Economic Empowerment

Katito's Story: Happy in My Heart


"My face portrays the happiness from my heart because I simply feel prestige being a member of Mama Bahati. It was a bit hard for me to join MBF as all know that the Maasai are not business people by nature."

Katito (36) joined our Tanzanian partner organization, Mama Bahati Foundation (MBF), in 2014. As a women and a member of the Maasai tribe, Katito suffers from a wide-spread ethnic stereotyping that has to a large degree been internalized by the Maasai themselves.

The Maasai have been nomadic pastoralists for thousands of years, and have had little opportunity or need to start small business. Now, as grazing lands are increasingly depleted, entrepreneurship is becoming a necessity. Despite the fact that times are changing, the Maasai and in particular the female members of the tribe are still seen as poor businesswomen.

Katito's Trust Group consists of just five members located in Izazi Senta, 56km from Iringa town. Three years ago, her husband left town to find work, and hasn't been seen of since. Now, Katito is focused on covering her children's school fees.

"The main business I am doing is food, but sometimes I supply fresh milk around the streets. For the short period I've been in MBF I managed to pay the school fees and other expenses for my three children who are studying at primary school. The business has been expanding day by day."


In 2014, when Katito joined her local Trust Group, she had just Tsh 50,000 ($23). Since then, she has diligently saved small amounts which has, in turn, unlocked loan capital. As with all of the Five Talents programmes in Tanzania and Kenya, Katito's group received financial literacy training and business advice from the local Five Talents partners. Two years on, her savings have increased threefold.

"I am not scared to ask for the much bigger loans because; MBF officers have been giving us much training on how to manage and develop our small businesses. Through the profit earned, I want to purchase a piece land so that I can build a good house for me and my children. Through MBF and their partners, I am sure my plans will became true.

It's my advice for other Maasai ladies not to fear of taking loans for the business, the life has been changing, I am no longer dependent, I can do anything by myself. May God bless MBF and their partners to continue supporting low-income women in Tanzania."

Learn more about our programs in Tanzania.

A Welder on the Way Up


When you're sitting with Antony in his workshop, the conversation often turns to education. Despite - or perhaps because - his father's financial difficulties forced him out of school at the age of thirteen, Antony places a serious value on education. Whether it's the practical welding training he undertook several years ago, the business training he now receives via his local Trust Group, or the schooling of his three children, it's clear that Anthony sees education as closely linked to personal and financial fulfillment.

After he had left school, Antony worked a number of short-term jobs to raise the fees to pay for a short course in the basics of welding and metal work. This training turned out to be a good investment. In the area of Kiambu County where Anthony grew up, new buildings were springing up every day, and his welding business quickly found its first customers.

For two years Antony spent most of his days shaping metal into doors, gates, and window frames in an open field. Despite the demand for his expertise, limited resources meant that Antony struggled to get his business to gain momentum. By this time, Antony had a wife and three children. Providing his children with a quality education was a priority, but because Antony's wife Lucy was unable to find work most months his single income stream was entirely used up with three sets of school fees and household necessities.

Before joining the Group, I was really struggling. I wanted my business to grow, however I could not access capital or save any capital as my family’s needs would always take all my income. Mine was the only source of income as my wife stayed at home. My finances were still low as the business was in the early stages and I did not have a big client list.
— Anthony

In 2012, Antony was invited by a long-term customer and friend to become the 64th member of his local Five Talents Trust Group. For the first 6 months, Antony would regularly deposit small amounts that ranged from Ksh 300 to Ksh 2,000 ($3 - $20). During this time, Antony's Group received basic financial training and began to learn the basics of good business. After six months of demonstrating his commitment to the group and the business training, Anthony's peers choose to offer him a loan of $190 from the pooled savings.

When I applied for my first loan I realised that the group would work for me and that it was the financial partner that I really needed in order to access loans and pursue my goals... My first loan was worth Ksh 20,000 and I used it as capital to scale up my business. I was able to buy more materials and tools so that customers would find me with the stocks they needed. Successfully finishing my first loan repayment made me feel good although making repayments is demanding and never easy. You really have to be disciplined and focus so that the income is spent wisely to repay the loans and meet the important expenses.
— Antony

During the months it took to repay the first two loans (the second of which was for about $600), Anthony continued to benefit from the business and financial literacy training. Over time, the fruits of his work ethic were beginning to pay off. The combination of his growing capital and sharp business sense lead him to rent a large workshop on a busy street. With the remaining balance of the second loan, Antony was able to help his wife, Lucy, start a small grocery business.

When members of the Five Talents UK team visited Antony's Trust Group in November 2015, he was servicing his 3rd loan of Ksh 120,000. Depending on the rate of work, Antony's company Rafiki Metal Works was turning an average profit of Ksh 1,000 ($10) per day. His growing customer base has meant that Antony has hired two of his neighbours to keep up. And that's not all! Lucy's grocery business has also flourished.

Hearing Anthony speak about his plans leave the listener with little doubt as to his future successes: "I would like to expand my business by having another branch in a different location where I could reach more clients. The welding business has a ready market in developing areas like Murera Sisal and it is a potential place to work from. I also would like to increase my sources of income. I would like to build some rental houses that would give me a monthly income."


For the moment, he is focused on paying his children's school fees, but having seen the combined benefits of the welding course and the business training provided by the Trust Group, Antony says that when he feels his business and family are financially secure, he will pursue a more advanced business management course.

Learn more about Five Talents programs in Kenya and help more families like Antony's today.

Reporting from Five Talents UK with Adam Dickens Photography.

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

Dress-Making Shop Opens for Business in Kenya


This photo, taken by Adam Dickens for Five Talents, features the dress-making shop of Beatrice in the village of Kibugu, Kenya.


Beatrice once made ladies' garments on a sewing machine at her home. But after joining a Five Talents savings and loan group, she set her sights on expanding her business. Today, she has her own shop, a second sewing machine, and an employee.

In the coming weeks, Beatrice hopes to invest in an embroidery machine with the help of a $160 loan.

Learn more about Five Talents' programs in Kenya.