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Eva

CAMFED Association entrepreneur, Tanzania

 

I grew up in rural Tanzania with my parents, two brothers and one sister. My lasting memory of my childhood is of a family life shaped by poverty. Due to this, and the fact that we lived a long distance from my primary school, my education was far from secure. With the introduction of fees at secondary level, I had little hope of continuing at school.

Then I was selected to receive a CAMFED bursary. As well as paying my school fees, CAMFED provided me with books, school uniform, shoes, menstrual products and other essentials. I received this support for the duration of my time at secondary school. After I graduated, I joined the CAMFED Association—the pan-African network of women leaders educated with CAMFED support—in 2015.

I trained as a CAMFED Learner Guide, volunteering at my former school and delivering life and learning skills, as well as vital sexual and reproductive health information and psycho-social support, over a period of more than a year. Having experienced the challenges that disadvantaged children face, I could relate to the students, and, together with teachers and community members, support them to learn and thrive.

I have an agriculture business. I started because I have a love for agriculture. My parents have a farm.

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I'm a business game changer in my community!

Through education, I’m now fulfilling my potential as an entrepreneur and run a range of successful businesses—including mobile banking and a fruit farm. As a business game changer, I’m proud to be plowing back the benefits of my education by using my profits to support the most marginalized children in my community.

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In recognition of the “social interest” I was paying as a Learner Guide, I gained access to an interest-free loan through CAMFED’s partnership with Kiva, helping me to launch my first business, a fruit farm. I grow pineapples and I’m able to sell 500-4,000 a month during the harvest season in October, November and December. In 2017 and 2018, I sold 6,000 pineapples to a juice factory. I also sell them at my local market.

From January to September, when I am waiting for my fruit to grow and ripen, I focus on the other businesses I run. My most profitable has been a clothing shop, with a turnover up to TZS 800,000 (around USD 280) per month. I also run a stationery shop, and started the first mobile money business in my community.

Eva's pineapple harvest

My pinenapple harvest pictured at my farm in Bagamoyo, Tanzania.

I use some of the profits from my enterprises to support vulnerable children to go to school. In 2018, I was able to support 122 children with food, uniforms, books and school fees. My success in business and my community philanthropy are just some of the many reasons that I was elected by my peers as Bagamoyo District Chairperson of the CAMFED Association.

Training received through the CAMFED Association has helped me to grow and improve my businesses over time. I bought two cows and uses their manure to spread on my fields as fertilizer. I also learned how to keep records in business. However, I have encountered some challenges, including a competitive market for pineapples, as they are widely farmed. Though I have built a storehouse, sometimes my fruit turn bad before they can be sold, as I have no means of refrigerating them.

In 2020, all of my enterprises were impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, which disrupted supply chains and meant my customers had less to spend on my goods. Responding quickly with innovative measures, I was able to adapt my businesses whilst also providing support for community members. For example, through my stationery business I was able to facilitate distance learning whilst schools were closed. I distributed materials to students at their homes, assessing their situations at the same time and making discounts for those in need. Having bought the supplies in bulk, I was able to ensure I didn’t make a loss even where I supported some children with free papers.

We see reduced customers in our business and with school closing, we also have less physical contact as CAMFED Association members and with students. We have had to refocus our energy and become more innovative.

Eva's clothing shop during COVID-19

Me (right) at my clothing shop with my employee, a fellow CAMFED Association member, during the COVID-19 crisis in 2020.

Eva's mobile money business during COVID-19

My mobile money business was the first in my community and continues to be an important local resource.

At the same time, I saw an opportunity to expand my farm whilst the rainy season was in progress. I doubled the size of my pineapple farm from three to six acres, and also planted one acre of papaya.

I am proud to be able to provide employment for members of my community, particularly other young women. By May 2020 I was employing two CAMFED Association members in my shops, and providing seasonal work for 5-10 people on my farm.

I am participating in a program through the Sokoine University of Agriculture, which will help me to make further improvements to my farm. I hope to become a great merchant and to support hundreds more children in their education.

Thank you to our generous recent donors

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