Carolina in Tanzania: A Soap-Maker's Dreams


Carolina was among the first women served by Five Talents' partner in Iringa, Tanzania, the Mama Bahati Foundation (MBF). She attended the first training session conducted by Five Talents back in 2006.

Initially, she did not take out a loan because she was already paying off one from another provider. Following the death of her husband in 2009, however, she decided to join MBF because she required a more manageable loan. Previously, she had been a housewife; now she needed to support her two children.

Carolina has since developed two main businesses. For one, she keeps poultry. Presently, she has 32 hens and 4 roosters. They produce approximately 30 eggs per day, which she sells locally. More recently, she has also started a liquid soap business. She makes the soap in her house (approximately 10 liters per batch), packages it and then moves around her local area selling it.

Carolina has also managed to make some additional income by renting part of her house to two families.


Most importantly, she has witnessed a growth in profits in both businesses – especially with the soap. She has been targeting the large student population who live within the local community (a university is 5 km away). Carolina also employs a helper to assist her with her businesses.

Carolina is in her 4th loan cycle, and her most recent loan of 200,000 Tsh ($125) was used to improve the cleaning process for her poultry project. She now feels that she is producing more nutritious eggs.

She used one of her previous loans to purchase a sewing kit, which she used to produce and sell furniture coverings.

Since joining Five Talents' local partner MBF, Carolina has learned to think on a much larger scale in terms of what she is capable of doing. She has also been able to share her experiences and lessons learned with the members in her savings and loan group. Lastly, she has been able to track improvements in her living standards.

Carolina decided to join MBF, as opposed to other MFIs, based on the fact that MBF is better at listening to their clients, especially those who are struggling. She says that because of the group-based lending of loans, her other group members are located close by and so they can easily communicate with each other and provide advice about their loans, as well as act as a source of support when times are difficult.

In terms of future plans, Carolina hopes to make a trademark label for her soap called "Rose Soap," which, if packaged properly, could help her sell the product more widely.

Photo courtesy of Adam Dickens