Pastoral Women's Council PWC Tanzania
Pastoral women have embraced economic empowerment initiatives more than ever this year, as many work to balance impacts of the economic challenges of COVID-19 with alternative sources of income.
One such challenge was the shutting of cross border business with neighbouring Kenya, limiting trade options. Pastoralist women took on this challenge and strengthened their small businesses to fill the gap.
Pastoral Women’s Council runs programs aimed at building capacity, economic empowerment, business skills development and financial literacy in building resilience and creating opportunities for pastoralist women.
PWC established 100 VICOBA (Village Community Banks) groups in local communities in Ngorongoro and Longido Districts from late 2019. This means that more than 2,500 women had access to VICOBA groups this year and were able to access and contribute to the model of shared economic support and micro-funding.
VICOBA groups are community led and organised, with 5 women working together to form the core committee. With a pool of funds sourced from VICOBA group members and donations, members make their case to the committee to receive access to loans. The modest interest repayments made on that loan help to grow the committee’s funds.
Namurru, a long-term member of the Naishiye VICOBA group, describes how the funding and business training she has received helped her to diversify her income and invest in more sustainable, less competitive markets.
[After an initial loan] “My business kept growing and I was now able to buy 50kgs of sugar, a parcel of tea leaves and 25kgs of rice... I opted to reduce sugar business and invest some money into [the] goat business because many women in my homestead bought and sold the same sugar product.”
“I was able to use part of my business profit to buy maize bran and cotton cake to feed my cows so that I could get more milk.
Updates from the Energize Project
This year, PWC also implemented the Energize project, a program that targets out of school young women to upskill them on financial literacy and provide opportunities to diversify their income to include the sale of solar products locally. The education program enrolled 101 participants this year, who received training on domestic biogas construction and solar panel installation. Of the initial cohort, 7 graduates have already been supported to start their own clean energy business.
Energize Girl Selina who lives in Malambo Village, is a talented traditional jewelry maker who was selling her wares to her neighbours and community members. Keen to diversify her income and save money to return to school, Selina applied to take part in the Energize program.
Selina is now assisting other young members of her community to better understand about saving for their goal while adapting to renewable sources of energy. She said, “I didn’t know better ways of saving, but now I have understood, and I am willing to teach others.”
In 2017, PWC started up and registered the Engishon Microfinance Fund, a social enterprise whose goal is to enhance access to affordable and flexible loans to pastoralist communities, especially women and youth, to enable them expand their businesses. In this past year, the fund continued to provide accessible loans facilities as well as business training to members of VICOBA groups. Ruth Lazaro, a young graduate from vocational training college accessed a business loan to start up her tailoring business. “Engishon Microfinance provided me with a loan of Tsh. 1,000,000 (approximately $435USD) that enabled me to buy two sewing machines, kanga fabrics, thread and other materials necessary to set up my small tailoring business.”
These interventions have been well placed to support pastoral women through the challenges and changes felt globally in 2020. With significant capacity built across communities, we look forward to seeing what women in all three programs can achieve together in 2021.