Empower Mothers in Tanzania with Microloans


Having more than doubled our outreach during 2011, Opportunity is thriving in Tanzania because of your partnership. Your giving has a direct impact on our ability to provide the most marginalized entrepreneurs with the tools they need to work their way out of poverty. You are helping us foster transformation through the Opportunity International Trust Group model. You are creating a cycle of change in Tanzania; you changed everything for Helen.

 Helen, mother of four, values her role as chief contributor to the well-being of her family. As a mom who wants the best for her children, she boldly faces her daily challenges to ensure her children’s needs are met. Not long ago, those challenges felt insurmountable. For the past five years, Helen struggled each day, finding it impossible to earn a profit selling beverages and sarongs. She felt she was doing everything right, but just could not make ends meet. That’s when a friend told her about Opportunity. Armed with training and business capital, she expanded her supply shop to add a variety of products to attract more customers. She is using her increased income to purchase food and save for school fees for her children. Filled with new hope, Helen has a dream to purchase land to build a home. “I have seen a change in myself and in my family’s well-being; today, I am truly a provider. 


Lisa Msuya an Opportunity Client in Tanzania
Lisa Msuya an Opportunity Client in Tanzania

Did you know that 90% of Tanzanians live on less than $2 a day? We can do something about that.

Tanzania is one of the poorest countries in the world. Approximately 90% of Tanzanians live on less than $2 per day and 60% live on less than $1 per day. However, Tanzania is also a place thriving with potential. One out of every three Tanzanians is self-employed. Less than 5% of the population has access to formal banking institutions. Recognizing this great need, Opportunity is building a bank for people living in poverty. Since 2008, Opportunity has doubled its outreach in Tanzania and is in the process of converting into a deposit-taking institution. This is progress, but there is much work still to be done.

By contributing to this initiative, you are helping to expand access to financial services so that more people in Tanzania will be able to secure their savings, borrow capital for their businesses, receive training to develop professional and life skills, and purchase insurance to protect their assets. With your help, we can empower people to work their way out of chronic poverty, to transform their lives, their children's futures and their communities.

Take for example, Lisa Msuya, a model of transformation in her community. She came to Opportunity Tanzania with a dream of opening a women’s clothing store. With her first loan of  $115 and valuable business skills training, she opened a small boutique. But, Lisa didn’t stop there. Her boutique has been well received by the community and she has taken out additional loans to start a men’s clothing shop, a barber shop and a dry cleaners. Today, Lisa is the successful operator of four businesses in Dar es Salaam and she employs three workers from her community, where work is not easy to come by. “I am grateful that I can send my son to school and proud of the fine example I am setting for him.” 


Opportunity Tanzania achieved strong growth during 2011. As of September 30th, Opportunity Tanzania was serving 5,705 microentrepreneurs with loans, reflecting an 84% growth in just nine months, having begun 2011 with 3,093 clients.

Entrepreneurs like produce seller Joyce Williamson (pictured) are using loans to improve their businesses and generate more income for their families. Opportunity client Joyce Williamson sells produce in a market in Mwanga, Tanzania. 

Joyce is the chairperson of the Upendo Mwanga Trust Group in Mwanga, and a mother of four who goes to two markets in nearby Moshi twice a week to purchase her produce stock and sell it locally. She knew that to meet her family’s needs she would need to expand, but without access to capital she found it impossible.

Now, through a small loan, she’s been able to increase her inventory, making larger purchases at lower costs, increasing her profit margin. In the future she hopes to expand her business further by investing in a new structure and she says for the first time ever she’s confident that she can send all four of her children to school. 

Listening to our Clients: Launching New Loan Products

Opportunity Tanzania introduced two new loan products. The Pamoja loan (“together”) will replace the current Trust Group loan. The loan type will increase flexibility while adding cohesion to the existing group model. The groups will be more formal in structure with specific and consistent start and finish times and number of participants. All clients within a group will start and finish their loan cycles at the same time. A more unified and organized structure is expected to lead to improved training and rates of repayment. 

 In addition, Opportunity Tanzania rolled out the Vuka loan (“crossing”) at the Ilala, Arusha and Moshi branches. The newly designed loan targets smaller groups who can borrow larger sums of money and is seen as a graduated step between Trust Group loans and individual loans. The largest loan within the group cannot be more than three times the smallest loan in order to maintain the benefits of cross-guarantee. Like the Pamoja loan, the Vuka loan terms offer more flexibility than the standard Trust Group loan and lead to improved portfolio quality.

Client Emilia and Reported Kelly
Client Emilia and Reported Kelly

Emilia P. Mtei is part of the Trust Group called Chapakazi (translation: Hard-Working) based in Moshi, Tanzania. Her passion is working at her small grocery store where she sells fish, avocados and various other vegetables. Emilia looks over at her loan officer Levina and laughs aloud as we YAO members ask her questions about her loan success and business goals.

The women in this group are going into their second loan cycle, glowing with pride over their accomplishments. Levina translates for the women who say, “Women are good at finances and family.” I smile while snapping another shot of the gorgeous women sitting in front of me. Their happiness is contagious.

This post was written by Kelly Flanagan, a Multimedia Artist & Video Editor living in Phoenix, Arizona, who won last spring’s Tanzania Correspondent Contest as part of our Banking on Women campaign.

To read more about Kelly's trip to Tanzania be sure to check the Opportunity Blog at http://www.opportunity.org/blog/.

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Project Leader

Ally Lynch

Oak Brook, IL United States

Where is this project located?

Map of Empower Mothers in Tanzania with Microloans