Women’s Fund for Gender Equality across Africa.
Here are the incredible stories of the women beneficiaries of this project:
After attending entrepreneurship training, Mwanaidi Maluf decided to scale up her business selling bananas and other fruit and vegetables and took her first group loan. Having learnt how to analyse the market and identify gaps and opportunities, Mwanaidi realised that there was a market to sell ready-made full-length dresses locally, as few local women wore them because they had to buy them from Dar es Salaam or get them made at a local tailor. Having repaid the first loan, she then took a second loan to start her new business. Now Mwanaidi goes to Dar es Salaam and buys dresses in bulk at wholesale rates and then goes house to house selling them as well as operating a stall at the weekly market. Now, many local women wear the dresses and Mwanaidi has effectively introduced a new product to the area. She makes now makes around TZS 20-30K profit per week.
Rosse Kiwango has used her newly acquired knowledge and information on women’s rights to support and advise several women in her village, including one woman who became ill and was abandoned by her husband. Rosse helped her to go to the hospital where she was diagnosed as HIV positive and started on ARVs. Rosse then sought out her husband and informed him of his wife’s status and encouraged him to get tested. He was also HIV positive. Rosse has subsequently managed to counsel them to get back together and they have just had a second child – who is HIV negative.
Yulita Kessy started a business selling bananas after taking a loan from her support group. She now makes TZS10K per week profit. She was also involved in starting a new group independently of the project and recently supported a ten year old girl of a very poor mother who was raped by an uncle and helped get the perpetrator jailed.