Things Are Moving Along…


Here’s the latest on what’s been happening at the JUAf Village over the last several weeks.

Our JUAf Village Dog – Lily

We decided that life on the farm would be a perfect life for a dog. So, Asha and I went on the lookout for a village puppy. We found our puppy rather quickly. Over the period of a couple of days, I heard a puppy barking non-stop outside my window in town. I tracked down the barking sounds, and found a puppy trapped inside a metal box with the lid closed. She was being kept inside the metal box from her owner since he didn’t have anywhere else to keep her. The owner was a little 10 year old boy from our neighborhood named Benson. He wanted the best for the puppy, but he didn’t have anywhere to keep her. Asha and I asked Benson if we could adopt the puppy, and take her to our farm in the village. Benson agreed that life in a metal box wasn’t the best life for a puppy, so he gave her to us. We asked Benson to name the puppy for us, and he decided to name the puppy Lily. Alas, we now have a JUAf Village dog named Lily. Life is good for Lily at the village!

Introduction of Village Banking

We introduced a second form of microfinancing called Village Banking to JUAf. To give you a bit of background on Village Banking….a Village Banking group is a support group of 30 members who meet weekly to provide themselves with three essential services 1) small self-employment loans to start or expand their own businesses; 2) an incentive to save, and a means of accumulating savings and 3) a community-based system that provides mutual support and encourages personal empowerment. Members of the Village Banking groups guarantee each other’s loans and run a democratic organization. Members elect their own leaders, design their own rules, keep the books, manage the funds, and are fully responsible for loan supervision, including enforcing penalties for non-compliance.

Village Banking is being introduced to the rural areas by the Tanzanian government. We invited two members of the government training team to come out to our village, and educate the women on the model of village banking. The women of the village will be trained on the village banking model once a week for 12 weeks.

Village Banking is primarily introduced in remote villages where access to a traditional bank is non existent. The actual ‘bank’ is a metal chest with three locks on it. The chest (rural bank) remains at the house of a member between meetings, however, that particular member cannot possess a key to any of the three locks. Each individual key to the three locks must remain with three separate members in the group. These members cannot be from the same family, and cannot be close friends. This method provides of safeguard from the money being stolen.

The members of the Village Banking group meet once a week, and purchase shares. One share is approximately $.75 cents, and each member can purchase up to three shares a week ($1.50) . Members of the group continue to purchase shares weekly, and all deposits are documented by the elected leaders. Each contributing member is then approved to take out a loan up to 3 times the shares that he/she purchased. The member has three months to pay back the loan plus 10% interest.

At the end of the year, the shares purchased by each member is returned to the contributing member, and the 10% interest is divided up amongst the group. Again, this is a method of providing loans to individuals to start small businesses, and it provides a method of forced savings with interest. It has been a very successful model in rural villages throughout Tanzania and Kenya. We are happy to offer it to the women (and men) of JUAf.


I mentioned in my earlier posts that we provided microfinancing loans to 15 women of JUAf. We told that women that we would followup with their business in one months time. Hence, recently we spent a couple of days visiting their homes, and businesses. We conducted a preliminary review of their business model , and provided consulting feedback. Here’s a short summary of a few of the women.


Juliet was provided a loan of $75 to start a business of vegetable farming. Juliet’s father-n-law gave one acre of land to Juliet and her husband. However, they were unable to cultivate the land, and grow crops due to lack of funds. She used our loan to purchase pesticide, seeds, manure and water. She decided to harvest eggplant. Juliet expects to harvest 10 large bags of eggplant a week, and sell at local markets. She expects to earn a profit of $38 a week. A harvest last 12 weeks, so her profit per harvest will be $456. She expects 2-3 harvests a year. Juliet will be able to profit $912-1368 per year for her family. She expects to pay back the loan within the month. Juliet hopes to use the profit towards building a brick house, and buying windows and doors.


Helen was provided a loan of $75 to start her vegetable business. Helen does not own land, so she decided to rent one acre of land from a local farmer for $35 a year. She has chosen to harvest Okra . She used the remaining funds to purchase manure, pesticide, seeds and water. Helen expects to harvest 10 buckets of Okra a week, and sell all 10 buckets at local markets for $35. She expects to harvest Okra for 12 weeks, and earn $420. Helen can expect 2-3 harvests a year. She will earn approximately $840-$1260 per year. She plans to pay back her loan within one month. Helen’s husband is blind, and she is raising their daughter. She is the main income earner of the house. Her husband built their house when he had vision, but the house has remained unfinished for six years. Helen hopes to use the profit towards finishing her brick house, and buying windows and doors.


TiaSimbora was provided a loan of $75 to raise sheep. She purchased three young sheep for $20 each. She used the remaining amount of the loan to buy deworming medicine for the sheep. She expects to sell each sheep for $60 in three months time. TiaSimbora can expect a profit of $40 per sheep in three months. She will continue to buy three sheep once a quarter. In one year, TiaSimbora can profit $480 on her sheep business, and will be able to repay back the loan within a couple of months. The sheep business isn’t as profitable as vegetable farming, and we have consulted the local women who have chosen to raise sheep that vegetable farming will certainly provide a higher income for the family. TiaSimora hopes to use the profit towards moving out of her mud hut, and having a brick house built.


Uenike was provided a loan of $75 to raise sheep, but she decided to use the loan to make her own local beer . She used the entire loan to buy 200 kilos of maize, and prepares the brew in her backyard mud hut. She sells the beer to the local villagers. Uenike profits $55 per month. Her annual profit is $650 year. Uenike has quite the business going in her backyard. We spent the morning at Uenike’s place watching her make the local brew, and had the privilege of tasting it (tasted like oatmeal with alcohol). Many locals hang out in her backyard for the day, enjoying the afternoon sun, and drinking her local brew.

Grandma Christina

Christina was provided a loan of $75 to start a vegetable farming business. Christina is widowed and her husband left her with six acres of land. She has never been able to cultivate the land for crops due to lack of funds. She used our loan to purchase pesticide, manure, seeds, and water. She also rented some cows to plow the land for planting. Christina decided to cultivate one acre of her land, and raise bitter tomatoes and eggplants. She expects to harvest 32 bags a months which will generate $150 a month per harvest. A harvest will last four months, and she expects 2-3 harvests per year. If all goes well, Christina expects to earn $1200 -$1800 a year. Christina hopes to use the money to finish her brick house, and buy some furniture.

We plan to visit all 15 women regularly, and provide business consulting skills in order to enhance their businesses even further. Once the Community Center is complete, we plan to conduct our business classes at the center every week. We look forward to providing our second round of microfinance loans to an additional 15 women in September.

Community Center

We’ve been building our community center for the last four weeks using local materials, and local labor. We hired a villager to make all the bricks for the center which provides him a good income, and minimizes our transportation costs to bring the bricks to our property. The process of making local bricks is an interesting one. Dirt is mixed with ash and water to form a mud paste. The mud is then poured into a mold, and set to dry for a couple of days. It is then placed into an outdoor oven for burning. The burnt bricks are then set aside for a day or two for cooling. We are told that the local bricks can last up to 100 years. So, we hope our community center will be around for a while.

We recently purchased the doors and windows for the center, and the roof should be up within the next week or two. We expect the have the entire center finished within the next three weeks. We will plaster the outside of the bricks to give the community center a finished look.

We plan to use the community center for many purposes to support the village. Initially, we plan to use the center as a central meeting place to conduct small business classes and training. The women of the village will need continuing education on business entrepreneurship. Additionally, the center will also be used as a Nursery School (preschool) three days a week until we are able to build our own nusery school someday. Currently, there isn’t a nursery school within walking distance of the village. We have approximately 35 children in the area. One of our goals over the next five years is to build a nursery school for the village children.


Tanzania is experiencing a severe drought this year. The rainy season is between May – August, and the area has received little to no rainfall this year. Hence, all crops are dying, and locals are unable to earn money or feed their families. We rely on our crops to not only feed the local villagers, but also as a source of income to fund the various projects for the JUAf Village. Therefore, we will need to invest in our water and irrigation system next year to be certain our crops succeed. We plan to hire a consultant to review the land, install irrigation systems, build additonal water wells, and water catchment systems in 2010.

Asha and I feel that it’s been a productive last few months, and we’ve accomplished a great deal in a short time. I’ll be heading back home soon, and plan to be back at the JUAf Village in the near future. I’m thankful that Asha and her team live in Tanzania, and are able to continue their great work managing the various projects for the women of Kikwe, and JUAf Village.

Thanks for your support!
Judi McAlpine & Asha Mruma

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