In 2018, Global Fund for Widows and International Collaborative, a Tanzanian organization, began working together to empower Maasai widows in three rural Tanzanian villages. In each village, the 25 Maasai widows pooled their money, and with the assistance of GFW’s impact investment, started their own banks. These banks, called Village Community Banks or VICOBAs, enable the women to borrow money to then use on small business ventures. With loans from the VICOBAs, the widows will start a co-operative goat raising business by collectively purchasing land, a corral, and goats which they will fatten and sell. This structure also has the potential to become a value chain should more widows join in the coming years.
This venture will not only allow the widows to earn a living wage – the money they earn will have a life changing impact. Though most Maasai families do not have the ability to send their children to school, the $34 dollars these widows are expected to earn per year is enough to send one of their children back to school for a year! The typical Maasai dwelling has a round floor plan and the thatched roofs are unreliable and not resistant to weather conditions. However, after three years working with the goat business, the widows will have saved enough money to replace the outdated roof on her hut with a tin roof, which will also allow her to expand by adding rooms to her house, completely changing her living space. Whatever the widows should choose to do, these women are learning the valuable skill of saving through their work with the VICOBA, which empowers them to become independent and autonomous in her community.
Our investment will be returned over the coming years, as the widows start to repay the loans with their earnings, owing us 10% of our initial investment per year; an amount that is realistic for the widows and will allow us to invest in further projects in the coming years. Our investment in this project allows the Maasai widows to access work that is realistic to their lives, earn a wage that is truly impactful, and bring up many widows who were previously pushed aside, creating an impact that is truly priceless.