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How I cultivated a thriving agribusiness in rural Tanzania–and teach other women to do it too!

Sara, Business Guide & Agricultural Entrepreneur, Tanzania

5 min read

I am helping to build a society that believes in women to lead and run successful businesses!

Growing up in the rural Chalinze District of Tanzania, my family depended on agriculture to make ends meet. We rarely had enough food to eat and life was tough.

After losing my father when I was very young, my mother became the sole provider for me and my four siblings. When I reached secondary school, she struggled to afford my school fees and essentials like uniforms and menstrual products. I was forced to miss a lot of school due to these financial barriers. It was a really hard time.

Just as I was losing hope, CAMFED stepped in to support me with everything I needed to attend and thrive in school. Having CAMFED’s support built my self-confidence and fired up my life ambitions.

My dream was to complete my secondary education, and I did.

After completing school, I joined the CAMFED Association–the pan-African network of women leaders educated with CAMFED’s support–and turned my focus to agribusiness. Determined to develop my small farm into a profitable business, I applied for CAMFED’s Business Guide program. Through the program I learned financial, entrepreneurial, and practical business skills which have helped me greatly expand my farm.

Now, I am not only able to support myself and my family with my business profits, but also provide vulnerable children in my community with school uniforms, pens and books so they can stay in school.

Being part of the CAMFED Association sisterhood brings a strong sense of unity, and encourages us to give back to our communities.

 

Growing climate change resilience and food security

Another way I help to keep children in education is to support families and communities to build resilience to climate change. It is a huge challenge for farmers across Tanzania, including in my community. I have seen the impact through droughts, floods and poor land fertility, which leads to a reduction in crop production and income. This has a knock on effect of pushing children, often girls, out of school

Through the Business Guide program I learned many practical agricultural techniques–combining Indigenous and modern farming methods for the best chance of success. These climate-smart agriculture techniques are enabling us to mitigate the negative effects we’re experiencing. I share my knowledge with many members of my community, helping them to better cope with climate shocks.

I have created a recycled plastic bottle drip-irrigation system, so my crops can grow even when rain is scarce.

On my own plot, I’ve implemented mixed farming: growing different types of crops together to reduce the risk of crop failure, maximize the resources available, and enhance biodiversity, which benefits the environment and makes my farm more sustainable. Mixed farming allows me to grow and sell different crops each season, boosting my profits all year round.

To further boost my business, I successfully applied for a loan of TZS. 550,000 (around $215 USD) from CAMFED, which I used to purchase more land and seeds–including okra, peanuts, pumpkins, beans, and maize. This funding, together with CAMFED’s investment in me and my skills, has really improved my farm. My business is directly helping my community, providing them with a steady supply of vegetables and maize throughout the year and combating food insecurity.

At times, I have had my abilities underestimated because of my gender, but I have overcome these challenges by remaining determined, and continuing to educate my community that agriculture is for everyone.

 

Powering a sisterhood of business game changers

I really enjoy being a Business Guide! I particularly like mentoring other young women in entrepreneurship to help them reach financial independence. I run regular sessions for members of my community–including men, who respect my expertise and are eager to learn from me.

Sara, a Tanzanian woman in a yellow top and black trousers standing in front of a chalk board leading a Business Guide session for community members.

Here I am delivering a business skills session for members of my community!

 

I have become a smart businesswoman with many different skills. I encourage young women into business so they can be independent, improve their lives, and benefit society.

I also support my fellow sisters in the CAMFED Association with business advice and connect them with new business opportunities. For example, I advised my CAMFED Association sister Maua on how to run her food supplies shop and mobile money business more efficiently.  

I mentored a CAMFED Association member named Jenifa on how to start her own business. Now, Jenifa is doing well selling vegetables at the local market, and using her profits to support herself and her child.

It’s not a one-way street, I gain support from my sisters too! When I need advice on how to improve my business, I speak to established CAMFED Association entrepreneurs like Eva–a large-scale farmer involved in pineapple production. I look up to her as a successful businesswoman with markets outside of the country, such as in Kenya.

I’m so proud of how far I’ve come as a woman in agribusiness, but I’m not ready to stop here. My next goal is to scale my business further and supply vegetables to more companies like large hotels.

As game changers, my CAMFED sisters and I are shifting mindsets by showing how educated women can become economically independent and confident to achieve what they want in life. Together, we are supporting thousands more marginalized girls across Africa to fulfill their potential through education.

Hear from more business game changers in our sisterhood!

Zeolia-Mlimakifi-53167-CAMA-Business-Guide-Kilolo-TZ-King-Philanthropies-April-2022

StoryTanzania

Zeolia

I am Zeolia, a CAMFED Association member and successful entrepreneur from Tanzania. I farm potatoes, keep pigs, and run an agroforestry business. I've trained as a CAMFED Business Guide to pass on my knowledge to other young rural women, and help create more opportunities in my community.

Martha-Fanny-Gaisie-770223-CAMA-entrepreneur-Citi-TV-GH-January-2022

StoryGhana

Martha

What brings me fulfilment and happiness is helping the less privileged in society. Through my business I look forward to training many more people in mushroom production and encouraging youth in agriculture - so that they look upon it more positively. Through the training, I hope to get at least 20 young women in a year into mushroom and agricultural production. I would say to them that they need attitude and skills, but most of all perseverance. You need a spirit of persistence, never giving up.

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