Opportunities that Enables Change

In my first post I spoke about how each of us can exhibit change by something as simple as picking up garbage while you hike can make an impact. This time I would like to introduce two more change makers that is enabling change in Tanzania.

The first is Erick Chrispin, a trainer for MS Training Centre for Development Cooperation (MS-TCDC), whom I connected with after reading his profile on GroAction.com. It was my first day in Tanzania and with a flight to Arusha in less than 2 hours; I quickly taxied to the MS-TCDC office to meet Erick. It was like meeting an old friend, we had a chat about the initiatives he is currently working on and took a tour of the centre. The two initiatives that stood out most to me is a pilot project training a selected group of youth’s social enterprise concepts and tools to start their own and the other teaching basic business concepts to homeless females in rural areas. I was impressed with the passion and energy that Erick has for training and social enterprise and was disappointed that I couldn’t stay for lunch to chat more.

On my final leg of the trip back to Dar es Salaam from Arusha, I had to find a place to stay and while searching for hostels online I came across Investours, a micro-tour company that takes you to meet potential microloan recipients that have qualified for an interest free loan from a microfinance bank. To qualify for such a loan meant that you are living under the national poverty line of Tanzania which is $0.65 per day while the international poverty line is $1.25 per day. I decided to give Peter Mallinga, Program Director of Investours Tanzania a call to see if they were holding a tour on my last day in the country. To my good fortune, not only were they hosting a tour, Peter picked me up at the airport and found a place for me to stay. Talk about a fantastic tour company! Next morning we headed to Investours office which they shared with their partner, Maisha Finance, a local microfinance bank that administers the interest free loans.

I was excited and nervous to be meeting the loan recipients. After an introduction of the organization, we drove to meet the first recipient, Mrs. Rose Musmi. Rose is 35 years old and has been in the charcoal business for over 5 years. She started her business after unsuccessfully finding a job post-graduation from business school; unable to find work and with a growing family, she has three kids of her own and several more kids from her deceased brother and sister, she decided to start her own business. Charcoal is the main source of energy in the communities as it is used for cooking and heating, so demand for charcoal is high selling out every week. With the $100 interest free loan she will increase her inventory and is confident that it will continue to sell each week. What I loved about Rose is her incredible strength as a mother, sister, daughter and wife; she told me her dream is to send all the kids to school and to move into a larger home for the entire family.

After saying goodbye to Rose, we went on to meet the second loan recipient Mr. Emmanuel Baridi. Emmanuel is 37 years old and has been in the woodcarving business for over 10 years, inherited from his parents. He has two kids and his wife owns and operates a salon. Woodcarving is a tough business to be in as the store he part owns is in a market with over 70 other stores selling similar if not the same items! They may sell one or two carvings per week if lucky. Emmanuel purchases woodcarvings and finishes them in the back of the store where workers sand and paint carvings, once complete he would sell them to tourists. What I loved about Emmanuel was his confidence in his business, having been in it for over 10 years he understands the ups and downs and knows how to manage his inventory.

I was very fortunate to have met Erick and Peter, both very passionate about microfinance and social enterprise and through their work enables change by creating new opportunities for people like Rose and Emmanuel. I’ll end this post with a quote from Margaret Mead,

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

Has there ever been an opportunity that came your way that changed your life? Or have you ever created opportunities for others that has impact their lives? Share your stories here!

If you decide to visit Tanzania, MS-TCDC Dar es Salaam will for the first time host a 4-week course on Social Entrepreneurship this November 5th to 30th. I also highly recommend that you go on a Investours tour while you’re in Tanzania. They are currently expanding to Arusha, so if you are in either Dar es Salaam or Arusha make sure to give Peter a call!

And for those of you interested and want to find out more about microfinance, there will be a Microfinance Summit next Tuesday, October 16 in Toronto.

Until next month,

Terrence Ho @terrencewkho