When you see a SELFINA entrepreneur whose business title is ‘restaurant’ or ‘café’, you may have to adjust your mental image of what that is. A local restaurant or café in Tanzania usually consists of a rough wooden table and some long, wooden benches, with the sky as a ceiling. Such places don’t even appear in the Lonely Planet’s budget guide, but if you’re looking for a cheap and tasty meal, and someone to have a chat with, this is the place to be. The food is all local; rice, ugali (a hot sticky dough, made from maize flour), plantain (a cooked savoury banana), all served with beans, vegetables, meat, and a variety of yummy sauces.
Mwanahamisi, along with one employee, works long hours to earn monthly profits of US$ 140 from her business. This is her third loan with SELFINA. In the past, she has borrowed and successfully repaid two loans of US$ 275 each. This time, she is requesting a larger loan of US$ 525 to purchase additional cooking equipment and extra cooking supplies on a larger scale. In the future, Mwanahamisi hopes to do well enough to expand her business to another location.
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 as a practical way to achieve the economic and social emancipation of women.
Customs and traditions in Tanzania normally make it difficult for women to own land and assets, thus they are termed non-creditworthy by financial institutions as they lack tangible collateral assets. This leads to poor financial support hence the poor access to basic needs and services for women with low incomes.
When a client needs working capital to buy a specific item, SELFINA buys the equipment for said client and extends a loan to her. The same equipment is then leased back to the client so they can use it while in process of paying back their loan – a process called a sale and leaseback arrangement. Once the loan has been repaid, SELFINA transfers the ownership of the equipment to the client.
The advantage of microleasing over traditional microfinance loans is that it allows clients to use the equipment as collateral for future loans with SELFINA, thus enabling them to borrow larger sums in the future.
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