Facilitating the creation of female entrepreneur groups in Serengeti and Butiama

Rhobi teaching entrepreneurs

The Hope team recently organised a gathering for women and girls in Serengeti and Butiama, Tanzania, to learn important skills to help them generate income. The entrepreneurship training included the sharing of information on how to work economically, ensuring a profit can be made from their industry of choice.

We tasked the women with identifying a business initiative that they wanted to explore in more detail, and we helped them to plan out how best to make this venture a success. Support in numbers can be important for a new business, with different skill sets and strengths coming together to build an even stronger solution.

Hope facilitated the women forming mutual interest groups, and provided seed capital of TSH 500,000 (Approx €182 Euros / $216 USD) to help them to start their project.

Talal Rafi explains in his article, Why Women Entrepreneurs Are Critical To Economic Growth, for Forbes “…the immense potential of women when given a more level playing field, such as mentoring, capacity building and access to credit, as well as their inherent leadership skills critical to success in entrepreneurship.”

One of the purposes of helping these girls and women to form their new businesses, is the independence it provides.

The income will help them to support themselves and their families, and will play a role in reducing gender based violence from their husbands and other family members.

Women receiving entrepreneurship training

Running the businesses will give the women confidence and a sense of empowerment, allowing these new entrepreneurs to realise that they can fulfil their dreams.

As well as providing two safe houses for girls escaping from FGM, GBV, child marriage, and rape, Hope also organises a number of event and initiatives, such as this entrepreneurship training. You can read more about these projects in our monthly updates from Hope’s founder and director, Rhobi.

A weekend of education and empowerment for girls in the Serengeti District

On the weekend of 29th and 30th May 2021, the Hope for Girls and Women Tanzania team collaborated with Grumeti Fund to provide empowerment sessions for local school girls in the Serengeti District.

On Saturday, 288 girls at Chamriho Secondary School were invited to take part.

Amina, who has stayed with Hope, bravely told her story to the girls gathered. This was an opportunity to inspire other girls and encourage them to seek help if they know that plans are being made by their family to have them cut.

Empowerment event

Amina has been able to reside at a Hope Safe House away from her family home, and acted as a proud spokesperson on Saturday.

Smaller group sessions took place throughout the day:

  • Form four girls took part in a discussion about human resources
  • Form three girls took part in an entrepreneurship workshop, which provided direction and skills to support them in setting up their own businesses, allowing them to be more independent as they move into womanhood.
  • Form two girls took part in sessions focused on the importance of having personal plans and being committed to making the best of your own future.

To support menstrual hygiene and environmental sustainability, the girls in attendance were all given re-usable pads.

On Sunday, 703 girls gathered from schools close to Rigicha. During this session, we covered:

  • Reproductive health and the menstrual cycle
  • Gender, the effects of gender based violence (GBV) and female genital mutilation (FGM)
  • Distribution of pads to all of the girls gathered

This was an important weekend of outreach and education, reaching 991 girls. We have found events like this are incredibly helpful for informing not just those gathered – but also their family and friends, as the girls will often go home and confidently discuss what they have learnt.

Thank you to The Grumeti Fund, Amina, and everyone on the Hope for Girls and Women team, as well as everyone who attended the sessions.

Cutter jailed for 10 years, with victim to receive compensation

In April, a female genital mutilation (FGM) cutter from Kitarungu Village, Tanzania, was sentenced to 10 years in prison and ordered to pay 1,000,000 TZS (c. $430USD / €350) to the victim. The girl’s parents were also jailed for 5 years for their involvement in arranging for the cutting to take place. The case was heard at Mugumu District Court on April 22nd 2021, with the cutting taking place in April 2020.

Police Officer Sijali and Mgesi, the cutter, is sentenced to prison for 10 years
Police Officer Sijali (left) and Mgesi (right), the cutter

FGM was criminalised in Tanzania in 1998 but still happens, particularly in rural areas where it is easier to conduct the practice away from authorities. In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic led to schools being closed which in turn opened a longer window for girls to ‘recover’ away from the eyes of the education system. School holidays will routinely be exploited for this reason, and these periods have come to be known as ‘cutting seasons’. They will often lead to an influx of girls in the Hope for Girls and Women safe houses.

In this case, the victim was admitted to hospital after being rescued and brought to the Hope for Girls and Women safe house in Serengeti. When girls are brought to the Hope safe houses, they are first given a health check, to identify if they have been cut. This is carried out by a health care professional, with action taken accordingly, as seen in this case, to get the necessary treatment where needed. Counselling is also provided to girls at the safe houses, regardless of whether they have been cut or not.

We hope that this will act as a powerful lesson for both cutters and parents alike, who are considering continuing this practice. We truly believe that the changing of mindsets towards this archaic practice through education is a key way to eradicating FGM in Tanzania. We have been conducting programmes to re-educate cutters and support them in making new, more positive life choices. You can read more about this important work here.

Using technology to aid farming in rural Tanzania

Farmer training in Serengeti

On 26th April 2021, we commenced agri-technology farmer training in Matare, Serengeti. This is an exciting way of supporting the local community with their work, whilst also engaging the attendees in education and conversation around gender based violence. Hope for Girls and Women, Tanzania, collaborated with PlantNuru, Kenya, to provide the training which explored the use of digital technology to help farmers protect their crops.

We had 20 farmers and 7 community leaders involved in the two day session.  The official opening of the training was delivered by Serengeti’s District Executive Director.  The District Agricultural Officer and District Community Development Officer were also in attendance.

Farmers participate in training

Day one covered the types of disease that can be found in cassava and Maize and how to differentiate between diseases and their impact to crops.

We looked at the approaches that can be used to mitigate the infection of these crops, providing a solution on how to plant cassava and maize when you want to increase your production and possible ways of planting cassava for seed.

Day two included a practical session on how to record crop type data by using PlantVillage app. We visited a maize and cassava farm where disease identification exercises were carried out. Attendees were shown how they can use the  PlantVillage app for detection of diseases and Pests. Farmers can seek advice from extension officers who are close by as well as from other users, using the app.

This is an innovative new stepping stone for farmers to benefit from agri-technology, which will help the production of their crops.

Twenty farmers were given smart phones at the end of the session.  As well as the PlantVillage app, their phones were installed with maps.me and the ODK form to support the reporting of GBV/FGM cases. All farmers signed the contract for receiving their phones to commit themselves on how to use their phones for the targeted work.

Farmer receive their smart phones

We had very positive feedback from the farmers involved in the session who welcomed this opportunity to enhance their output and support their local community, including vulnerable girls and women.

The PlantVillage app can be downloaded on the GooglePlay and Apple App Store.

We will bring you further updates on this important collaboration between Hope for Girls and Women and PlantNuru, as well as with the wider community, over the coming months.

Detecting pests in Maize and Cassava with the PlantNuru app

Agriculture is the backbone of the rural economy in Tanzania and the families of the girls at risk are farmers.

Although in theory there are networks of agriculture extension officers to help them, often in practice they are too far away to be of any use. Therefore, we were very pleased to learn of the PlantVillage Nuru app which seeks to help farmers improve their practice.  In February 2021 TDT  had an online training session for people interested in how to use this free app to detect Fall Army Worm (a pest for maize) and Cassava diseases which was attended by our volunteer and GIS specialist Herry Kasunga. 

Since then he has been out training our Digital Champions to use the app. As maize and cassava are the main staple crops grown in their areas this is particularly important.

Here you can see the Digital Champion for Burunga village, Agness Marinya checking her crops with the app.  She says, “It is an easy way to monitor crops and give you feedbacks on how crops grow, and I will provide training to other farmers in my village.

“With better agriculture people are less likely to need to cut their daughters and sell them for cows.  I have 3 children all girls. I am so proud of my work as a Digital Champion in Burunga, because there have been so much changes in my village.

“Now the number of girls who are cut is reduced. We all need to raise our voices to say no so our children can live free from FGM.”

The slides from our training session are here, and the recording here.  You can also view and download the slides Herry used for training the digital champions below.

Please watch this space for further updates on how this helpful app is being used in Tanzania.