Using land on loan
shindi Mayenga, a hairdresser in the Tanzanian capital of Dodoma, had a vision to expand her business. She wanted to transform her small salon from a dilapidated rented room into a larger, “main street” enterprise, but every time she applied for a bank loan, her request was turned down.
She did not own her home or any land, and had no assets to serve as collateral for the loan.
“I was asked to present valuable assets to support my application, but I did not have any,” she said.
After a long struggle, the 31-year-old entrepreneur from a bustling Dar es Salaam suburb managed to secure a piece of land on loan, which in turn helped her to access the finance she needed.
Mayenga is one of thousands of lowincome female entrepreneurs in Tanzania who have acquired registered land on loan, which they can use as security to seek finance to grow their businesses.
As part of its broader policy to empower women, the Tanzania Women’s Bank (TWB) has started lending registered plots of land to female entrepreneurs as a way to lift them out of poverty.
“I am very happy to buy a plot of land through this arrangement, and my loan was approved within days,” said Mayenga.
“I have already started building my house in Kigamboni, where my new plot is located, and I hope to use my land title to borrow 10 million Tanzanian shillings (R71 600) to expand my businesses.”
Although Tanzanian law grants women the same rights as men to access, own and control land, and allows them to participate in decision making on land matters, only 20% of women own land in their own names, according to USAid.
The TWB, in conjunction with Ardhi Plan – a property company – is hoping to improve prospects for female entrepreneurs by lending them low-cost land.
Campaigners have praised the initiative as a model for empowering female entrepreneurs, not just in Tanzania but throughout east Africa.
In Uganda, a similar project was launched by the Development Finance Company of Uganda in 2007 to help women obtain loans to purchase property to use as collateral.
BORN FOR BUSINESS low-cost land
The Tanzania Women’s Bank is improving the lives of female entrepreneurs by lending them