Microcredit Programs Empower and Improve Women’s Well-being

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Kisinza Mzee Ibrahim is a 48-year-old single mother of two and a resident of Kalalangabo village in western Tanzania. She is also a volunteer community health worker (CHW) with LCWT. Like many in Kalalangabo, Ibrahim is a fishmonger at the village market. Fish sellers often struggle during low catch seasons and face financial difficulties due to lack of sustainable financing mechanisms for their businesses.

In Western Tanzania, JGI has been using microcredit COCOBA (community conservation banking) groups for several years to support community credit systems that invest in sustainable alternative livelihoods. This program is vital for people like Ibrahim to diversify their livelihoods, investing in opportunities that are less harmful to ecosystems while increasing their income. With the help of a JGI-initiated COCOBA group, Ibrahim was able to save TZS 2,500 on a weekly basis and receive business training from LCWT. Before long, she repaid a loan and expanded her capital to TZS 300,000. Other villagers look to Ibrahim as a strong, capable woman who built her own house while supporting her child’s education.

In addition to the COCOBA group, she attributes her success to family planning. As a CHW, she is a trusted source in the village for family planning education, counselling, services, and referrals. She is often called on to respond to misconceptions and myths about family planning and is a valuable mentor for young women in the community. With firsthand experience of the benefits of business investment and family planning, she shares her story and success, inspiring others along the way.

About Author

Ashley Sullivan is the Associate Director of Communications & Partnerships at the Jane Goodall Institute USA, where she works to connect individuals with Dr. Jane Goodall's vision, and the JGI mission to create a better world for all by protecting the interconnections between people, other animals, and the environment. Ashley graduated Stony Brook University with a Bachelor's Degree in Anthropology and a minor in Biology, and is currently a Master's of Science Candidate for Environmental Science & Policy at Johns Hopkins University with a focus on Environmental Justice. Originally from Brooklyn, New York, now a D.C. resident, she has a varied background including nearly 10 years of expert communications and digital marketing in the social and environmental non-profit sector. Her intersectional approach to this work has been shaped by a holistic world-view, having traveled to Madagascar and Ecuador for conservation research projects, leading communications for youth social justice filmmaking programs, and as a part of several professional groups advancing Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in environmental spaces. With skills ranging from conservation fieldwork, policy and advocacy campaigns, strategic communications, art, digital media, and design, Ashley believes in sharing information to empower and in the magic of storytelling to change hearts and minds. Through growing understanding, empathy, and justice, she is igniting positive change to create that better, more equitable world, every day.