Cultivating Dreams and Empowering Communities Through Elimika Savings Group
In Kibondo District within the Kigoma region of Tanzania, a remarkable story of resilience and transformation unfolds. Meet Josephat Japhet, a young man with unwavering determination at the tender age of 22. Josephat, living independently, relies on agriculture as his primary source of income, cultivating beans, cassava, and maize.
Posted on 08 Sep 2023
Josephat's life took a profound turn when he became a member of the Elimika saving group, a collective of 30 individuals brought together by the Danish Refugee Council (DRC) under the United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) funded project.
This initiative aimed to empower smallholder farmers like Josephat to gain easier access to financial resources tailored to their unique circumstances.
The group received comprehensive training, equipping its members with the essential skills required to manage their operations effectively. The training encompassed vital aspects such as Village Savings and Loan Association (VSLA) operation, financial education, and business skills and entrepreneurship training.
To ensure sustainable growth, the group received VSLA kits and continued to benefit from ongoing technical support. The group has been instrumental in enabling smallholders to access crucial financial support, often out of reach through traditional financial channels. Through the group, rural residents can now gain access to finances through an equitable criteria designed to cater to their unique needs.
Before joining the Savings Group, I lived a hard life. I had skills but limited access to startup capital, making it impossible to start a small business. Even engaging in agriculture was challenging due to the lack of financial support for quality agricultural inputs like seeds and fertilizers.
/ Josephat, a member of Elimika savings group
The support from Elimika changed Josephat's life completely. Empowered by the newfound skills acquired through the group, he ventured into the barbershop business while continuing his cassava cultivation.
Josephat's journey towards entrepreneurship became a reality with a loan of 400,000 TZS (170.98 USD) from the group, enabling him to purchase equipment and establish a barbershop in his village. His business now yields a daily profit of 10,000 TZS (4.27 USD), allowing him to pay his weekly shares in the savings group while expanding his business.
But Josephat's ambitions didn't stop there. He took another small loan of 150,000 TZS (64.12 USD) from the group to diversify his income sources by investing in cassava agriculture. He later repaid the loan in accordance with the group’s by-laws.
Josephat's commitment to sharing his knowledge has also borne fruit. He trained four students to become professional barbers, and they have gone on to secure employment in different places, spreading their expertise to Katoro and Geita.
The Elimika saving group has been a catalyst for transformation in various facets of Josephat's life. He now feels financially secure. His message to fellow youth is resounding, "I would recommend other youth to join in such group initiatives to achieve their dreams like me."
Today, Josephat actively accesses savings and loan services from the group to fulfill his economic and social responsibilities. His life, once challenged by limited access to loans and quality agricultural inputs, has undergone a profound transformation thanks to the Elimika savings group.
This transformation, made possible by funding from UNCDF, stands as a testament to the power of community empowerment and the enduring resilience of individuals like Josephat.