Despite growth resulting from gold production and tourism, Tanzania remains one of the most impoverished countries in the world. Approximately 36 percent of Tanzanians live below the poverty line. Yet the country’s economic potential is unmistakable.
One out of every three Tanzanians is self-employed, indicating a high level of microenterprise activity. Only 20 percent of the population, however, has access to a formal bank within an hour’s walking distance of their home. Recognizing this great need, Opportunity Tanzania, headquartered in Dar es Salaam, was established in 2007 and serves clients through hub branches in Dar es Salaam, Arusha and Moshi, and two satellite branches, in Tengeru and Himo.
Opportunity Internationals programs in Tanzania are fundraising to build a regulated bank that will offer savings products and give clients a safe place to save their money, no matter how small the amount.
In addition to individual and Trust Group loans, Opportunity has started offering Solidarity Group loans in Tanzania. These loans are tailored for a growth-oriented enterprise with group sizes of five to 10 entrepreneurs who run medium-sized businesses. Unlike the Trust Group lending model, Solidarity Groups receive larger loans, and clients make monthly loan payments versus weekly.
Only 4 percent of people in rural areas have a bank account and, while 70 percent of Tanzanians earn some income from growing and selling crops, only 1 percent has ever used a loan to buy seeds, tools or fertilizer. The new Agricultural Finance program will empower some of Tanzania’s most marginalized rural communities and will launch in the South Corridor, a region that accounts for the majority of the country’s agricultural activity and has high potential for increased food production.
Opportunity International’s work and expansion in Tanzania offers hope to people who have never before had access to formal financial services.