A group of Maasai women told members of Focus on Tanzanian Communities (FoTZC), Thomson’s partner philanthropic organization, that the Community Conservation Banking (COCOBA) initiative has helped them feed their families, send their children to school and lead more independent lives.
COCOBA is a microfinance program that helps Maasai women open small, environmentally friendly businesses, like beading, bee-keeping and leather tanning. Earning a living in Tanzania’s remote regions can be incredibly difficult, especially for Maasai women who are often raised in a patriarchal culture.
Hundreds of women have started their own businesses with COCOBA. Here’s how six said it has changed their lives.
I’m proud that I can now buy school uniforms for my children and food for my family. Before COCOBA, I didn’t know how to do any business.
Women can now help support their children by paying for school fees, school uniforms and helping support their families in other ways. Women now have more independence and do not have to rely on men for everything.
Without COCOBA money, my daughter would not have been able to attend secondary school. Bee-keeping is usually a masculine task, but COCOBA is helping teach a lot of women about the craft.
Women are moving forward because of COCOBA.
Women are learning business, including the buying and selling of corn. The women now feel empowered to conduct business on their own, without having to wait for a man’s permission or guidance.
I’m thankful that my family can now eat a variety of foods. They used to eat just corn, but I can now provide three meals a day for my family: tea and cake for breakfast, rice and beans for lunch, and ugali and spinach for dinner.
This progress for COCOBA’s women wouldn’t be possible without access to clean water. Now that water is more easily available, women have more time to focus on their businesses, and their daughters can spend time at school instead of trekking for hours to a water source.
Increasing access to clean water remains one of FoTZC’s most important initiatives, and large and small donations to well drilling projects make it all possible.