Costancia M. is 45 years old and lives in Dar es Salaam. She is married and has two children, one of whom is already 24, while the other one is only 6 and a half years old. Additionally, she is responsible for taking care of two other children whose parents do not have the means to support the family.
Costancia earns income through various businesses, including raising kuku (chickens), making baskets, and making vinyagos.
Raising kuku is a popular micro-business in Tanzania, especially amongst SELFINA clients. Kuku means chicken in Swahili, and raising them for sale is popular for a number of reasons. The activity requires little start-up capital and space, and, while the chicken are growing, they produce eggs, which can either be sold to provide a supplementary source of income, or eaten to provide a supplementary source of protein.
Due to Costancia's business skills, she has also managed to develop a successful vinyagos-sales venture. A vinyago is a beautiful, hand-crafted statue made from wood by members of the Makonde tribe who come from southeastern Tanzania. Woodcarving is an important part of Makonde life, both in ancestor worship and in their own myth of creation. Their wooden statues are of three main types: traditional masks, motifs of female ancestor worship, as well as more abstract, modern forms.
Costancia works 9-12 hours a day, 6 days a week at her different enterprises with the assistance of one employee. She currently needs a loan of US$550 in order to expand her businesses. Contancia thanks everyone for their support.
SELFINA has taken a lead role as a pioneer of micro-credit in Tanzania through Micro-Leasing. The organization is engaged in the economic empowerment of women in Tanzania through the provision of a leasing and leaseback microfinance facility. Customs and traditions in Tanzania make it difficult for women to own land and assets, thus they are termed non-creditworthy by financial institutions. This leads to poor financial support and poor access to basic needs and services for women with low incomes. One of the primary advantages of microleasing is that is allows clients to use the equipment as collateral for future loans with SELFINA, thus enabling them to borrow larger sums in the future.