Community Development


It’s been busy here on the project the last few weeks.

Here’s the latest update on the work we’ve been doing.


We raised enough money to provide microfinancing loans to 30 women in the village, but we have decided to start off the program with providing loans to 15 women. This allows us to manage their progress more closely when in small numbers. If the program is working sufficiently with the first set of 15 women, we will then provide loans to the remaining set of women. Asha and I didn’t want to be responsible for choosing which women should get the initial loans. So, we asked the women in the village to do a democratic vote. They needed to choose the top five individuals that they felt were in most need of an immediate loan. After the women voted, we tallied all the votes, and informed the villagers of the 15 women chosen for the first set of loans.

We then asked all the women in the village to attend our 3-Day Microfinancing Class. We wanted all the women to attend so we wouldn’t have to repeat our class each time we distributed loans. The class was taught by our friend Elipidi. Elipidi is a local Tanzanian who has his Masters in Community Economic Development. Since the women in the village have limited education (primary school) they are not educated on basic business skills. Elipidi taught the women various subjects on business; profit/loss; small business development: capital investments; customers: business costs; expenses, inventory, agriculture development, harvesting, spoilage, distribution channels, competition, livestock development, and pricing. It was the first time that anyone had ever come to the village to educate them.

On the final day of classes, we asked a friend of ours, Efrancscion, a local Tanzanian woman to attend. Efranscion was given a microfinance loan from Asha & I back in 2007. We asked her to share her story with the women of the village on how she was given an opportunity to have a loan, and start a business. We needed a speaker to get the group motivated on the importance of how opportunities, combined with hard work, can lead to success. Efranscioni shared with the group that she was very poor, and had little opportunities. She was given a $20 loan, and was able to start a very humble tomato business. Over the last two years, she has now grown her business into one of the most successful businesses at the local markets. She buys her tomatoes at a very cheap price from the hill tribes in the rural villages. She then transports them to the city where she sells them at a very high markup. With a great deal of hard work, she has been able to grow her tomato business into a very successful enterprise. She is now approved for her fourth loan, which will be $200. Efranscioni has repaid every loan on time. She is a very successful business woman, and very proud of her work, and her accomplishments. Due to her thriving business, she has been able to be independent, and pay her own rent, electricity, water and educate/feed her children. She has also been able to start a second business outside her home where she sells drinks to the community; sodas, water, beer etc.

After all the classes were complete we then asked the 15 chosen women to form watano’s (swahili term for group of five). Each watano had to choose a group name, and the type of business that the group will conduct. Forming watano’s helps create better economies of scale for business. They can share in transportation costs, labor costs, material costs, etc. Forming watanos also creates a security in the loan payback system. Each member of the watano is accountable for paying their individual loans. If one member of the watano defaults, the remaining four members of the group are required to pay for the defaulted loan. This system creates individual, and group accountability to pay their loans.

Below is a snapshot of the names and businesses the women chose for their groups:

Group 1:

Amani (kiswahili name for Peace). The Peace Group chose the business of farming vegetables. Each woman was granted a $70 loan. Their plan is to rent one acre of land per person from a local farmer. The women will use their loans to cultivate the land, plant seeds, purchase farming tools, and fertilize the soil. On average, each woman in the group can expect yearly revenues $900-$1200 (assuming a harvest of twice a year). A nice profit made by simply being given the opportunity to have a $70 loan to get started.

Group 2:

Neema (kiswahli name for Grace) and Group 3: Maendeleo (kiswahili name for Development) . The Grace Group and the Development Group chose the business of sheep rearing. I mentioned in the previous blog that an infant sheep can be purchased for $20, and be sold three months later for $70 at local market. The women each have the opportunity to buy three sheep totaling $60, and sell them within three months for $210. Each individual in the group should make approximately $840 in the first year from a $70 loan.

Community Center

Plans are moving along for the construction of the village community center. We met with a local builder named Morris who agreed to construct our center. The first week of June, Morris’ and his crew started the construction of the center by preparing the foundation. The center will be made of local materials. The women helped with the gathering of materials for the foundation by collecting stones from the land. We hired the local villagers to make 4000 bricks that will be used to construct the walls of the center. All of the locals who are involved in the construction of the building are paid allowances for their labor. The center will be 35’ x 21’ and be able to accommodate 50 people. It will have an office, indoor toilet, and two outdoor pit toilets. We expect the center to be complete in three to four weeks.


We have a stream that runs through our property, yet it runs through many farms. So, we have been placed on a communal water schedule. All the farms that use the stream must pay $20/year to be a member. Membership allows us to use our own stream once every two weeks for 24 hours. This is done so all farms are not using the stream at the same time, and depleting the water source. Currently, our scheduled day is every other Sunday. This water schedule isn’t going to be sufficient for our crops during the dry season, and we do not want to be dependent on the village water schedule. Therefore, we are building a well on our property so we can have access to water at anytime. The village does not have rights to wells built on private land, but they have rights to the stream. Hence, we hope to build many wells in the future in order to irrigate our crops sufficiently all year around. We’ve hired a local Kikwe man named Swalehe to build the well. The water table in the village is approximately 50-75 feet deep. We are paying Swalehe to dig the well at a salary of $10 a foot. Hard work, but a good salary for a local. We’ve purchased a pump to draw the water out of the well, and we will be investing in pipes to irrigate the land in the future.

Things are moving along…

Thanks again for all your emails, and support! Appreciate it!

Judi McAlpine & Asha Mruma

1 Comment

  1. Kyong

    Congrats on sucessfully kicking off the first set of loans! This is very exciting. I look forward to hearing more about the progress of the projects. Best wishes to you and Asha (and the rest of the crew)!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.