JUAf – First few weeks of the project


I thought I would create a blog to keep friends, family and donors involved in the work that we are doing in the JUAf Village of Kikwe, Tanzania. Here’s a bit of information about our project.

The JUAf Village was founded together by Asha Mruma, and me. I met Asha, a native Tanzanian and close friend, in 2006-2007 when I was living in East Africa for 16 months working for various non-profits. After spending many months talking about life in Tanzania, and the lack of opportunities for women, we decided that together (with the help of others), we could make a difference. We both shared a similar vision – to create a village of resources to empower vulnerable women and children to succeed and eventually escape poverty.

JUAf (pronounced joo-off) is a Kiswahili name with a dual meaning. It means ‘to understand’ and ‘the sun’. We named our village JUAf because we believe that all vulnerable women and children need brightness in their life, be understood, and be given opportunities to succeed.

The village of resources we envisioned together would entail buying land in very poor rural village where the people had no resources for income. We wanted to empower the people of the village to assist in the build-out of their own community through agriculture, livestock and microfinancing.

With the help of donors, Asha and I were able to purchase eight acres of land in a rural village called Kikwe which is located approximately 10 miles outside of Arusha, Tanzania. We chose the village of Kikwe because the community members have limited opportunities to earn an income. They earn an average income of approximately 1000 TSH or $0.75 cents per day. It’s a very vulnerable community in need of income generating activities and resources. Currently, JUAf is the only non-profit serving this community.

The plan for the build out of the JUAf village is for the community members to work collaboratively to prepare the eight acres of land for crops to harvest for market. The profits generated from the crops will go towards the build out of the village. It’s important for them to be a shareholder in the development of the village, and understand that the profits from their hard work will help create a village of resources for their community. We’ve also been paying the women a small allowance while they tend to the crops.

We purchased the land in February, and over the last few months, my partner Asha, has been busy working with the locals to clear the land of its many rocks and brush, and preparing the land for crops. We hired our first local villager, a young man named Moostaf, who is in charge of making sure that the land is prepared for irrigation, and cleared of rocks and brush. He is also responsible for making sure that all villagers are caring for the crops and educated on harvesting.

After Moostaf and the locals cleared the land, Asha hired a tractor to prepare the soil, and plant seeds for the upcoming harvest. We were able to cultivate all eight acres. With the help of the community, we planted corn, onion, cucumbers and beans. The rainy season begins in June and we expect to have our first harvest in August, and ready to bring the vegetables market for sale. We purchased land with a river running through it for irrigation so our crops are well watered.

Since the eight acres of land will generate the profits for the build-out of the JUAf Village, we then needed to create income generating activities for the villagers in order to empower themselves individually. We’re doing this through Microfinancing loans.

Microfinancing involves providing small business loans for the poor to assist in poverty eradication. It’s frequently referred to as’ banking for the poor’. Across Africa, 90% of the population do not have bank accounts since they do not have the funds available to open an account. Without a bank account, they are unable to take out a loan to start a business. With an 85% unemployment rate nationwide, it is vital for Africans to have access to bank loans in order to get out of the vicious cycle of poverty, and care for/educate their families.

We were able to raise money to provide microfinancing loans for 30 women in the Kikwe village. We held a meeting the other day with the women to discuss the details behind microfinancing, and the need to sign up for our microfinancing education classes. The typical microfinancing client takes 6-12 months to pay back the loan. JUAf Village charges a 10% interest on the loan monthly while a traditional Tanzanian bank charges 20-25%. In general, when microfinancing is supported in conjunction with educational classes, a payback of 96% is achieved. The classes consist of educating the locals on the loan repayment process, profit & loss, inventory, credit, agriculture development, livestock development, beehive development, and small business entrepreneurship.

The 30 women chosen for the loans were thrilled! The loans will be 100,000 TSH ($70) per person. The women have chosen two primary businesses: chicken rearing and sheep rearing. A baby sheep in Tanzania costs approximately 30,000 TSH ($21), and after three months, they can sell one sheep for 100,000 TSH ($70) at the market. A quick profit. They just needed loans to get started.

In addition to the land, we’ve raised enough money this year to build a Community Center for the villagers to meet and collaborate on ideas, future business, and plans. Currently, they sit outside on the ground under one of the large trees to discuss ideas. As you can see, they are in need of an actual building, especially during rainy season when it rains for three months straight. We plan to start building the Community Center in June.

To prepare for the build out of the village, Asha and I met with a Planner/Architect in the city of Arusha named George. George will help us design the JUAf Community Center and provide plans for us on the build-out of the entire JUAf Village once funds are raised. George helped design one of the local hospitals in town, and he has agreed to give us a good price for the plans and construction management since our village project is a not for profit.

I’ll be sure to provide updates on the building of the Community Center (with pictures), and provide updates on the Microfinancing businesses in the next few weeks.

Thanks to all of you who have supported our project with your generous donations of financial funding, and laptops. Thanks for your support.

Asante Sana.

Judi McAlpine & Asha Mruma


  1. Anonymous

    Judi and Asha: congratulations to a great start for Juaf! We look forward to hear more about the wonderful developments as the project matures. We are really proud of you. Love, Bryan.

  2. Judi & Asha,
    I am so very excited for you both to have pursued your dream. I look forward to hearing and seeing all the progress in the next few months.
    Love always,

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