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Eva,
CAMFED Association entrepreneur,
Tanzania

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

Then Eva was selected to receive a CAMFED bursary. As well as paying her school fees, CAMFED provided Eva with books, school uniform, shoes, sanitary pads and other essentials. She received this support for the duration of her time at secondary school. After she graduated, Eva joined the CAMFED Association (CAMA) — the network of women leaders educated with CAMFED support — in 2015.

Eva trained as a CAMFED Learner Guide, volunteering at her 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. With her experience of the challenges that disadvantaged children face, Eva 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.”

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

From January to September, when she is waiting for her fruit to grow and ripen, Eva focuses on the other businesses she runs. Her most profitable has been a clothing shop, with a turnover up to TZS 800,000 (around USD 280) per month. She also runs a stationery shop, and started the first mobile money business in her community.

Eva's pineapple harvest

Eva's pinenapple harvest pictured at her farm in Bagamoyo, Tanzania.

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

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

In 2020, all of Eva’s enterprises were impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, which disrupted supply chains and meant Eva’s customers had less to spend on her goods. Responding quickly with innovative measures, Eva was able to adapt her businesses whilst also providing support for community members. For example, through her stationery business she was able to facilitate distance learning whilst schools were closed. She 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, she was able to ensure she didn’t make a loss even where she supported some children with free papers.

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

Eva's clothing shop during COVID-19

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

Eva's mobile money business during COVID-19

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

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

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

She is participating in a program through the Sokoine University of Agriculture, which will help her to make further improvements to her farm. Eva hopes to become a great merchant and to support hundreds more children in their education.