A Photo Essay from Isopilo, Tanzania

Enjoying chai outside a small business in Isopilo, Tanzania

This update is being written in a small cafe in Dar Es Salaam airport with retro brown flowered curtains blocking out the bright Tanzanian sun.

It is a very different backdrop to the hot, dusty and beautiful scenes we've seen this week. We've travelled to remote villages and busy towns taking pictures and collecting stories for Five Talents UK, a [charity that supports] the Mama Bahati Foundation (MBF) in Tanzania.

Helping rural entrepreneurs save and invest

Our first day visiting MBF's clients sent us driving 1.5 hours out of the large town of Iringa accompanied by enthusiastic and friendly loan officer Paul, to the small village of Isopilo. There we met a group of women, belonging to the loan savings group 'Upendo' (which translates as love), patiently waiting for us under the shade of a large eucalyptus tree.

Community savings group meets in Isopilo, Tanzania

We were keen to visit individual businesses to find out how the micro finance loans have made an impact in Isopilo. Valencia Kibuga kindly volunteered to show us her business, which meant travelling across the village to her house. Following Valencia as she perched on the back of a pikipiki (motorbike), along with her friend Maria, we could hardly keep up with their driver. He sped along the rough dirt road without any concern for the comfort of his two passengers - who somehow managed to balance and cling on as he bounced over the ruts and rocks. Our car was soon left behind in a cloud of dust as we rushed to keep up.


Valencia used to cut and sell maize to provide for her family before her friend Maria introduced her to the idea of micro finance loans with MBF. Now, after being part of the Upendo group for two years and successfully repaying three loans, she has the equipment and space to [prepare a local beverage]. She proudly shows us the vast oil drum cooking on a fire and tells us that with the loans and the training provided by MBF she now knows how to be more effective and economical with what she makes and sells and makes more profit.

Small business development in Tanzania

Learn more about Five Talents programs in Tanzania

Words by Emily Owen and Pictures by Adam Dickens for Five Talents UK.