Founded in 2002, SELFINA has taken a lead role as a pioneer of micro-credit in Tanzania through micro-leasing with particular attention to widows and young girls. Customs and traditions in this African nation normally make it difficult for women to own land and assets, resulting in many women being considered not credit worthy by financial institutions in the country as they lack tangible collateral assets. In the past 11 years SELFINA has economically empowered more than 25,000 women with a total credit worth 25 billion Tanzanian Shillings [approximately $16 million US dollars]. Over 200,000 lives have been impacted through the benefits accrued. Women are now owners of their own businesses and more than 125,000 jobs have been created.Founded by Dr. Victoria Kisyombe, who was widowed but made good use of Sero, a cow left behind by her late husband as a productive asset to generate income. From this experience and also as an inspiration to fellow women, she went on to create Sero Lease and Finance Ltd (SELFINA).
SELFINA’s mission is to increase the incomes and employment of women who own micro enterprises in Tanzania, by helping them and their businesses grow, develop and reach long term sustainability as described below:
- To be a major provider of micro financing to Tanzanian women all over the country
- To empower women economically by supporting their efforts in enterprise development as financial intermediary.
- To develop women’s capacity capability to assertively and completely participate in business
- To achieve operating levels that will ensure sustainability and expansion to cover all regions of Tanzania
- To be a credible and reliable micro finance institution[MFI] partner to banks and other financial institutions.
SELFINA is proud to have facilitated the growth of the beneficiaries as businesswomen through sharing best practices with other women and other organizations inside and outside the country. In doing so we are making a significant contribution to poverty alleviation initiatives in Tanzania where the GDP per capita is US$ 474.
The staff of SELFINA led by Dr. Victoria Kisyombe, is composed of a nationwide staff who supports the SELFINA mission daily. In doing so, they are creating a generation of self-employment and job creation. Sero Lease and Finance Limited [SELFINA] was incorporated in April 2002 as indigenous MFI to assist women to build a solid economic base for themselves and for their families as a practical way to achieve economic and social inclusion of women in daily life.
Who we are:
Dr Victoria Kisyombe, Founder & CEO
Victoria Kisyombe is a leader who has used innovation, initiative, and determination to empower women in Tanzania to become economically self-sufficient, focusing especially on women who are heading families after being widowed by the rapidly spreading scourge of HIV/AIDS. Given women’s lack of collateral and resulting lack of access to capital, Victoria also began piloting micro-leasing as a solution. She changed the criteria of eligibility to enable women with no assets and little business experience to engage in commercial activities to support themselves and their families. The ability to generate cash flow, rather than collateral, became the factor that determined whether an applicant would be considered. Sero Lease and Finance Ltd (SELFINA) was formally registered in 2002 and has developed into a sustainable, for-profit operation providing micro-leasing to thousands of women clients in Tanzania. Victoria’s successful micro-leasing model has generated praise beyond Tanzania, and efforts are under way to expand the model to other countries in the region. Victoria has been a true innovator and pioneer in an important area, helping improve the livelihoods of thousands of impoverished women in her country, truly making a world of difference.
Victoria Kisyombe was profiled by the World Bank in 2007 – Doing Business in Africa; she is an alumnus of Vital Voices. She is one of the winners of the 2009 TIAW World of Difference 100 Awards. TIAW (The International Alliance for Women) recognizes women whose efforts have advanced the economic empowerment of women locally, regionally or worldwide.
Victoria was recently recognized as Winner of the Africa Social Entrepreneur of 2010 by the World Economic Forum/Schwab Foundation and has become a Schwab Fellow and a Member of the World Economic Forum.
In 2011, as the country was marking 50 years of independence, Victoria Kisyombe received an award of “Women of determination 2011″ in recognition of her support on development of SMEs in Tanzania.
Victoria Kisyombe is a Pioneer Member of the World Entrepreneurship Forum based in Lyon, France. She is also an Associate Member of Women Global Banking Alliance which is based in USA.
Other duties include: A member of the Diocesan Council of Eastern and Coastal, ELCT; Member of United Evangelical Mission Council (Germany), Chairperson of UEM’s Foundation Board (Germany), Chairperson of UEM’s Investment Trust; Tumaini Makumira Univeristy Council, Member of Christian Council’s Policy and Finance Committee.