Sharing Knowledge, Giving Voice

Audio postcard: Women helping women through communal banking in southern Tanzania

Yosefa Antony (left) shakes the hand of Faousta Amos, the secretary of her communal bank.

Out in the small village of Namatula, Tanzania, where you’re more likely to hear a rooster crow than the growl of a car engine, Yosefa Antony works on her rice farm.

She’s been farming since she was a child, she tells a reporter from Pride FM, a partner station of Farm Radio International. Now, she has seven children of her own.

Over her lifetime, she’s seen many changes in agriculture. A bushel of rice once sold for 2,000 Tanzanian shillings. Now it sells for 10,000. It’s a better price, but Yosefa still wishes she had access to a bigger market.

Her work hasn’t gotten easier over time either. All of Yosefa’s children have moved to the city to get higher paying jobs. So, Yosefa is left to farm without her children’s help.

She’s not alone, however. In her village 60 women have come together to help one another. They formed two different women’s groups, Upendo meaning “love” and Furaha meaning “happiness.”

The members of the groups all contribute to create an informal bank. Then, village members in need take out loans from the group.

The secretary of the groups, Faousta Amos, says that when the women in Namatula started working together, the whole community began to develop more.

Yosefa has taken out two loans to pay farm workers who helped her harvest. She proudly says she paid back both of the loans with the profits from her rice farm.

Yosefa finds Pride FM’s weekly farming program helpful. She wishes more NGOs and governmental organizations were involved in Namatula, but for now, she’s happy that her neighbours are here to help.

About the author
Felicity Feinman recently completed an internship with Farm Radio International in Tanzania after graduating from Carleton University with a Bachelor of Journalism. Her appreciation for the role of radio in agricultural development was first developed as a researcher for the Farm Panel on Radio Noon Montreal. Felicity speaks English, French, German and now, thanks to her internship, basic Swahili.