Rachel

Rachel’s two ‘career-break’ Experiences in East Africa helped her future job choices – and were a lot of fun!

MV viewIn 2006, thinking of moving into international development, she quit her job and pent 6 months working with www.majimazuri.org. This was her first encounter with microfinance; Maji Mazuri started as a micro-enterprise project for a group of 5 women who had formerly been working as prostitutes to feed their children. A microloan enabled them to set up a small tea kiosk and generate income from selling tea in the slums where they lived (right). “I was so struck by the simplicity yet huge impact of the idea – lend a group of women £30 and suddenly they can feed their children without having to work as prostitutes. I knew I had to find out more.”

Rachel returned to the UK and did a Masters in Development, specialising in microfinance, and eventually ended up working in the sector. Before that, however, she spent another month on a Microfinance Experience: “In 2011, I managed to persuade my boss to give a month of unpaid leave, saved up and took off to Tanzania where I was lucky enough to visit the Mama Bahati Foundation, an all-women microfinance project in Iringa which  offers small loans, savings and training to women in remote, rural areas. It was incredible being welcomed into their meetings, sitting chatting under a tree about their businesses (and trying to explain, in broken Swahili, why I wasn’t married and didn’t grow my own vegetables at home), joining in with some training sessions and helping to count the cash on repayment-days. Yes, I had a Masters in Development by this time but for real understanding of how microfinance works, the impact it can have and what it is like to live on less than $1/day yet take a loan to start a business – give me field experience any day.”

More Stories of Entrepreneurs and Volunteers

  • Veronica spent several years in an IDP (internally displaced people) camp and is now trying to re-build her life by setting up a small business.
  • Post-conflict microfinance
  • I had an interesting chat last week with a lady from Uganda who is trying to expand her microfinance programme into northern Uganda. It's an area devastated by 20 years of civil war. Most of the population suffered terrible trauma - children abducted to become child soldiers and forced to commit atrocities against their own villages, women and girls raped, people losing their homes, land and loved ones. Can microfinance work here? Full Story...

  • the long road to providing financial services in remote villages
  • Village Savings Groups – how to nurture financial services in the remotest corners
  • I recently visited the village of Nangarua in Beringo District, Kenya. The journey from Nakuru town to Nangarua took 4 hours, of which 2 hours was on tarmac roads and 2 hours very definitely wasn't. We were visiting with Anthony Mambo, recently appointed Microfinance Officer in Nakuru. His challenge is that he is one man with one old car and a district over 300 miles from side to side. Full Story...

  • Catherine MLF
  • Catherine
  • Ten years ago, Catherine was making a small living buying fish from local fishermen and selling them at a nearby market. Today she has saved enough money to build her own house, housing 18 members of her family. She pays for her grandchildren to go to school, and financially supports various other extended family members. Full Story...

  • Motorbike repair
  • Claire
  • Claire was a stockbroker in the City and gave up her job to travel by motorbike across Africa. Her motorbike maintenance skills were a huge help to Loan Officers at the MicroLoan Foundation. Full Story...