CAMFED Association member, Learner Guide, and hairdressing salon owner, Tanzania
My name is Mariam and I am from Shinyanga district in Tanzania. I am the second born of two children. My older sister raised me after our mother died when I was only six years old.
Our difficult situation meant there were many times when I almost dropped out of education. Then, during Form 4 of secondary school, my teachers and community members recommended me for CAMFED support.
In 2019, after I had completed my studies and joined the CAMFED Association of women leaders educated with CAMFED support, I trained as a Learner Guide*. I returned to my former school to deliver life skills and self-development sessions using the My Better World curriculum. The topic of entrepreneurship got me interested in starting my own business so I could help my sister in return.
It was my dream to start a women’s hairdressing salon. Since an early age I have loved to plait hair and I learned with my sister when I was still at school. However, I faced the challenge of not having enough capital to rent a room and purchase the equipment. Instead I started by selling shoes and clothes, with the goal of saving money for a permanent hairdressing salon.
While I was slowly saving the money, CAMFED announced that an interest-free KIVA loan scheme was open to Learner Guides. I borrowed 400,000 Tanzanian shillings (about 170 dollars) from KIVA, which I added to my initial savings. That meant I could officially open my salon in December 2019.
It could have taken me many years, almost five years, to reach my goal of owning my women’s hairdressing salon but CAMFED through KIVA has shortened my journey to one year. I am thankful to CAMFED and promise to support my fellow CAMFED Association members.
The business is doing very well and keeps growing. I have employed three people, including one other CAMFED Association member, and I have formally registered my business with the Tanzania Revenue Authority. I have also added new services including direct mobile money payments and bridalwear rental.
The income generated has enabled me to clear all my KIVA debts. Soon, I would like to take another loan for expanding my services even more, to offer photoshoots, cosmetics, and wedding ceremony decorations.
The Community Development Officer is happy about my success and promises to support me to secure my next interest-free loan through a government scheme.
*Mariam’s training as a Learner Guide was made possible through funding from the UK government’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) under the Girls’ Education Challenge.