Mwika Development Trust Fund (MWIDEFU)

S p a r k D e v e l o p m e n t

Mwika Microfinance Project August 24, 2011


First Focus Group Meeting


Some 40 market women were called to a focus group meeting. Each woman was invited to tell their story. One after the other these women told their story of backbreaking hard work with little to show for it year in year out. They saw no change in sight. There was no hope for them.
MWIDEFU’s decision there and then at the meeting to launch a microfinance project to enable them to have the working capital they so needed was received with jubilation. Within two weeks, the project was up and running, extending micro-loans to 104 women who formed themselves into 14 groups, but it was not without some hitches.

MWIDEFU needed to work with existing SACCOS (Savings and Credit Cooperative Society) which had been set up to cater to rural population. However, even a rural SACCOS was reluctant to deal with market women whom they considered to be at the bottom of the economic strata and therefore a high risk. MWIDEFU guaranteed 100% of the loans made to market women to entice SACCOS into taking part in the project.

A woman’s group

Loans from the SACCOS have six months to mature and interest rates are fixed at 24% per year.


Nuts and Bolts of the Project


  • Market women form themselves into groups of 5-10. They borrow and repay as a group,
  • MWIDEFU deposits $10 per member into groups’ accounts,
  • groups borrow twice the balance in their account with SACCOS providing the matching fund,
  • the more the groups save and increase the balance in their account, the more they can borrow.


A Win-Win-Win Situation

  • Market women get the capital they need
  • SACCOS earns extra interest
  • MWIDEFU has no administrative burden



Number of participants were increased by more than 300.

A Second Focus Group Meeting


MWIDEFU noted that some groups were actively borrowing and paying back time and again, and their loan sizes increased significantly with their savings. We invited members of these groups to a second focus group meeting in February 2009 to understand what they are doing with the loans and what impact the project was having on their lives. We found that:

  • all but one in 17 who came had cell phones while at the start of the project hardly any had one, 
  • many reared kid goats, piglets or chicks and made good profit from their sales months later,  
  • with their own cash income, they no longer depended solely on their husbands for children’s schooling.

In short, with as little as $10 per person, money in their hands empowered women and benefited the family. A medical doctor researching what impact microfinance has on health expenditures was surprised to hear that their spending for health care actually declined. Understandably so. Their families were eating better.

One message of these women had for MWIDEFU was,  a little more capital, then we can to anything.  “Twaweza,” meaning “Yes, we can.” 



Two additional SACCOSes were brought into the project and the number of beneficiaries were increased by 175. An upper tier named “Twaweza” was introduced for those groups with good track records. For these, loan amounts were increased from $20 per person to $150 per person (TSh. 200,000 which, with rapid depreciation of the TSh. is now $133) to almost 50.

Twaweza members of the Project Advisory Group


A Project Advisory Group was formed, consisting of SACCOS and MWIDEFU representatives and three Twaweza programme beneficiaries (Julieth, Esta and Janeth pictured above) who were elected by their peers. PAG reviews review project implementation progress and to deliberates on actions to be taken.

At the kick-off of the Twaweza programme, three friends of Mwika who provided the seed capital to enable MWIDEFU to start the Project in 2007 were honoured with kangas. Standing with them is Volunteer Ruwaichi Machange, Treasurer of MWIDEFU who also coordinates the Microfinance Project.
Microfinance Projects have been made possible by generous support from
the Rotary Clubs of Shoreline Breakfast Seattle and Chico of California
the Diplomatic Spouses’ Group of Dar es Salaam, and
friends and family of Mwika community


The Story of Julieth Ngowi


Like many women in Mwika, Julieth was a petty trader in the market. She had learnt to sew. But without capital, the newly acquired skill took her nowhere. After joining the project, she was able to make her income grow. She bought a sewing machine, then three more. Now she has a tailoring shop with three assistant. She is a Twaweza member of the project.







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