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WMI's Tanzania Loan Program Operations

Girls in AlailelaiGirls in Alailelai are raised primarily to be wives and mothers. Over 50% of the women in WMI's program have more than six children and over 20% have more than nine children. If a mother's life improves, she elevates her children with her. 100% of the borrowers in Alailelai reported that their involvement in the WMI loan program allowed them to provide more shoes and school uniforms for their children, as well as more meals.

WMI started the first loan hub in Tanzania to combat the extreme poverty and discrimination experienced by Maasai women in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, who have been relocated to this desolate area from their traditional tribal lands. The area where the women now live is highly regulated - access to outside visitors is limited, agriculture is restricted, and water is scarce. They are quite isolated and have few resources. Even with these severe limitations, women in the loan program have launched successful businesses, increased their income, accumulated savings and significantly improved their household living standards.

WMI also works with Irawq women in numerous villages (including Tloma and Bugar) surrounding the town of Karatu in north central Tanzania. Although the villages are rural, the women have formed a strong network between their communities. The women are very entrepreneurial and cooperate in selling their products, which extends their market reach and reduces spoilage and waste.

WMI Impact in Tanzania

Before entering the loan program:

  • The Maasai women had no individual income

After 6 months in the loan program:

  • 70% of borrowers reported annualized income of $150/year

After 12 months in the loan program:

  • 100% of borrowers reported annualized income of at least $250/year

WMI Tanzania Factbook 2015

View 2015 Tanzania Factbook

WMI Tanzania Factbook 2013

This dramatic improvement in income leads to more meals, more mosquito nets, more shoes and uniforms for children and overall healthier families for the borrowers. Review the 2013 Tanzania Factbook for a comprehensive look at loan program impact.

Tanzania Borrower Biographies

Since joining the loan program and receiving her first loan in January 2012, Napir is proud that her business has grown successfully through much hard work in a very challenging environment...read more

Region Background

Tanzania Loan OperationsWMI is providing loan program opportunities for women in the north central region of Tanzania, in the areas surrounding Alailelai and Tloma villages.

alailelai maasai tribesAlailelai (about four hours from Karatu) is an extremely isolated village in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area (NCA), home of the largest inactive volcanic caldera in the world - the crater is over 2,000 feet deep, with a floor that stretches over 100 square miles. This African wonder is filled with nearly every species of animals found in East Africa, making it a major attraction for tourists visiting Tanzania.

WMI maasai womenMaasai tribes can be found in Kenya and northern Tanzania. While the tribe's traditions vary slightly, Maasai people are consistently pastoralists. They greatly value their cows as a primary source of food, wealth and status. Animals are an integral part of Maasai life; calves and lambs sleep inside the huts with the family. The herds are kept in the boma at night, but during the day, Maasai boys tend to them as they roam across many miles of the NCA. (A boma is a group of huts made of mud and cow dung; the Maasai live communally and their family structure is very fluid).

alailelai maasai marketThe Maasai are the only tribe that lives in the NCA. This is a very challenging situation. Starting in the 1950s, the Maasai tribe was relocated from their traditional homelands in the Serengeti to the NCA and surrounding areas. The conservation area where Alelaili is located is highly regulated - access to outside visitors is limited, agriculture is restricted, and water is scarce. They are quite isolated and have few resources.

Because the Maasai today are leading similar lives to their ancestors hundreds of years ago, much of their economy is based on the trading of goods and animals; they do not have experience with fixed businesses, bookkeeping or finance. Tribal women are not commonly raised to be leaders. Instead, they are raised to be wives and mothers. Maasai girls are given important domestic responsibilities at ages as young as 5 and often bear children before they reach adulthood. With the launch of the WMI loan program, the women showed a sincere desire to utilize all the resources the program would offer. As Maasai women spend each day working tirelessly to care for their families, it is clear that women have the ability to be pivotal agents of change in this community.

alailelai maasai schoolTloma. Only about fifteen minutes from the rim of the Ngorongoro Crater and two kilometers from the town of Karatu, is the village of Tloma, where women trace their ancestry back to the Iraqw tribe that inhabits this region. While the Iraqw have their own traditional language, many in Tloma have adopted Tanzania's national language and speak Kiswahili, reflecting the relatively progressive nature of the Tloma community. Because the village is less isolated, the community is more integrated with the country's overall development (compared to more traditional tribes like the Maasai); nevertheless, most families are extremely poor, living on an average household income of less than 50 cents per day. Typical families engage in subsistence agriculture (maize, beans and soy beans) and raise livestock for home consumption and sale. Tloma's economy is active, which means the women in WMI's program have some experience buying/selling of goods. Their problem is access to capital to expand their businesses. With spirit and determination the ladies welcomed the WMI loan program as their opportunity to improve their earning potential and household living standards.

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