Mwagala Adventist Women Entrepreneurship Group in Misungwi District of Mwanza region has managed to expand its business from 2m/- capital in 2018, to the current 15m/-. With only seven members, the group is able to engage in various activities, including making women hand-bags and sanitary pads.
It also deals with making snacks, the group's Secretary, Ms Joyce William said last week during the JICA Alumni Association of Tanzania (JATA) tour.
JATA is composed of Tanzanians from various public and private institutions who have been attending skill sharpening-related studies in Japan and other parts of the World, under the sponsorship of Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).
Once back from abroad, the association members then impart the acquired knowledge to group members in their communities, in areas of agriculture, entrepreneurship, health and education, among others. Mwagala Adventist Women Entrepreneurship Group is among JATA beneficiaries, where after being imparted with entrepreneurship knowledge, have been expanding their businesses, with the ability to produce 100 pieces of school bags and hand-bags per week, from the previous 20 pieces.
"We are also able to produce 100 pieces of sanitary pads per day. However, we are waiting for authorities' approval, mostly by the Ministry of Health, Community Development, Gender and elderly so that we can start supplying the pads. Schools, especially boarding schools in the region are part of our stand-by clients," said the Chairperson.
She says that it is a kind of re-usable pads which are affordable to all parents because it costs only 500/- per one-ten-piece package, compared to disposable pads that sell at not less than 1,500/-.
Not only schools, but also community members have shown interest for the sanitary pads, and are eagerly waiting for the supply, said Ms William.
Commenting on the market situation for other products (apart from pads), the Secretary said: "We make good business when schools re-opening season approaches, because almost every child needs a new bag. The snacks are also consumable in mass, though they have no major profit, but we believe that something is better than nothing." She affirmed that the group expects to make more profit when use of the pads is approved.
Members are looking for more clients from boarding schools in and out of the Lake Zone, not only for profit making, but also to serve the community cheaply.
Again, she added, availability of markets isn't an issue, because stakeholders, including Misungwi District Council have been connecting and supporting the group to attend various exhibitions, including the Dar es Salaam International Trade Fair, Nane Nane as well as Regional Business Forums in the Lake Zone.
"We really do business and make profit in exhibitions, because we meet clients from different levels, with different needs. We are thankful that Regional Business Forums have been organised in shortest intervals in our zone," she added, revealing further that: For the time being, the group looks forward to establishing a small industry, not only for business expansion but also creating employment opportunities once financial constrains are solved.
She said that 100m/- is estimated to be enough for factory set-ups, including piece of land and equipment (sewing machines and furniture) purchase.
"The land is cheap here. A plot worth 8 million is enough. We are looking for donors to support us because our capital is still small, and cannot be divided in other investments," she said.
The group's Chairperson, Ms Rosemary Igogo chipped in, saying that at-least 100 youth will benefit from direct employment for bags and sanitary pads manufacturing, plus nearly 50 indirect jobs for making snacks.
The main targeted youth are those living in vulnerable environments, said the Chairperson, clarifying that: "Members like those of Kiota Women's Health and Development Organisation (Kiwohede) is among our target. We have been offering them short-courses and expect to employ them once the situation allows us."
The Woman Magazine observed the group running its operations in a small letting room, with ability to accommodate only six tailoring machines. JATA Executive Secretary, Dr Rose Temu appreciated the work done by the group, assuring more business-oriented knowledge sharpening sessions for sustainability of their businesses.
"Our happiness comes when we see you grow into a large scale enterprise," she said.