Mama Bahati Foundation

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.

Mama Bahati Foundation

Established in 2007, the Mama Bahati Foundation (MBF) now serves over 5,000 women across Iringa and Kilolo regions in the southern highlands of central Tanzania.

MBF was founded by the former Archbishop of Tanzania, Donald Mtetemela, after he met a lady called Mama Bahati who was struggling to make a living selling bananas in Iringa. The high interest rates she was forced to pay to buy the bananas wholesale on credit meant that making ends meet was nearly impossible. The Archbishop lent her a small sum at a much fairer rate of interest so that she was able to increase her profits, feed her family and repay the loan. Soon after this encounter, the Archbishop appealed to Five Talents, asking for support in establishing a microfinance project in Iringa, and MBF was born.

The Mama Bahati Foundation focuses its services on women who are typically even more marginalised in rural society than the men. Since the women typically bear responsibility for feeding, educating and caring for children, supporting women through microfinance means supporting the whole family. Enabling women to become financially literate income-earners can also empower them within the family and community.

Learn more about our programs in Tanzania.

Melina at Her Roadside Shop in Tanzania


This photo by Adam Dickens captures Melina at work in her kiosk in Iringa, Tanzania. She is one of thousands of women who participate in weekly group meetings, where members can make savings deposits, borrow money and receive training in core business skills. Five Talents partners in Tanzania with the Mama Bahati Foundation (MBF), a local organization that was registered as an NGO in February 2006.

One of the standout features of Five Talents' programs is the business skills training component.

To find out more about Five Talents' work in Tanzania, please click here.

Photograph courtesy of Adam Dickens

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

The Secret Ingredient to Hidaya’s Successful Pastry Business


In this photo, Hidaya is preparing the legumes that she uses for her pastry business in Tanzania. She sells her pasties at a nearby school and to others in her community. Before joining a savings and loan group with Five Talents' partner, the Mama Bahati Foundation, Hidaya could not afford to buy the legumes in bulk. Now, with the help of a loan, she is able to buy her ingredients in bulk and, thus, save money and increase her profit margin.

Click here to read more about our work in Tanzania.