Low Interest Rates Help Micro-Entrepreneur Launch Second Business


Rukia in Tanzania wasn't about to take "no" for an answer. She had a hunch and she was going to see it through.

For a while now, the 54-year-old mother of three children in the Anglican Diocese of Ruaha had been selling chapatti, a kind of flat bread that originated in India. But with her brother's passing, she had to begin taking care of his two children as well. And the income from her chapati business just wasn't enough to put her brother's kids through school.

So Rukia had hatched a plan to start a second business – selling charcoal. Rising kerosene prices had given charcoal more appeal as a local energy source. The problem was that sellers like Rukia needed a permit from forestry officials to transport charcoal into town.

These permits don't exactly grow on trees -- at least, not in Tanzania.

But like a lot of determined entrepreneurs, Rukia kept pursuing the permit until, finally, it was awarded. She has since used loans from Five Talents and its partner, the Mama Bahati Foundation (MBF), to spark growth in the new business.

Besides paying for her nephews' school needs, Rukia has enough money to cover their hospital bills. What's more, she has continued selling chapatti because, she says, that business introduces her to new customers for her charcoal business.

She is now on her fourth loan cycle.

As a Muslim believer, Rukia is discouraged from taking loans with interest. But she has continued with Five Talents and its partner MBF in part because of the low interest rates.

"This makes Five Talents and MBF different from other MFIs, and this is why I am still with MBF," she told us. "Through [these] loans I have extended my support to my late brother's children and to my neighbors' who are in need."

Click here to read more about Five Talents' program in Tanzania.