Genoveva Kiliba, better known as Dage, is an intriguing woman. With a never-ending supply of energy, optimism and determination she has managed to build a successful business empire employing over fifty people. She owns a wedding parlour, a car hiring service, a tailoring business, a catering business, a cleaning business, a gym and also finds the time to teach cosmetology classes. Who could have guessed that this successful woman started out selling little fish (Daga) from Kigoma out of a suitcase? Read more here to find out how Genoveva managed to build up her range of businesses as well as what her plans for the future are!


Mary Mbeyela is an innovative woman who will likely make a tremendous impact on the energy use of Tanzanians today. She has namely discovered a sustainable, environmentally friendly, energy-source that could potentially put an end to the deforestation of Northern Tanzania. Together with a team of experts, she has fabricated what she calls a ‘coal briquette’, made predominantly out of coal dust. Read here about how these coal briquettes could change the way in which Tanzanians use their energy.


Theresia Kessy started her small tailoring business in 1993. She specialized in making batik and tie-dye clothes and owned two sewing machines. Four years later she heard from a friend that she could apply for a loan from a company named SELFINA. She approached Dr. Victoria Kisyombe, and after a quick review of her business she was granted a lease of a butterfly sewing machine.

A year later, after Mama Kessy had repaid her lease she applied for another loan. Due to her punctuality in repaying the first lease and her goodwill, she was granted a working capital loan of TZS 300,000. She used this capital to buy new materials for making the batik and the dyes. Since this time, Mama Kessy has received numerous loans for her business, and has expanded her business significantly.

She stated that the help provided by SELFINA made a huge difference for her. Not only was the working capital an enormous help, but also the seminars that were organized that helped her develop entrepreneurial skills and aided her in finding ways to expand to new markets.

The issue of finding markets was highlighted by Mama Kessy as being a particularly problematic one. In the first years she was one of the few women that created batiks and tie-dye, but nowadays there are many competitors in the market. This has made her try to venture into new markets, as now, for example, she also sews school uniforms for the schools in the area. Her assertive attitude has proved to being key. She took the initiative and spread around flyers of her business, allowing her to receive her first bulk order of 150 dresses and a number of shirts from a nearby school.

With such an entrepreneurial attitude we are sure that Theresia Kessey will be able to continue the development of her business. She has already diversified, as she now also owns a restaurant together with her husband.  Her future aspiration, however, is to break out of the local market and be able to sell her clothing, batiks and tie-dyes internationally.

Her advice to other women hoping to build up their business is as follows: firstly, it is very important that you use your working capital solely for your business. If you use the money for other purposes, it will be very difficult for you to grow your business, and therefore also difficult to repay the loan. Secondly, she advises to avoid losing customers to the competition by guaranteeing quality products in a timely manner. Customer care is crucial, as it makes it more likely that customers will return to place new orders.


Magesa Munna is a four-time borrower from SELFINA’s Kibaha branch.  She initially used her loans to purchase chicks, which she used for a poultry business.  However, Magesa noticed that many retired officers were taking up poultry keeping and consequently chose to enter a less competitive industry: wine making.  SELFINA helped to provide her with raw materials such as grapes and bananas, processing machines, as well as exhibitions to market her product.  Her company, Jambo Wine, has grown from a micro-enterprise to a small industry and has been featured at international trade fairs in Nairobi.

Additionally, Magesa is now considered bankable by formal banks and recently took out a loan from CRDB to purchase modern processing and packaging machines.  She is hoping that this increased productivity will allow her to hire more workers.  She also cited the importance of packaging, pricing, and branding, especially in the increasingly open and competitive East African market.  Consequently, Magesa employs exhibitions, brochures, mouth-to-mouth, and personal visits to promote the Jambo Wine brand.  As a result of her hard work, her wine is sold in supermarkets and hotels in Dar es Salaam, Arusha, Moshi, and Morogoro.

Due to her increased revenue, she has been able to improve her home.  Since the loss of her husband, she has also been able to pay for school fees for her six children, the youngest of which just graduated from the University of Dar es Salaam and was hired as an investment officer at Bank of Africa.  Furthermore, Magesa organized a group of 40 women entrepreneurs who meet monthly to exchange best business practices.  When asked how microfinance served entrepreneurs, Magesa responded, “Money is everything.  It can help you do better and better.  But if no money, your business cannot grow.  It will be the same today and tomorrow.  If you’re lucky, you won’t go bankrupt.”


Neema Muyenjwa Kipeja owns the Unique Nursery and Primary School in the Temeke District of Dar es Salaam. According to Neema, the Unique Nursery and Primary School “is designed to build pupils’ basic capacity to respond to future educational needs domestically and internationally. The school syllabus prepares the pupils to tackle both linguistic and numerical problems through coaching and guidance by internationally acceptable teaching staff.” Ultimately, Neema used three consecutive SELFINA loans to construct the school, build desks, and add the finishing touches to the school building.

The school has been an incredible success. In 2006, the school only had six students but by 2011 the school hosted over 150 students. The school was also able to hire eleven teachers and nine non-teaching staff, creating 20 new jobs in total. or women entrepreneurs, improve employment indicators, and support social missions, such as advancing high-quality education services in Tanzania. Neema’s success story is just one example of how SELFINA loans can create a sustainable income. For a more detailed description of Neema Muyenjwa’s successes, including many pictures of the Unique Nursery and Primary school, click here.


Saidat Ramadhani is from Mlandizi, and is specialized in the purchasing and grinding of corn into flour. She subsequently packages the flour into bags and sells it. In 2012, she leased a 10-tonne truck the transportation of the corn to different parts of the country and selling her packaged flour. Initially, her business consisted of a small market stall where she sold fish and corn flour. Nowadays, she is a successful and determined businesswoman that travels throughout the country to sell her corn flour, as well as owning her own corn flour shop.


Joyce Mbwette is the Managing Director of Footloose Tanzania Ltd. Footloose Ltd is handcraft trading company that purchases, produces, packages, and sells handicrafts made by small scale producers located in six regions of Tanzania. Footloose sells the bulk of their products overseas, with the approximately 75% of their sales being in Europe and the United States. The remaining 25% of their sales are in the local market. Established in 1999, the company has grown from an annual income of 50 million TSh in 2002 and 992 million TSh in 2008. The rapid growth of Footloose can largely be attributed to the increasing demand for African handcrafts, as well as the company’s own proactive stance in the marketing and promotion of their products. Both the AGOA and EBA have provided Footloose with opportunities to increase their sales in the US and Europe respectively. With the aid of SELFINA, however, Footloose was able to access working capital loans as well as leasing an industrial wood-cutting and refining machine in order to achieve new levels of professionalism. For a more detailed description of Joyce Mbwette’s successes click here.


Betty Matarimo is the founder and owner of BEMA Authentic Fashion and Design, formerly Matarimo Design and Fashion. BEMA is a company that deals with all types of clothes design ranging from clothes for men, women as well as children. She specializes in making clothes using cloth of African origin such as the Kitenge and Bazee. She has been able to distinguish herself from other Tanzanian tailors and designers by always providing unique, high-quality clothes that keep customers coming back for more. To learn more about how this former Tanzania-Zambia Railway Authority employee managed to establish herself as a prosperous clothing designer in Dar es Salaam by clicking here.


Antuser Lema is a 42-year-old woman who is happily married with three children. Professionally she is a primary school teacher, and has been teaching since 1996. Next to being a teacher, she also managed to open a retail shop at Kunduschi Mtongani in 1997. However, during this time, it was difficult to sustain the shop as there was barely enough money to keep it running. In those days, her husband helped her financially, as well as the small amount of money she received from her job as a teacher.

The following year, a friend visited her at her shop and introduced the idea of asking for a loan from a non-governmental organization that solely provides loans to women. This NGO was SELFINA. She acted on her friend’s advice and met Fausta Lema and Dr. Kisyombe. After discussing the situation, SELFINA extended a loan of Tshs 200,000 to help extend her business. After six months, Anthuser Lema was able to completely repay her loan, and SELFINA opted to extend her another loan.

By 2009, Antuser Lema wanted able to open a daycare centre, which she called the Trez Hota Daycare Centre. SELFINA provided another financial loan, this time of Tshs 6 million, and she was able to fulfil her dream of opening the centre. She is currently aspiring to invest in a schoolbus, as well as new toys for her pupils.

As a result of the aid of SELFINA, Antuser Lema was able to provide good educations for her children as well as create eleven new jobs in her school. She was also able to diversify, as she now also has a business of raising and selling poultry. To read more about Mama Lema’s struggles to achieve her dream of opening the day care centre, click here.


Agnes Arley is a woman from Dar es Salaam, and is a secretary by profession. She approached SELFINA in the hopes of leasing several photocopiers, including a heavy duty machine and a computer. With the help of the micro-lease provided by SELFINA she was able to establish a standard secretarial service centre. This has provided her with a stable job and income, following her abrupt dismissal from the Tanzania Audit Corporation where she had worked for a number of years. This secretarial facility also allowed her to create employment opportunities for her children, as well as other members of her family. She is now providing professional services to numerous companies and schools in the area.


Alphoncina Massawe started her small tailoring business in 2006 with a small amount of capital and a few sewing machines. In addition to tailoring, she engaged herself in the printing of batiks for a period of three years. In 2010, Alphoncina met a woman named Stella who explained to her what the benefits of obtaining a business loan were, and how she could use such a loan to improve her business. Following this discussion, Alphoncina took action and approached SELFINA. There, she received business training to improve her entrepreneurial skill and was given a business loan. She used this loan to purchase more modern sewing machines. Her loan from SELFINA ultimately enabled her to start a new business, namely one of selling drinking water as a wholesale business. She also managed to officially register her company under the name of Katonda Abeela Traders Company. With the help of SELFINA, Alphoncina was successfully able to grow her businesses. Yet despite all of the successes, there are still number of challenges that face Alphoncina in her business life. One of the most prominent challenges she faces is the lack of faithful employees to engage in her business. Alphoncina is grateful to SELFINA for all the help provided and sincerely hopes that they will continue providing business training and further financial support with simple terms (particularly for long-term clients).


Renalda Lema is a prosperous businesswoman and is currently exectutive director of a company named Qualicloth Ltd. She has been operating her business since 1992, and has quickly grown into one of the most popular embroidery shops in the city. Qualicloth produces high-quality products, and through encouraging innovation among both staff and clients are able to set fashion trends both locally and internationally. They are ecologically-friendly and are proud to say that they are the most popular shop when it comes to handwoven materials, batik, tie-dye and embroidery in Dar es Salaam. But they are quick to add that they are still not satisfied! To read more on Renalda Lema and her successful business ventures click here.


Paulina Kapalasula is a retired officer of the Research Division of the Ministry of Agriculture. Her research focused on how maize, sorghum, and millet could influence the Tanzanian economy. When her contract ran out, she and her husband, also a retired researcher with the Ministry of Agriculture, decided to use their expertise and open a part-time farming business keeping poultry and cows.

In order to set up this business, she received several loans from SELFINA to buy chicks. Her initial loan was TZS 26,000 which eventually grew to TZS 3 million as her business continued to grow. The prosperity of her company severely increased her income, and the couple was able to pay the school fees of all of her four children. They were subsequently also able to pay for hospital care when Mr. Kapalasula fell ill two years ago. Lastly, they were able to double the size of their home.

Despite her obvious successes, there are still numerous problems faced by Paulina Kapalasula each day. These problems include: lack of transportation, unstable market prices, and the high price of chicken feed. She is now looking to purchase modern packaging machines, which would allow her to package chickens for export. “The purchasing power of people is low here,” said Paulina. “It is difficult to succeed on a small scale, so I need processing and marketing capacity to enter new markets.”


Shisongoya Kitutu is a 49-year-old woman that is happily married with three children. She has always been strong, energetic and extremely enthusiastic about farming activities. She enjoys gendering and poultry keeping as well as small-scale dairy farming under zero grazing.

Her dream was to improve and extend her farming activities in order to increase the household income of the family. However, during the 1990s, there were very few credit facilities in Tanzania and particularly as a woman it was very difficult to obtain a loan. In 1999, she visited SELFINA and applied for a loan. After a short review, such a loan was granted and Shisongoya Kitutu was able to extend her business.

As a result of the SELFINA loan Shisongoya Kitutu proudly declares that there have been dramatic improvements in terms of her household income. Her children were able to receive good educations, as well as attend various universities. She is also able to support her parents in Kilimanjaro as they are at an age where they are no longer able to work. She was able to make some large purchases such as a Suzuki motor vehicle and a one-grade Heifer to improve the milk production of the zero-grazing system. She has also been able to provide Agro Veterinarian facilities that offer services to all the farmers in the Mlandizi township. She was also able to improve her small-scale pig production.

Through hard-work and financial aid from SELFINA, Shisongoya Kitutu was able to provide for her family as well as operate numerous prosperous businesses.