“My face portrays the happiness from my heart because I simply feel prestige being a member of Mama Bahati. It was a bit hard for me to join MBF as all know that the Maasai are not business people by nature.”
Katito (36) joined our Tanzanian partner organisation, Mama Bahati Foundation (MBF), in 2014. As a woman and a member of the Maasai tribe, Katito suffers from a wide-spread ethnic stereotyping that has to a large degree been internalised by the Maasai themselves.
The Maasai have been nomadic pastoralists for thousands of years, and have had little opportunity or need to start a small business. Now, as grazing lands are increasingly depleted, entrepreneurship is becoming a necessity. Despite the fact that times are changing, the Maasai and in particular the female members of the tribe are still seen as poor businesswomen.
Katito’s Trust Group consists of just five members located in Izazi Senta, 56km from Iringa town. Three years ago, her husband left town to find work and hasn’t been seen of since. Now, Katito is focused on covering her children’s school fees.
“The main business I am doing is food, but sometimes I supply fresh milk around the streets. For the short period I’ve been in MBF I managed to pay the school fees and other expenses for my three children who are studying at primary school. The business has been expanding day by day.”
In 2014, when Katito joined her local Trust Group, she had just Tsh 50,000 (£15.95). Since then, she has diligently saved small amounts which has, in turn, unlocked loan capital. As with all of the Five Talents programmes in Tanzania and Kenya, Katito’s group received financial literacy training and business advice from the local Five Talents partners. Two years on, her savings have increased threefold.
"I am not scared to ask for the much bigger loans because; MBF officers have been giving us much training on how to manage and develop our small businesses. Through the profit earned, I want to purchase a piece land so that I can build a good house for me and my children. Through MBF and their partners, I am sure my plans will become true.
It’s my advice for other Maasai ladies not to fear of taking loans for the business, the life has been changing, I am no longer dependent, I can do anything by myself. May God bless MBF and their partners to continue supporting low-income women in Tanzania.”