True story from the Umoja ni Nguvu RC savings group in Nyarugusu Refugee Camp
Ten years have passed since this Congolese man sitting alongside me in a church in the Nyaragusu refugee camp settled his life here. However, this was far from the time he has spent in refugee communities. Almost nineteen years ago, the outbreak of the civil war in the Democratic Republic of Congo forced Joseph and his family to flee to Tanzania, a country that is 1476 kilometers away from home. Back then, he was only eleven years old, when he was supposed to continue studying in primary school and live a childhood without fear.
Stories from the Kaze Mwendo savings group in the Nduta Refugee Camp
When visiting a group of refugees in the Nduta camp, I tend to experience some mixed feeling of embarrassment, curiosity and hesitation at the beginning. A thin soap-bubble barrier through which someone has to poke a finger. With a timid smile, I say: "MWAKEYE!" (Good morning in Kirundi) and I look around, trying to read in my interlocutors' eyes if I have said it right. "MWAKEYE!", they respond, laughing and looking at each other with complicity. I feel that now we are together.
Nyarugusu Refugee Camp
One year and a half ago, Stephanie didn't know Lea, and neither of them knew Simeon, nor Enrique, nor Celine. They were living their lives day-by-day, with their own loopholes and coping mechanisms, until they were brought together during a UNCDF-organized training with GNTZ (our field-based partner) on savings groups in a UNHCR multipurpose training centre. This center was established as part of the Kigoma Joint Programme's Youth and Women Economic Empowerment (YWEE) initiative. They were taught about life skills, entrepreneurship, budgeting, savings and record-keeping. This is where, Stephanie tells us, she and the other 19 refugees met and started their own savings group and decided to try to become entrepreneurs together.
Savings Groups promoted by UNCDF partner Good Neighbors Tanzania thrive in Kigoma
Now my family listens to me,” said Ekyoci, a 34year-old Congolese woman. “Every time when I have suggestions, like when to rebuild the house and how to spend our money, my husband listens to me. It was not the same in the past.” But Ekyoci has benefited recently from membership in a savings group promoted by UNCDF partner Good Neighbors Tanzania (GNTZ) and since she began, things have changed for the better for her and her household.
UNCDF Tanzania's own Paul Damocha (correct spelling) and Adriano Tidah were featured on radio and television stations country-wide on World Savings Day, 2018. Paul Damocha spoke on the important of savings to Star TV viewers, while Adriano was interviewed by five different radio stations. UNCDF's Kuweka Akiba ni Upendo video series was featured nationwide as well.
Highlighting UNCDF's work to promote savings, strengthen financial inclusion mechanisms for refugees and smallholder farmers, and build financial and digital literacy, Paul and Adriano brought forth the message that savings is key to reaching goals and dreams - for ALL Tanzanians.
World Savings Day is a yearly event sponsored by WSBI to increase the public's awareness of the importance of savings both for modern economies and for individuals alike.
Follow the link below to watch the video or listen to the radio interview.
Steven Kilele, Khangarue Media Ltd.
Packed in a small video banda in Kigoma, Ezera was watching a movie during a free screening when suddenly the movie cut and an ad on saving popped up. “I used to save by putting money in a kibubu, but after watching that video I will consider using a VICOBA,” she says. Such was the goal of our financial literacy project in Kigoma – to encourage the adoption of positive, and more diverse, financial behaviours in Kigoma Region.
Today is World Refugee Day, an occasion commemorating the strength, courage, and perseverance of millions of people forced from home. A neighbor to countries where civil strife and ethnic conflicts have endangered many, the United Republic of Tanzania hosts more than 315,000 refugees from Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Burundi, with Nyarugusu Camp, the world’s third largest refugee camp, hosting over 70,000 Burundians alone.
When they first started saving their money, the 20 members of Tushirikiane Savings Group never imagined they would one day be operating a successful restaurant inside of a refugee camp. However, after only three months of actively participating in the savings group, these Burundian refugees were able to make a huge stride towards economic self-reliance by opening their own restaurant.
From November 6-10, 2017, UNCDF completed its first activity in the pilot project to strengthen savings groups and promote digital financial literacy for refugees in Tanzania. The five-day workshop took place in Kasulu, Kigoma Region, and included 26 participants from 13 stakeholder organizations. CARE Tanzania was the lead organizer, with Silvester Kobare, a Training Consultant from Micro Enterprise and Financial Inclusion (MEFI) Associates, serving as lead designer and trainer.
UNCDF in Tanzania
In Tanzania, UNCDF's Financial Inclusion Practice Area (FIPA) team works to advance access to finance, strengthen savings, and improve financial capability in the Kigoma Region. Our target groups are small farmers, refugees and surrounding host communities, and our focus is women and youth.