Microfinance in Zeze

20150815_175617In August I spent a week in Zeze village and met the chair, vice chair and secretary of the microfinance group, as well as many of the women who have received loans.

I  also visited many of them in their homes and businesses and spoke to the Village Chairman, Village Executive Officer, and chair of MVG, who are running the scheme who all confirmed the positive impact the scheme is having on the village.

20150815_175301Petronia had her loan in May, thanks to a new injection of funds from Wabia. She buys palm oil from farmers in the fields and resells it in the market, making approx. £8 profit per week.  Recently her 8 month baby started excreting blood and she was able to take her to the doctors and buy medicine.  Without her business she said she would have been unable to do that.

Pendo buys petrol in large containers and decants it into litre bottles which she sells in the market and on the road.  Her profits mean that she is able to pay for her son, who was unemployed, to study to be a mechanic.

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Edita received her loan last month.  She is making bible covers for 80p that she sells for £1 in Kasulu, the town 40 km away that she visits twice a week.  She had sold 40 to a shop there the previous day.  She is saving to purchase a second sewing machine so her husband can also make them at the same time.  She also wants to branch into mpesa (mobile money)

Josrene had an initial £18 loan which she repaid,  then a £50 loan in May.  She collects maize and beans from farmers in the field and then grinds flour and then sells in bulk to buyers from Kigoma.  She is saving to build a bigger house for her family with larger storage capacities as she wants to sell wholesale directly in Kigoma in the future.

20150818_173509Godliva had a second loan in June.  She also sells beans and maize, but also soap. She gets a profit of 80p  per box for this.  She is saving money to get a soap factory so she can make her own soap.  This would cost £120 but she estimates it would bring her “20 a week profit.

What was generally striking was the pride with which the women talked about their businesses.  They have noticeably grown in confidence since I met them in January, and have a higher status in their family and in the village as a whole. Originally I was told that there was resistance from some men in the village, concerned that women getting loans would be a threat to their authority.

20150818_180652Now the same men ask Benedicto when their wives can get a loan.  It was touching to see a number of the women working closely with their husbands as partners in the business, whereas previously they worked much more separately. This appears to have had a positive effect on their relationships, which was confirmed by the women themselves. In the training women were told “Don’t use your loan to exploit your husband, rather money should be a tool for strengthening the love in your family”.   They seem to have taken this to heart!

Investing in honey production in Zeze village

Transforming rural lives with bees..

I first met Benedicto by chance in September and was very impressed by the cooperative he founded and his meticulously costed plans to avert poverty in his village by developing agriculture.  I returned to Zeze this week and spent two nights in the village finding out more.

Zeze is 41km from the nearest town and electricity supply.  Water is problematic.  Almost all of the inhabitants are farmers growing maize and beans, with an average annual income per family of around 300,000 shillings (£112).   This explains why many of the children have ragged clothes and no shoes.

Benedicto and his group have many plans to raise income, including growing more lucrative crops such as Moringa.  Currently his immediate concern is to put in hives before March 15th when the bees begin to swarm. He has worked out that by sourcing the wood from one farmer and carrying it on foot to the local fundi he can get the hives made for around £20 each.  He estimates each hive will generate 30 litres of honey and he has already found buyers willing to buy in bulk.  Therefore when he harvests in October he should be able to make a good profit that can be used to support projects in the village.

His problem is capital.  He has identified

150 good sites for hives. Currently he has funds for 15 hives.  He would like to set up at least 40.  Therefore he is offering anyone who invests £20 in a hive now a return of £25 in November when the honey is sold.  That’s a return on investment far better than your bank, and a good cause to boot..

If you would like to invest in a hive in Zeze village, or to know more about this project please email j.chapman@tanzdevtrust.org.