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Bridging Peace & Prosperity by creating success circles of empowered women entrepreneurs to accelerate gender parity in Tanzania, Africa.

Providing women opportunities to run businesses creates sustainable impacts for all by shifting economic and gender power structures.

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Explain your project idea (2,000 characters)

Our project idea focuses on bridging Peace & Prosperity by creating success circles of empowered women entrepreneurs in the Singida Region of Tanzania, Africa. Our project defines success circles as a group of ten women entrepreneurs who receive individual micro loans, yet collaborate and meet monthly to provide support to each other. This micro loan program is setup differently than many micro loan services. In order to receive a micro loan, women have to form the success circle first and agree to run their separate businesses and support each other over a three-year lending period. The strength of the relationships formed in the circles is the backbone of the initiative. Since the beginning of this program in 2008, the circles have paid back 100% of their loans impacting nearly 2,000 women. We feel the urgency to grow this program to provide gender parity and economic stability in this region of Tanzania. Goal of project: Provide at least 200 more women opportunities to run businesses across the Singida Region of Tanzania and create sustainable impacts for women and children by shifting economic and gender power structures. This goal will impact not only the women being directly served, but their families, communities and region. Objectives: 1. Create and foster 20 more success circles in villages throughout the Singida Region of Tanzania throughout a 24-30 month time frame. 2. Shift current power structures and change the narrative for women living in the Singida Region of Tanzania to be seen as equals and leaders. 3. Provide coaching and support so women can start and run successful and sustainable businesses which will alleviate poverty, provide more jobs for other community members and improve the regional and national economy. 4. Collaborate with other organizations who provide tools and resources to empower women. 5. Increase access to education, food/nutrition and medical treatments to women and children in the villages.

Who are the beneficiaries? (1,000 characters)

Our direct beneficiaries are women and their families who live in the Singida Region of Tanzania, Africa. As women become entrepreneurs within our program, the communities and people who live in these villages also become beneficiaries due to improved resources and economic prosperity. We have also started to see a shift in power dynamics in the villages as women in this program are viewed as leaders and we predict to see a more just system for girls and women as we grow this program.

How is your idea unique? (1,000 characters)

What makes our idea unique is the collaborative method we utilize called success circles of women. To help empower women to become successful and sustainable entrepreneurs, each woman needs to join a circle of ten women. The circle of ten is made-up of a diverse group of women who meet at least monthly over a span of 3 years to provide support, ideas, hope, and education. Each woman in the group receives an individual microloan to run her own business(es) and also receives coaching & support. Women are marginalized and face educational, cultural and financial challenges that make it difficult to fully participate in and contribute to their communities. By focusing on women, our idea commits to serving and empowering women facing these challenging conditions. Women have the right to access capital. All around the world, but especially in developing nations, money and leadership is concentrated in the hands of males, so our approach addresses the need to shift that power dynamic.

Idea Proposal Stage (choose one)

  • Majority Adoption: I have expanded the pilot significantly and the program product or service has been adopted by the majority of our intended user base.

Tell us more about your organization/company (1 sentence and website URL)

World Encounter, a St. Paul based NGO, provides microloans, coaching and support to women entrepreneurs in Tanzania, Africa.

Expertise in sector

  • 7+ years

Organization Filing Status

  • Yes, we are a registered non-profit.

In 3-4 sentences, tell us the inspiration or story that encouraged you to start this project.

More than 70% of Tanzanians live on less than $2.00 and globally, women face gender inequality. We believe we can bridge peace and prosperity by working together to share knowledge and resources to empower women, alleviate poverty, and further economic growth. Data from the World Bank shows that women create change by investing 90% of their business profits back into their family and their communities. These facts inspired us to start our success circles and micro loan program.

Please explain how your selected topic areas are influenced, in the local context of your project (1,000 characters).

Our idea of expanding women entrepreneur success circles across the Singida Region of Tanzania will bridge Peace and Prosperity. Peace is influenced by: 1. The local and national economy 2. Social justice 3. Gender parity 4. Family structures 5. Political climate Prosperity is influenced by 1. Lack of education, resources and jobs to women in rural areas of Tanzania 2. Lack of access to capital in rural areas of Tanzania 3. Gender inequality 4. Cycle of poverty in rural areas of Tanzania 5. Young marriage ages and high rates of child birth within young marriages By providing women access to capital, support from other women, coaching and resources in the Singida Region of Tanzania, we can change the current structures that influence peace and prosperity. By creating an environment that promotes gender parity and empowers women to be leaders, women will have a greater voice in making decisions for herself, family, community and nation.

Who will work alongside your organization in the project idea? (1,000 characters)

Our organization works closely in Tanzania with women in the program, village leaders, religious organizations, and community members. We have a village coordinator in Nkungi, Tanzania, an Operations Director in Arusha, Tanzania. We also collaborate with other NGOs and groups within the country. In the US, we work closely with a board, benchmark other organizations and work with consultants to implement improvements within our organization. We recently partnered with a MN based business, Hero Plumbing, Heating and Cooling that launched our organizational need to grow our program in Tanzania. In November, we conducted interviews with current and past participants, village leaders and community members. Through the collection of data and stories, we discovered there's a waiting list of over 200 women to join the program. As we grow, we will continue to retain and seek new partnerships to impact greater, evaluate programs and improve our systems in the communities we serve.

Please share some of the top strengths identified in the community which your project will serve (500 characters)

The top five strengths we have identified are: 1. The size of organization allows us to build strong and positive relationships with our participants. 2. We have full support from the village leaders/governments. 3. We are inclusive and diverse ensuring all women equal access to our program. 4. Our participants have paid back 100% of their loans. 5. Our recent needs assessment shows expansion is necessary, and our community already has a 200-person waiting list for the program.

Geographic Focus

We focus in the Singida Region of Tanzania, Africa. We have an office in St. Paul, MN, USA.

How many months are required for the project idea? (500 characters)

We would anticipate a 24-30 month project timeline. - 1-6 months: expand Tanzanian and US staff and volunteers to implement project (search, hire and onboard), identify new partners for collaboration, and communicate project growth internally and externally - 6-12 months: create 20+ new success circles (10 women per circle = 200 women) - 12-18 months: mid-project evaluations, community needs assessment - 18-30 months: end of year evaluations on the new group of success circles

Did you submit this idea to our 2017 BridgeBuilder Challenge? (Y/N)

  • No


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