WHEN people told Suma Mwambene that she couldn’t make a living by taking a little loan, she simply didn’t listen to them. Instead she stayed focused, thanks to the trainings on entrepreneur skills, gender and other risk behaviors she received from SAUTI, KIWOHEDE and other NGOs that are committed to support vulnerable adolescent girls and young women (vAGYW) to live better lives.
Ms Mwambene is a food vendor in Kyela town. She sells rice and Ugali. “I came up with this idea after struggling with life for a long time. I completed my secondary education but the results were not good, therefore I started to hustle on streets,” she said.
The work is both demanding and routine. Ms Mwambene said before opening her office, she was employed by one of food vendors in the area. She said her boss was paying her on daily basis and that the money she received was not enough, thus she always scratched her head on how to get rid of such challenges by opening her own businesses.
“I was employed by a woman in this area, we were doing the same business, cooking and selling food, but the wage that I was receiving was not enough for me, therefore I started looking for something else to do,” she said.
According to Ms Mwambene, officials from KIWOHEDE and SAUTI reached various girls in the district and she was among the luck who received trainings.
“We were trained on how to start business, develop capital and keep records, I was lucky to receive such trainings,” she said.
Under the DREAMS initiatives, girls were mobilised to form groups and later trained on economic issues, gender and entrepreneurship skills and other risk behaviors. Ms Mwambene added that after the training, girls were advised to form groups so that they can receive loans from the district council.
The district council provided loans amounting to 29.5m/-after receiving 65m/- from the International Labor Organization. “We were informed on the ILO loan through the district council, my group was among 12 groups that received ILO fund through the district council,” she said.
She said her group, which comprises of six members received 2.5m/- as a loan from the district council and that each member received 410,000/-. Ms Mwambene rented a room where she opened business and started the business immediately.
The experience she acquired from her employer helped her to conduct business on her own. Ms Mwambene said from 410,000 capital, she has managed to renovate her business room, insert wiring and connect electricity as well as buying chairs and other required equipment.
Today, Ms Mwambene says things are not the same. She is thankful to the ILO and district council’s support. She said the NGOs have helped many girls in the area to change their lives and that things will not be the same for those who seriously focused on training and implemented their plans.
“Today I can do whatever I want to do, this is my business and I am running it successfully, some of us dropped from training and others left the group after waiting for loans for a long time, but few of us remained focused,” said Ms Mwambene.
My day starts as early as 5am when I go for meat and vegetable purchase and return by 6 a.m. I start preparing food at 7am and start serving my customers at around 12pm. “What I earn now is enough for me to run the family.
Now I am the sole breadwinner of my family,” she said. Today Ms Mwambene happens to be one of the most gifted young girls who runs small but successful business in Kyela District.
She is a role model for young girls in Kyela District and Tanzania in general. She asked other girls across the country to join forces by forming groups that will enable them acquire loans easily and start up their own businesses.
“I am advising my fellow girls and young women across the country to live their dreams, they must work hard, ask for loans and attend training on entrepreneurship skills,” she said. She said the NGOs has helped her to know her health status.
“As we talk right now, I know my health status and I understand how to protect myself from dangerous diseases including HIV/ AIDS, this has been possible because of ILO and other organisations,” she said. Ms Mwambene is married. The young couple plans to get a child in the coming two years.
“I can now plan for my life, I know when to conceive because I can plan for it with my partner… I am happy about that,” she narrated. Giving the scope of the SAUTI project in Kyela, Ms Lilian Kisanga, a Social and economic empowerment specialist, under SAUTI project said the programme has proved to be positive for HIV intervention because under this programme, most of the girls are busy with income generating activities which are freeing them from engaging into risky behaviours. “There is a notable transformation from this type of intervention.
With ILO support, here in Kyela, a total of 12 groups have accessed loan amounting 29.5m/- which was disbursed into three phases since February this year,” she said.
She added: “We give them opportunities to first plan their own business plan, identify potential areas that need improvements and also ensure they get registered under the municipal by laws as a pre requirement to access loan,” As part of the SAUTI Project portfolio, the economic strengthening intervention and revolving funds support for vulnerable adolescent girls and young women (vAGYW) is implemented by Jhpiego in partnership with Pact, EngenderHealth and Kyela District Council with Support from ILO and USAID through the U.S. Government’s PEPFAR under the DREAMS initiatives.