Municipal loans are a game-changer for marginalized groups

Loans, starting from 10 per cent of the municipalities’ internal revenues, are granted according to the established scale – four per cent to women, four per cent to young people and two per cent to the disabled.

According to 2012 statistics from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), 10% of Tanzanians, or 4.4 million, are disabled, of which 9.4% are women and 9.1% are men.

A large percentage of people with disabilities face life difficulties and mainly depend on others for their well-being, as they are believed to be unable to do work due to their disability.

So, after the government started remembering these vulnerable groups and giving them loans, many of them used the loan money well and lifted themselves out of poverty, some even able to educate their children until ‘at University.

Janety Limbe, a blind woman, resident of Kitangili area in Shinyanga Township, is among the recipients of the 2% municipal loans through their pig farming group.

She says that in 2019, through their pig farming group, they received a $2 million loan from the city council from which they bought two pigs and built pig barns.

She says: “The number of pigs has increased in number and last year we received another €3 million loan with which they bought 10 more pigs.

So far, she says, their group has 28 pigs with seven piglets and often they sell some of them and split the profits among themselves.

“Before I joined the disability group and received municipal loans, I lived a difficult life and did not bring up my children properly, especially in terms of their education,” says Limbe, noting, “But for the now i am not poor anymore like i used to be, because i have the ability to serve my six children including their education, one of them is studying a degree at Moshi Cooperative University (MoCU).

“We call on the government to continue providing these loans, but it should increase the loan amount based on our applications to meet our entrepreneurial commitments. For example, last year our group asked for 5 million/- but we only received 3 million/-, the amount that prevented us from carrying out our plans,” she says.

Neema Michael, one of the children from Limbes, now at Ibinzamata Secondary School in Shinyanga Township, says that in the past they lived a very difficult life as they could not get the school items. essentials, but she says now it’s different.

The other child, Ndiganya Michael, who is studying at MoCU, says the council loan has helped her achieve her dreams, where she never expected to be able to attend college due to her family’s economic hardship.

“I thank the government for providing these municipal loans and remembering the special groups, where I went to fulfill my dreams and come to help my parents and younger siblings to develop their education,” says Michael.

John Samuel is a disabled person. He is involved in the manufacture of leather shoes, where last year, together with his group, they received a loan worth 10 million dollars from the district council. The loan, says Samuel, has completely changed his life economically.

Samuel thanked the government for giving them loans – two of the 10% municipal loans for people with disabilities. “It completely changed the future of our lives and now we are no longer dependent, but managing our lives and serving our families,” he says.

Shinyanga municipality community development officer John Tesha said that between July and December last year, the council provided $175 million in interest-free loans to groups of women, youth and people with disabilities in the region.

Shinyanga District Commissioner Jasinta Mboneko urges youth, women and people with disabilities to continue to take advantage of the council’s 10% loan opportunities to earn a living.

The DC also demanded that when these groups receive loan funds from the council, they repay the loan on time, so other groups can borrow, while commending women and people with disabilities on the front lines for repaying loans to weather.

Shinyanga Regional Commissioner Sophia Mjema has urged people with disabilities to join entrepreneur groups so they can easily get loans as things have improved from the past.

“There is no need to reach as many people as before. If you qualify for a loan, I urge you to accept these types of loans that are for you,” the RC says, adding that disability groups get 2% of 10% of council loans.

“Be good ambassadors for your colleagues and educate them on how they managed to get a loan and become economically empowered,” adds Mjema.

Speaking at the height of the International Women’s Day celebrations, Deputy Minister of the Office of the President of Regional Administration and Local Government (PO-RALG), Dr Festo Dugange, stressed that the groups women, youth and people with disabilities should not neglect to take 10% of council loans to earn a living.

Dr. Dugange also instructed directors and development officers of all councils that loan funds should be given in large amounts to a few groups to meet their needs and economic growth, rather than given to a few groups and many people remain in poverty.

“I urge all council directors, these loans for women entrepreneurs, youth and people with disabilities, I want it to be more productive for them.

Chairman of the Tanzania Federation of Disabled People’s Organizations (SHIVYAWATA) in Sinyanga region, Richard Mpongo, said the 2% municipal loans have been a big help to people with disabilities to boost their economy.

“These loans have liberated us economically and stopped being dependent. We just ask that more entrepreneurship training continues to be provided to people with disabilities, so that they continue to join more groups and get loans “, says Mpongo.

For a long time, the cultural norm and prejudice towards women, young people and people with disabilities prevented them from having meaningful access to financial opportunities. These groups were neglected and even though they got loans, the process was very difficult, which prevented some of them from repaying the loan. Seed capital for women, young people and people with disabilities was first introduced by a 1993 parliamentary resolution which aimed to uplift groups of economically disadvantaged women and young people who did not have access to loans issued by financial institutions due to lack of collateral.

Under the Local Government Finances Act 1982, CAP 290, Section 37A was amended to require local councils to set aside 10% of their own sources of interest-free revenue for women’s empowerment loans , young people and people with disabilities. The loan was designed as a revolving fund to which local government authorities (LGAs) are expected to allocate 10 per cent of their own income (four per cent for women and youth groups each, while two per cent goes to people with disabilities. The idea was to empower these groups in carrying out money-making ventures to lift their own households out of poverty.

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