Community Development

What many take for granted can only be dreamed of by communities in extreme poverty such as Zeze. But this dream isn’t impossible.

We believe everyone has the right to life’s basics – a roof over their heads, enough food to eat, clean water to drink and the education needed to build a brighter future.

We are dedicated to developing our community, from empowering women and young people, training and educating people, and giving people loans to help them finance themselves and lift them out of poverty.

Microfinance & Business Training

The need for money forces people to infringe and misuse natural environments and cause severe environmental degradation.

Zeze community, especially youth and women, lacked business knowledge and skills, starting capital and supervisions. Knowing these faults in the community, Mboni ya Vijana established microfinance scheme which trains women and youth to help them develop various skills aiming at building them to produce goods that will support income generation and livelihoods.

The microfinance scheme also teaches women and youth about the businesses and environmental linkage. It encourages all the beneficiaries to plant trees and more sustainable environmental practices.

Since the start of this scheme in late 2015 to date, it has reached and benefited over 1400 direct beneficiaries who have the families. These beneficiaries are good ambassadors to other people in the community about good ways of generating income without causing adverse impacts on the environments.

Empowering Women

We believe in fighting inequality, and we know that by empowering women we are also empowering the community.

Just one of the ways we empower our women and girls is through getting access to water. With it often being the women and girls duty to collect water for the household, if there is a lack of access to water in the community, this can affect their lives greatly. They may have to walk up to 5 kilometres a day to collect their drinking water from the closest dirty stream – that’s hours every day that could be spent studying in school, or earning a decent income.

We also train women and provide microfinance loans to help them increase their income generation. Our microfinance loans can help women start their own businesses – as a result women have been able to take their young children to the doctors and buy medicine, pay for their elder children to study and train in a vocation that will lead to work, and importantly, help the women grow in confidence.

Originally there was some resistance from some men in the village, concerned that women getting loans would be a threat to their authority. Now the same men ask Benedicto when their wives can get a loan.

It has been amazing to see a number of the women working closely with their husbands as partners in the business, whereas previously they worked much more separately. This appears to have had a positive effect on their relationships, which was confirmed by the women themselves. In the training women were told, “Don’t use your loan to exploit your husband, rather money should be a tool for strengthening the love in your family.” They seem to have taken this to heart!

Putting Zeze on the Map!

Zeze is a village of about 9000 people, but as recently as 2015 it did not appear on maps. On Google it is still blank, but on OpenStreetMap, thanks to the Crowd2Map Tanzania project which we have been an active part of since the beginning, every building and road is shown. 

Crowd2Map is a crowdsourced mapping project putting rural Tanzania on the map.  Since 2015, we have been adding schools, hospitals, roads, buildings and villages to OpenStreetMap, an open source map available to all, with the help of over 11,500 volunteers worldwide and 1600 on the ground in Tanzania.  

With minimal budget and no staff we have so far added over 4.1 million buildings and trained community mappers in 26 areas of Tanzania. It helps community development in places like Zeze. 

We have helped set up Youthmapper chapters in 7 different universities in Tanzania and given training to many different community groups.

The mapping is in two phases – firstly online volunteers trace roads and buildings from satellite images, then volunteers on the ground add names of villages, clinics, offices, churches, shops and other points of interest using a free smartphone app Maps.Me. 

We have also trained many local people around Zeze to use maps for navigation, community development and planning, and will continue to do so! 

Youth Camps

We know that by training and educating the youth we are not only giving them opportunities for their future, but we’re also ensuring our environment will be protected too. In 2019 we held a youth camp which delivered technical and entrepreneurial skills to youth so the diversifications of strategies and ideas used by Mboni ya Vijana to ensure income and food security are spreading quickly and successfully.

Youth who participated learned, shared and enjoyed different skills including beekeeping and honey processing, learning skills such as resources and finances, rocks and ground water behaviour, borehole drilling, soap making.

The camp also involved making bricks to help Zeze Secondary School build a girls hostel, Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), laws and environmental issues including adaptation to climate change.

The youth who participated in the camp were soon using their skills to make and sell products, and to help the community.