In 2013, a group of 24 women in the town of Mto wa Mbu banded together to create a woman’s empowerment group called Mama Na M’toto – which means “Mother and children” in Swahili. When HOP’s Tanzanian ambassador, Raymond Massae, told HOP about this group in 2016, they had already grown beyond their original goal of using small-scale micro-financing to send their children to school. Their membership had increased to 32 committed and motivated women, and they were running a small business selling goods at a local market. Their greatest need, they told HOP, was an office. Not only would a dedicated space give them somewhere to host their weekly meetings, it would also give them legitimacy and standing in the local community.
Because WWTrek passes through Mto Wa M’bu on the way to safari, the women and their mission fit perfectly into HOP’s mold, and we wanted to support them. With a cost of only $30/month, an office space was the perfect starting point to make sure they would use the help honestly. Since then, they have used the office as a meeting place, a shop, an office, and storage.
On HOP’s return visit in July of 2016, the women talked with excitement about the growth and improvement they had seen in their group since moving into their office. As they thought about their future, one sustainable business idea stood out: making and selling batik clothing. HOP provided the startup cost of $1,500 for their batik business. It is HOP’s hope that these small initial investments will allow these women to become self-sufficient, support their children in school, and empower others in the community.
The 32 members of Mama Na M’toto women’s empowerment group and their children
Exposure and advertising help for their new batik clothing business
Have enabled the women to do business – the group is on their way to self sufficiency
Recently, the mama’s have expressed a desire to move their location to a new office on a more heavily trafficked road. The original location is one block off of the paved road where no cars could get to. They have noticed that many safari vehicles move through the main road and would like a chance to sell their batiks on the main road. Although, they cannot do this without a store front. As of now, we are in the process of finding them a new store front.
It is our hope that the women will achieve success with their batik business so that they can support themselves by way of paying rent and having extra money to send their children to school. Once we work with this group it is also our hope to use what we have learned with them as a model for other groups in a similar situation in Tanzania.