WHAT WE DO AND SUCCESS OF OUR PROJECTS
Video Clips of Women Entrepreneurs:
Our contribution to grassroots efforts is internationally recognized. Mr. James Jesse and Mr. Rasel Madaha are 2012 awardees of the internationally recognized TIAW World of Difference 100 Award as the Champions of Women's Economic Empowerment Category. TIAW Annual Global Partnership Forum recognizes up to 100 extraordinary women and men from around the world each year whose efforts have advanced the economic empowerment of women locally, regionally or worldwide, including well-known women and men as well as “unsung heroes.” They have been awarded the prize because their efforts have been showcased through their participation in AGEN and AGEN-USA Inc. At the TIAW Annual Global Partnership Forum in 2007, TIAW announced it was creating a new awards program to honor women who have made an impact on the economic empowerment of women through a wide range of endeavors. These are often the “unsung heroines” of our societies, ordinary women who accomplish extraordinary things. This year TIAW Annual Global Partnership Forum has added 3 new categories, Men, Young women under 25 and corporations. The motto of TIAW is “Connecting to Make All the Difference in the World”. Congratulations to James and Rasel and we thank them for putting AGEN and AGEN-USA Inc. on the world map. Details can be found at http://www.tiaw.org/global_forum_2012/Home_Page.asp
We achieve our vision, mission, goal and purpose through the following specific objectives:
· Empowerment of women particularly those living in semi-urban and rural areas through provision of loans, microenterprise, and education so as to unlock their potentials towards improving their - social economic wellbeing and inspire others to do the same.
· Facilitating entrepreneurial training to members of women’s networks to foster their political, social, cultural and economic empowerment.
· Creating an environment through positive economic and social policies for full development of women and girls to enable them to realize their full potential.
· encouraging societal attitudes and community practices by active participation and involvement of both men and women.
· Building and strengthening partnerships with civil society, particularly women's and youth’s organizations.
· Developing international exchange and linkages through provision of advice, training and grants.
· Organizing entrepreneurial training to enable unemployed women and men to start own income generating activities so as to fight against poverty.
· Facilitating women and men to participate in fair trade products.
· Facilitating collaboration and networking with local government authorities, other governmental and international institutions and/or organisation to enhance men, women and youth empowerment and ensuring poverty alleviation. This goes hand in hand with promotion the involvement of Ageners in activities which may be of interest to them and related to the vision and mission of AGEN such as exchange of relevant information, researching, publishing, etc
· Facilitating sharing and mentoring, making full use of social media, among Ageners who will in turn share their expertise and experience with the rest of Sub-Saharan population in order to improve the welfare of the people.
· Actively participating in improving, promoting, and monitoring and raising awareness to the people regarding fundamental human rights norms, with the overall aim of encouraging respect and implementation of human rights for sustainable development.
· Facilitating the establishment of affiliated branches within Sub-Saharan Africa and abroad in pursuance of the implementation of its activities as the most reputable international NGO in Sub-Saharan Africa
· Undertake any other activity in pursuance of AGEN’s vision, mission, values, goal and purpose
For volunteer and internship opportunities as well as other programs, please visit program web page of this website to learn more about our ongoing projects and programs at http://www.agentz.org/index.php/program-areas
Some Success Stories
More and current stories at www.facebook.com/agenusainc
Making Ends Meet as Rose Matches with Bottles of Honey
Rose Mwakatwila is an entrepreneur who sells honey on foot as she matches across streets of Iringa municipality in Iringa Tanzania. She is a widow with three children (2 boys and one girl): Golden Mwakatwila, 26 years of age, dropped from school when he was in form two; 2)Emanuel Mwakatwila, 21 years of age, who dropped out of secondary school when he was in form one and 3) Anna Mwakatwila, 23 years of age, stood firm in her desire to attain education and is currently pursue Advance Secondary education. She is in form six. Rose’s husband, Mr. Roid Simon Mwakatwila retired from his job as Government’s officer for an Intelligence Unit in 199. He passed away in 2006. Sadly, the burden on household responsibility was placed on Rose’s shoulders at a tender age when her husband retired. The burden further increased when she became a widow in 2006.
Nonetheless, Rose has never lost hope and she has been engaged in honey business to make ends meet. Rose is one of the beneficiaries of AEIF project; specifically she has received a micro-credit loan worthy Tanzanian shillings 72, 000. Rose doesn’t keep beehives for honey production but she specifically buys relatively large volume of honey at a reduced price and sells in retail-like pattern. She repacks the bought honey in smaller used containers/bottles and then sells honey at profit. Before accessing the micro-loan, Rose had a capital that was enough to buy only two tins (20 litres each tin or equivalent 5 gallons in United States) of honey i.e. 40 litres. At that time, she managed to get a profit of Tanzanian shillings 100,000 and had to repurchase honey frequently; the strenuous process of repurchasing honey every two weeks led to additional expenses that had to do with transportation of the merchandise. Nevertheless and after accessing the micro-loan, today Rose can afford to buy 4 tins of honey (80 litres) and sells the product for a relatively longer period of 30 days (a month). Interestingly, she currently earns a profit of Tanzanian shillings 200,000. This means her business has grown by 100%.
The major challenge that Rose faces is that her business involves walking over long undetermined distances everyday in search of her customer. And that is extremely tiresome. Henceforth, she needs more capital to establish a business that doesn’t require her to walk over long distances. Rose believes that if she secures a nice spot and builds a stall or kiosk for her honey business then she would be able to grow her business and earn more income.
Rose deeply thanks MCO, AGEN and the American people for allowing her to better her life and improve her business significantly.
Zaituni Mbawala a Successful Grassroots Entreprenuer in Iringa
Zaituni Mbawala is a grassroots woman entrepreneur who belongs to Twitange group. This is one of the beneficiaries group of the AEIF under the supervision of MCO, AGEN’s grassroots partner NGO at Iringa. She has been engaged in poultry for the past 10 years. Mbawala has managed to send and meet the expenses of her four children to school: Hamisi Mbawala, 21 years old, pursue an undergraduate degree at The Institute of Rural Development Planning (IRDP) in Dodoma (the capital city of Tanzania); Asia Mbawala, 16 years, currently attends form five (advanced secondary school); Sudi Mbawala, 14 years, is in form one and the last born Zena Mbawala, 5 years old, is in kindergarten. Zaituni has been a breadwinner of her household for the past 18 years because her husband lost his job as an accountant at Iringa regional commissioner’s office 18 years ago.
As a beneficiary of the American funded AEIF project, Zaituni secured a loan of Tanzanian shillings 72,000 and transformed her poultry business. Before accessing the loan, Zaituni managed to buy only 3 bags of poultry feeds; following access to the loan, Zaituni can now buy 10 bags of poultry feeds. The outcome of this is that eggs production of her chickens has increased from 4 trays (of 30 eggs each i.e. 120) to 10 trays (of 30 eggs each i.e. 300) a day. Her net profit currently stands at Tanzanian shillings 55,0000 per day. Poverty has been made history and Zaituni’s family will never suffer from hunger; her children will finish up their education.
There are a few challenges that Zaituni faces in her business. Although, egg production is doing great and is beneficial, broiler production isn’t that much advantageous. In particular, there are times when getting a market for broilers becomes difficulty. All in all, she thanks MCO, AGEN and the American people for a loan that helped her revamp her business.
Martha Rapidly Transforms her Life and that of her Husband; from poverty to relative wealth
As young and beautiful lady, Martha Abel, aged 34 years with a toddler, is one of the fastest growing entrepreneurs whose interest is to continue taking risks and engage in various entrepreneurial ventures. Exceptionally standing out of the crowd, Martha offers many lessons that grassroots rural women living in remotest areas of Africa can learn from. A lesson that we should all learn from is that Martha’s motivation to become an entrepreneur was because she couldn’t meet her expenses and those of her household, small as it is. She specifically got married to a husband who could hardly take the shame of being unable to support his household. As a result, the husband, like many rural men in similar situation, transformed himself into an alcoholic. Martha, unlike other women who easily accept such situation as a common thing for rural women, had to think fast and take immediate action to address the situation. Unlike majority of rural women in similar situation, Martha decided not to shy away, took up the challenge and transformed her life and the that of her loved ones. She wasn’t going to watch her relatively small household of three dying from hunger and in scarcity of meeting daily basic needs.
How did she get there? Following the previously mentioned situation which had become extremely intolerable, Martha decided to temporary go back to her parents to get the needed support; however, she kept her marriage. At her parent’s household, an entrepreneurial spirit was further instilled to Martha and she successfully became one. Her parents sold a pig and provided her with a capital of Tanzanian shillings 70,000. She then returned to her husband and used the income to start a clothing business. She specifically, bought the merchandise from Igunga which is a town centre located three to four hours away from Kikhonda by a bus ride (since bus transportation isn’t that much reliable, it may take more hours or even a day when roads are in bad shape i.e. during rain season); a very challenging path indeed. And then she sold them at Kikhonda village market famously known as Gulio la Kikhonda in Kiswahili; although her business is fast growing, she hasn’t stopped getting merchandise from Igunga for her business.
In particular, her business took a new unbelievable momentum after she had received personalized business counseling from AGEN and AGEN-USA Inc. volunteers and an AEIF micro-loan worthy Tanzanian shillings 100,000. She used the income to revamp, expand and diversify her business. She used the fund to start a new petty business aimed at supplying household needs to her neighbors and those living in Kikhonda village. She specifically supplies things such as, among other things, cooking oil, sugar and soap. Her kiosk isn’t ready yet and she uses her living room in her grass thatched house to sell her merchandise. Only within a few months, her business has grown to an astounding value of Tanzanian shillings 1,000,000.
Using the profit that she has earned from her business and with the assistance from her husband, a self trained mason and builder, Martha has managed to build a relatively larger Iron roofed house to live in and transfer her business to. An indirect lesson can be learned here: it is always a good thing for husbands and wives to work together. As far as this case is concerned, we learn from talented couples who transform their lives using their different sets of skills talented; one as an entrepreneur and the other as a builder. Interestingly, locally made bunt bricks have been used to raise the walls of the building. The value attached to the building is Tanzanian shillings 500,000. The building is large enough to allow space for shop, living room and a bedroom for her family; such arrangement is common among villagers who engage in similar businesses. The building is in its final stages. All of the needed construction materials have been purchased. An important milestone achievement that Martha boasts of and that relates to the husband that she takes pride in, is the fact that she has managed to transform him to a responsible husband. Specifically, her husband is no longer an alcoholic and leads a clean lifestyle. More importantly and as tipped earlier, her husband fully cooperates in the business and always provides the needed support as Martha decides on the direction of her thriving business.
Getting to the nitty-gritty of her success statistically, Martha’s daily sales are currently worthy Tanzanian shillings 18,000 to 30,000. The net profit that she earns daily ranges between Tsh. 5,000 to 8,000: smaller as it might appear, Martha income is higher than that of many government’s employees. An alternative explanation is that there are less than 20% of Tanzanians with such income. And this means that Martha standard of living is and will continue to change very fast. Her enthusiasm and the skills that she has gained from AEIF interventions have indeed paid off.
Nonetheless, there are a few challenges that the thriving family business faces. Among other things, some of the customers who purchase merchandise on loan basis do not pay their loans. The major reason for this, as revealed by Martha herself, is that such customers treat Martha and her husband as rich people (which indeed they are as compared to other villagers) who could easily cancel the loans. Martha continues to be strict because she has to protect her business and encourages her customers to be hard working. Contrary to that, the business will collapse.
All in all and despite of the mentioned challenges, Martha is satisfied with growth of her business and she thanks JUWAKI, AGEN, AGEN-USA Inc. and more importantly the American people. The fund that the American people have provided and the training from AGEN and AGEN-USA Inc. volunteers (supported by the American people) has enabled her to better her living and of those that she loves.
Trading in Agricultural Business is Tough: a Lady in Action Makes Ends Meet Anyways
Extended drought periods that have increasingly become a common phenomenon in Singida region, make it harder for women entrepreneur to trade in agricultural produce. However, that shouldn’t be a reason for loosing hope as argued by Hajida Ramadhani. Working in such environment, Hajida, 34 years old and a mother of seven children (5 boys and 2 girls), has managed to grow her business and to meet some of the essential basic needs for her household. Hadija owns a stall on which she sells tomatoes, onions and other kinds of green vegetables.
Getting into the statistics of her business, Hajida had a very humble beginning; she specifically started with a very small capital of Tanzanian shillings 500 or $0.32 (1 Tanzanian shilling = 0.000631 U.S. dollars) and successfully grew her capital to Tanzanian shillings 30,000. At that stage, Hajida qualified for a micro-loan of Tanzanian shillings 50,000 from JUWAKI—this was made possible because of the hospitality of the American people through AEIF and AGEN & AGEN-USA Inc. volunteers. Hajida used the loan to grow her business to the value of Tanzanian shillings 100,000. His capital remained with her at the time when she repaid the loan. At the moment, the Tanzanian shillings 50,000 (that was given to her as a loan) has been passed to another woman entrepreneur. Nevertheless, Hajida’s capital is set to grow faster because of two things: 1) she can buy more merchandise and get more profit; only within a few months, her business is predicted to be more than the current Tanzanian shillings 100,000; 2) she has received individual and group entrepreneurial counseling from AGEN and AGEN-USA Inc. volunteers.
Interestingly, Hajida’s net profit from her relatively expanded business ranges between Tanzanian shillings 1000 and 2000. Although this income appears to be extremely low in the eyes of many scholars and in particular those living elsewhere, Hajida can meet most of the basic needs of her household. Although her household of 9 is relatively huge, Hajida uses her earnings to meet her daily needs by buying such things as food, clothing as well as paying for school fees for her children.
She proudly boasts that she can now handle a business worthy Tanzanian shillings 300,000 and requests that she be considered for that sum of money next time she applies for a loan (over $8000 that was directly given to the women as a revolving fund, continues to revolve among the women entrepreneurs indefinitely. It will continue to be under the supervision of AGEN and its partner grassroots NGOs. Hajida will surely be able to access the loan she has requested from JUWAKI).
Hajida thanks GOD, JUWAKI, AGEN & AGEN-USA Inc. and the American people for making her realize her dreams.
Title: Mama Stella; the Breadwinner of Six
The story of Mama Stella Chasweka, a beneficially of the US Department of State AEIF through AGEN, AGEN-USA Inc. and its partner grassroots NGO known as MCO, is a reflection of what has been happening in Tanzania over the past two decades. This can be summarized as a gradual but consistent shift of gender roles. Here, it has become more apparent that there is no clear cut boundary that separates men’s and women’s socially assigned gender roles. Full integration has not been attained yet but progress is promising. Mama Stella’s husband, a former automobile technician for the Ministry of Infrastructure Development in Iringa municipality lost his job eight years ago. He has not been able to find another job ever since. He has few options left; however, he has joined a fast growing pool of men who increasingly accept changes in gender roles. The bottom line is that, Ms. Stella has been the breadwinner of her household for the past eight years. She meets all of her household expenses and specifically supports both her five children (three girls and two boys) and a husband. This could not have been imagined a few decades ago.
Mama Stella’s business is located at Kwakilosa ward in the Iringa municipality. The brave and hard working woman owns a cafeteria that provides delicious meals for girls and boys at Kwakilosa secondary school. Stella also nicknamed Mama Casto belongs to Amani Group (MCO and AGEN utilizes traditionally and localized developed group lending) from which she received the loan.
What is important is that before receiving loan from AEIF Mama Casto used to have a net income of 2,000 Tanzanian shillings per day (60,000 per month or $ 36 per month as per February 2012 exchange rates). At that time, she didn’t have enough capital to buy merchandise to meet the needs of her customers. And she was in search of a dire need for a loan to expand her business; it wasn’t easy. Nonetheless, after receiving loan worthy 102,000 Tanzanian shillings or $61.2 (1 Tanzanian shilling = 0.0006 US dollars February 2012 rates), Stella utilized the loan and managed to nearly double her net income from 2000 to 3500 Tanzanian shillings per day (or $2.1). As per international standards, AEIF intervention has enabled Stella to raise her income beyond poverty level of $1 dollar a day.
Within the four months that stella stayed with the loan before it was passed to another entrepreneur, she had managed raise funds totaling Tanzanian shillings 420,000 (or 411% net gain). This income has enabled her to pay all of the tuition fees for her children. Equally apparent, a significant amount of the mentioned funds have been reinvented back to the business. Stella’s life will never be the same. AEIF has indeed transformed the live of Stella and those of her own. And for the better.
Stella sends her greatest gratitude to the American people.
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