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May 1, 2012


by Erin Wilkinson Hartung

Microfinance is key to poverty alleviation and small business creation in Tanzania. SACCOS, is the acronym for Savings and Credit Cooperative Organizations, which are popular lending institutions for the rural poor that offer micro-entrepreneurs the opportunity to gain access to capital with limited resources. It is estimated there are over 1800 SACCOS in country. Often monies put in by SACCOS members are matched by lending institutions or NGOs sponsoring economic development.

Let me tell you about the SACCOS in Sakura.

This group is unique because their 150+ members each own several small businesses. Primarily farmers, they are working together to buy a community tractor to increase agricultural production to compete at commercial levels. They also have a women’s bread baking guild, beekeeping network, match making service as someone offered to find me a husband, pharmacist, shop keepers dealing in family apparel and a local restaurant where I got to try ugali, a cornmeal dough served more than rice as a side dish in East Africa.

I was impressed with the way this diverse group has bonded together economically, socially and culturally. They are thriving as entrepreneurs and as a community. These people invest in local SACCOS businesses, help create employment opportunities for the less fortunate, and they just want to have and be more. The Sakura SACCOS members asked for some entrepreneurship training, and they will get it when I return in a few months. They motivate and inspire; these people are role models for micro-entrepreneurs across Tanzania.

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