Christian Ishengoma is a manager at TUBEAMOI SACCO, a community-based Savings and Credit Co-Operative in Mwanza, Tanzania that works cheek to jowl with the members of the Taka ni Mali Community Based Organisations (CBOs). These are heterogeneous groups made up of members from the same geographic area who are involved in the collection of waste from households to collection points within their community.
“We started TUBEAMOI in 2001,“ says Christian, “after people in the community came together so that we could improve our lives by working together. Over the years more people in the community joined and we expanded,“ says Christian with a proud smile.
Evidently a believer in growth and expansion, Christian adds, “in 2015, we registered TUBEAMOI as a Savings and Credit Co-operative (SACCO). Since TUBEAMOI SACCO started, it has helped lift up the lives of many people both in the community and outside of it. We’ve helped small traders, small businesses as well as small entrepreneurs. A SACCO is important“, explains Christian, “because not only does it raise the living standards of its members, it also helps build the economy. It gives me great joy to see people now able to pay school fees for their children, live in better houses, and lead healthier lives. They’re happier and I’m content, all because we are members of the SACCO.“
Speaking of members of the TUBEAMOI SACCO, what does Christian have to say about Taka ni Mali?
“The Taka ni Mali concept is great. It involves the formation of Community-Based Organisations (CBOs) that keep the municipality clean. There are two Taka ni Mali CBOs registered with TUBEAMOI SACCO, one has 50 members and the other has 60, so in total, we have 110 Taka ni Mali members in the SACCO. “
“Who knew that all this waste could be an asset, that you could earn a living from it, that it could be recycled to generate a good income“, says Christian,
“we didn’t. And we would never have known if it wasn’t for the Taka ni Mali initiative. The connection we have is very important because when you make money, it’s important to use it wisely and to save a portion. That’s where the SACCO comes in.“
By offering financial education, as well as offering savings and loan facilities, TUBEAMOI SACCO has assisted its Taka ni Mali members to improve their lives.
“We have educated the Taka ni Mali CBO members on how to keep financial records“, says Christian. “We have hosted a series of sessions and taught them the importance of saving and to that end, we ensure that each member saves at least CHF 4.5 each month. And we always say to them:
“no matter how little the money, if you save it becomes more and the more you save the more you can borrow”
They can use loans then to expand their businesses and better their lives.“
But the benefits of the association between TUBEAMOI and Taka ni Mali are not one-sided.
“Thanks to the Taka ni Mali CBOs joining our SACCO, we’ve increased our membership which has added to our member contributions. More savings enables us to give bigger loans to many more members of the SACCO, and that’s a good thing. And let’s not forget, by increasing the CBO member access to finance, they are able to fully equip themselves to carry out their duty of keeping our area clean. This benefits the whole community as living in a clean environment is ideal for everyone. “
“I’ve also learnt a lot from the Taka ni Mali project“, admits Christian. “When Swisscontact initially approached us, they also educated us on the project benefits like recycling, conserving the environment by reducing pollution, reducing health risks associated with inefficient waste management. It was an eye-opener, and all this while creating employment opportunities in the community. “
Casting his eye into the future, Christian Ishengoma is optimistic.
“The Taka ni Mali initiative is a grand idea. In the beginning, the CBOs used to carry waste on their heads, they didn’t have protective gear like gumboots, masks and overalls. Now all the CBO members have the attire needed for this kind of work, and they also have handcarts and wheelbarrows to help ferry larger loads. Plans are already underway to buy toyo autocycles. These will help increase their solid waste collection and management capacity. “
“I see a bright future ahead“, says Christian. “What we have started here will continue for a very long time as the Taka ni Mali initiative has changed our community’s culture and the way we handle our waste. TUBEAMOI’s role still remains to provide financial education and increase access to finance for the waste collectors and CBOs in general.“
Taka ni Mali is an urban climate-smart project that purposed to develop economic opportunities in the solid waste collection and recycling sub-sector while reducing environmental degradation and health risks through the creation of efficient and sustainable Solid Waste Management (SWM) systems. The first phase was implemented between 2013 and 2016 in Morogoro Municipality, Tanzania and was funded by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) and the Puma Energy Foundation. Because of its success, the initiative was extended to Mwanza in a second phase funded by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) and the Republic and Canton of Geneva (2017 -2018).