Many poor people in rural parts of coastal Tanzania and Kenya rely on the ocean and forests to make a living. We’ve been working with communities around the coast to help them develop alternative livelihoods, including livestock production and small scale grocery shops that give them a better income and take some of the pressure off their natural resources.
In Tanzania we’ve established nearly 200 village-based savings and loans associations since 2006. These are community-run banks where local people – often women – can pool their savings and lend money to each other. This enables local people who can’t get a conventional bank loan to borrow money to start new small businesses. We're working with the village community bank members to ensure that their businesses are environmentally friendly and sustainable into the future.
Over 23,000 community members have benefited from these village banks in Tanzania. They’ve built businesses ranging from goat and cattle rearing, fish processing and honey production to shops, dress-makers and cinemas.
To date, the banks have lent well over £1 million – and the repayment rate is over 95%, showing just how successful people’s business ideas have been. As a result, community and individual wellbeing have improved, along with services like health care, education and housing.
Even better, the idea has started to take root in other parts of Tanzania and neighbouring countries like Kenya – lifting more people out of poverty and sparing vital natural habitats.