Umoja Kuendelea Wanawake Jifundishe (Women of Jifundishe Developing Together) was started in 2010 when Unlimited Possibilities granted Jifundishe conditional funds to start a women’s micro-lending program, and the initiative has been an astounding success. Our aim is to put much-needed capital into the hands of women who are capable of launching home-based businesses. Over 75 women have taken advantage of these loans to date, and the funds have been used to start a variety of businesses. The participants have found success in initiatives such as crop planting, chicken farming, tailoring, used clothing sales, vegetable kiosks, and even small “restaurants”. The women come to the library on the last Tuesday of each month to make their payments and socialize; giving each other encouragement and support. To date, the project has enjoyed a 100% return rate without a single default or late payment.
Jifundishe recognizes the exponential benefits that come from empowering women, and the success of this program is due in part to a unique and effective implementation process. UKUWAJI is organized and managed by a team of four respected Tanzanian women, who carefully develop the requirements, assessment tools, and cooperative measures needed to ensure successful participation. Loan applications are assessed honestly and with a raw understanding of the risks and benefits. Participants, once accepted as loan recipients, are organized into groups. Although it is imparted that individuals are responsible for their own repayments, these groups create an additional tier of accountability, by which the group is responsible for the repayments for all members. Rather than enabling potential missed or late payments, this effort in fact creates a team-like feeling of accountability. The women can often be found shopping from each other, supporting each others businesses, and sending “customer referrals” to each other!