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Zeolia

CAMFED Association member and Business Guide, Tanzania

My name is Zeolia, I am a CAMFED Association member and entrepreneur from Kilolo District, Tanzania.

I grew up in rural Tanzania as the eldest child in my family and completed secondary education. After graduating in 2006, I joined the CAMFED Association, a network of educated young women leading change in our communities.

I have been a CAMFED Association District Chairperson for over three years, working together with my fellow CAMFED Association members and other stakeholders to meet CAMFED Tanzania’s objectives. Together, we support vulnerable and marginalized girls and young women to access education, economic empowerment opportunities, and grow to turn the tide of poverty.

I am also an entrepreneur, farming potatoes on four acres of land, running a piggery, and an agroforestry business. Through my businesses, I am able to provide employment opportunities for my community, as I employ five seasonal laborers. Last harvest season I paid 5,000 Tanzanian Shillings (over $2) per day to each of my employees.

Here I am at my potato farm.

In 2014, I started with a working capital of 200,000 Tanzanian Shillings (TZS) (approx. $86) and increased that amount to 500,000 TZS (approx. $216) during the first season my business was operating. I used this money to rent more land and purchase fertilizers for the next season. By 2020, my profit had more than tripled, and I was able to start my piggery and agroforestry business, where I have around 600 seedling trees. 

Through my business success, I built my own iron-roofed house – an accomplishment I am very proud of.

I have always been interested in providing assistance to fellow CAMFED Association and community members so that other rural women can operate businesses for income and support their families. My journey as a Business Guide started when I first heard of CAMFED’s Business Guide Program back in October, 2020. 

I knew that if I became a Business Guide, I could support and reach the community in need by sharing my skills in entrepreneurship.

Having been accepted to the program, I started volunteering six hours per week to provide mentoring and training on entrepreneurship skills to 15 of my fellow CAMFED Association members, using CAMFED’s Business Guide manual. As a Business Guide, I visit and provide advice to CAMFED Association entrepreneurs on the techniques to grow their businesses and on how to recover from business challenges.

I feel good being a Business Guide because the program gives me confidence and the ability to explore other opportunities available for myself and the group of entrepreneurs I support.

I have helped my group of sisters in numerous ways, including by providing business registration skills and sharing the benefits an entrepreneur gets after formalizing their business. For example, I assisted eight entrepreneurs to get entrepreneurship cards since their businesses are in the startup stage widely known as “Machinga” businesses in Tanzania. With this card, a small business owner pays 20,000 TZS (approx. $9) for a period of one year instead of paying taxes.

Another key element of my role as a Business Guide is to establish linkages between CAMFED Association entrepreneurs and civil community organizations, local government officials, and community lending and saving groups. So far, I have been able to link two entrepreneurs with community savings and loans groups.

I see Zeolia as a champion as she linked me with NGOs like Doctors with Africa CUAMM and CEFA [European Committee for Training and Agriculture] to support marginalized children under the age of five years old who are suffering from malnutrition.

Beatha, CAMFED Association member, Kilolo, Tanzania.

I also organized 10 young women of the 15 I support in the Business Guide program to found a profitable group business, as well as assisting them to register their business and identify other opportunities. Every member was required to contribute 10,000 TZS (approx. $4) and 15 kilograms of Irish potato seeds. We then used 100,000 TZS to buy fertilizers. We started potato production as a group after one of the entrepreneurs volunteered to provide a farm of one acre. We managed to make 500,000 TZS in the last seasonal harvest.

With my own profits, I support three girls to go to secondary school, and, like other CAMFED Association members, provide 2,000 TZS per month to our central fund, which is used to support philanthropic activities.

My community is proud of me because of the support I provide to young girls so that they can easily access their school needs and to stay at school, and because I share opportunities available for rural entrepreneurs.

I send my gratitude to CAMFED for creating a way of my life through education support, economic empowerment and leadership skills.

 

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