“My life was a life of struggle before I joined the VICOBA. I was working in other people’s houses earning whatever money I could get to provide for my family.
“I am the sole provider for my children. My parents used to provide some assistance but when my father passed away that support was no longer available and I also became responsible for the care of my mother. I joined the VICOBA because I saw it as an opportunity to release myself from extreme poverty. In the beginning
it was difficult to make the shares contributions as I didn’t have money to spare, but it was worth it once I got my first loan.
“Initially I borrowed 300,000 tsh from the VICOBA which I used to buy livestock for fattening and resale. I made an immediate profit of over 2,000,000 tsh which I then invested in growing onions as a small business.
“By bad luck I did not make much profit with the onions, but I have paid back the loan and am continuing the farm. I have split my investment though now and am growing my livestock fattening business which continues to make enough profit to support my family.
“Being part of the VICOBA has really changed my life. I feel very free compared to before.
“For my own family the additional income has enabled me to buy two plots of land. One I have established as a farm for the onions. The other I am building a house on. I have been able to put my daughter Jacqueline through a quality private secondary school and she is now in Form 4.
“As a woman on my own, before I felt some shame. But now I am an independent woman, I feel confident and strong and I am proud to be able to provide for my family without needing anyone else.
“The community is now proud of me too, and as a financially independent woman without a husband to answer to I am free to help other women. Many women now come to me to borrow money when they need help.
“This whole experience has motivated me to mobilize and support more women to be independent. I have now started two groups of my own where 48 women are establishing their own VICOBA with my support.”