Empowering Communities in Tanzania: Maendeleo Vijana's Journey of Transformation
In the heart of Kiziguzigu ward in Kigoma region, Maendeleo Vijana, a Youth and Women Economic Empowerment (YWEE) saving group, began its remarkable journey in 2018 with 39 members, initially comprising 6 women and 33 men. This group's transformation from humble beginnings into a force for positive change was made possible by the unwavering support of the Danish Refugee Council (DRC) under the United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) funded project.
Posted on 15 Sep 2023
Maendeleo Vijana was not just handed financial assistance; it received a holistic package of support designed to empower its members with the tools and knowledge needed to thrive. The group embarked on a journey of growth, marked by comprehensive training in crucial areas such as business development, entrepreneurship, budgeting, business planning, price setting, and time management.
Additionally, the group was introduced to the intricacies of Village Savings and Loan Associations (VSLA), including the formation process, group constitution creation, membership criteria, social fund management, share purchasing, and credit policy sharing.
These trainings were not mere exercises but rather stepping stones toward sustainable operations. Maendeleo Vijana also received essential VSLA kits and continuous technical support to ensure that their operations were as effective as possible.
This comprehensive support transformed the group's financial practices, enabling them to easily issue loans to its members which led to the improvement of life among the group members.
The group chairperson reflects on the challenges the group faced before the project came into their lives. They struggled to secure capital for income-generating activities, exhausting every avenue, including seeking assistance from family and neighbors and attempting to access loans from traditional financial institutions. These obstacles created immense financial insecurity, hindering their progress.
Eventually, the group collectively decided to invest in mixed farming, specifically growing groundnuts and maize. In addition to serving as a source of income, this initiative also became a field farming school (FFS), where knowledge was shared with the wider community, further enriching the lives of all involved.
Through mixed farming, the group members not only cultivated crops but also developed and shared farming-related skills, which they applied to their individual farms.
The group's remarkable impact extended beyond the fields. They successfully realized profits of 482,000 TZS (206.02 USD) through their initiatives. This income allowed them to rent a farm, purchase seeds, and government subsidized fertilizers to expand their agricultural plans.
Furthermore, the group diversified their income sources by venturing into maize and beans trading, made possible by an additional loan of 5,000,000 TZS (2,137.19 USD) obtained from the government in 2021 that they would pay in 2 years.
They purchased and stored 67 bags of maize and 40 bags of beans, selling them at a profit when the prices went up. This success allowed them to repay 2,500,000 TZS (1,068.59 USD) to the government and reinvested the remainder in farming activities which would help them repay the remaining amount.
After 3 years of SG operation without having any small project, now the SG has its project. Through this farm field school and the business activities, SG members have significantly improved their economic welfare and gained new skills and knowledge in mixed farming. Most members have adopted mixed farming in their individual farms, anticipating higher yields than ever before.
/ Maendeleo Vijana's group chairperson
The impact of the group’s success has rippled through the community, inspiring the formation of two additional saving groups, each with 20 members.
As Chairperson concludes, "I extend my appreciation to DRC-UNCDF projects for sensitizing such SG initiatives. Without the SGs, we couldn't achieve our goals as entire SG members. As of now, the vast majority are financially secure."
The group’s journey is a testament to the transformative power of community empowerment and the ripple effects it can generate.
Through the support of DRC with funding from UNCDF, the project is helping communities like Maendeleo Vijana not just survive but thrive, creating a brighter future for all.