Alongside a small shop and sitting on a main road, Sweetness Enoke’s restaurant offers simple, local fare. Wooden walls, a roof and cement floors set her apart from similar businesses, as she serves chai to neighbors and passersby.
Finding money to expand an operation can be difficult anywhere, especially in rural Tanzania. But it’s often necessary to stay afloat.
For Sweetness, there was a simple and positive solution right at hand. Ganako Women’s Community Organization (GWOCO), one of Maasai Partner’s Tanzanian partner organizations, offers microloans to local women.
Sweetness is part of a new loan cohort in Gongali, a village just outside of Karatu. The group is in its third loan cycle, and Sweetness has already been putting her money to good use. She says she joined GWOCO in order to expand her business, which she has been able to do.
“It’s good, and it definitely helped us,” she says of the program’s impact on local women.
She was able to add chips—thick cut fries that are very popular in Tanzania—to her menu as well as other food. This will attract more business and therefore create more revenue.
She also started cooking at mnada (literally translated as auction), the giant market in Karatu that happens twice each month and attracts thousands of people. Sweetness used loan money to buy the tent and pay mnada fees. Like others at the market, she has a small stall where she’s able to offer refreshment and a little shade from sun that shines strong and openly on the grounds. As vendors and shoppers often spend the better part of the day here, opportunity for business is plenty.
In addition to offering more menu items and making some profit, this young mother has used her small loan to add solar to her house; this means a welcome, healthy and better alternative to no light after dark and allows children to study in the evening. Eventually, as she continues with GWOCO, she hopes to put chairs in her home.
Sweetness says the loan program has grown and believes it has improved her community.
“More women have work, and they’re able to pay school fees,” she says. Seeing her and her peers proudly make repayments and discuss their respective businesses solidifies this sentiment and attracts more women to join the group and make their own independent opportunities.