Project empowers over 700 SMEs in Iringa with key business skills

02Jan 2020
Friday Simbaya
The Guardian
Project empowers over 700 SMEs in Iringa with key business skills

MORE than 700 small and medium scale entrepreneurs (SMEs) in Iringa and Njombe regions have benefited with training on how best to conduct their business and be able to access markets.

Njombe-based entrepreneur, Lucy Kitavile on her tractor she has been supported by TLED project through machine subsidies. Photo: Correspondent Friday Simbaya.

The training provided by Tanzania Local Enterprise Development (T-LED)—a Canadian funded project through VSO Tanzania in partnership with Cuso International. Implemented for five years from 2015 to 2020, the project covered five regions namely, Mtwara, Lindi, Mwanza, Njombe and Iringa. Apart from sharpening entrepreneurs’ business skills, the organization also provides SMEs with machine subsidies, and links them with financial institutions. T-LED project manager for Iringa and Njombe regions, Stella Mdahila said the business operators were equipped with skills and knowledge to enable them keep financial records, networking, marketing and assisting them to secure loans from banks and financial institutions. “We focus on finding solutions to challenges facing female entrepreneurs; we want them to access growing markets in the extractive and agribusinesses sectors. Almost 60 percent of the SMEs we support are headed by women”, she said. An entrepreneur, Loyce Polla, said through the trainings she has been able to improve her poultry farming project. A 63-year-old woman who and retired primary school teacher from Mjimwema Ward in Njombe town said: “My life changed after I was linked to T-LED and where I received a number of trainings as well as being linked to markets. In my farm, I have over 100 local chickens, but the number expected to increase since I have the support from T-LED and Small Industries Development Organization (SIDO)”. Stella also keeps hybrid chickens where she collects six trays of eggs daily although the market is not good due to the fact that many people are engaging in the particular business. She commended the organization for providing her with an incubator machine worth 3.5m/- for hatching eggs where she pays 40 percent of the cost and T-LED covers the remaining 60 percent. She said with an incubator she can hatch over 1,000 eggs, and sells a single chick at 1,500/-. Another beneficiary of the project, Lucy Kitavile who produces fortified maize flour said the organization has supported her with a milling machine with a capacity to process up to 7 tonnes of maize every day. “I have moved to Songea to Njombe where I am now selling fortified maize floor brabded—‘Mama Seki’. I getting various support from T-LED including transport to fetch raw materials and taking finished products to the markets”, said Kitavile adding to still have difficulties to access markets in other regions. The organization also provides tractor under the subsidy scheme to enhance production of maize. Frank Msigwa who engaged in horticulture business in Njombe region, said he started cultivating avocado in 2006, but after being linked with T-LED he has grown the business and secure markets abroad. Msigwa said he is now selling avocados in South Africa, Rwanda, Nigeria, Uganda and Kenya. He said that the quality avocados he produces are cultivated through organic farming where no chemical fertilizers are added to the soil. A local wine producer, Theodory Mlowe said: “I am grateful to the organization for providing me with machines. I have been linked to financial institutions as well as markets within and outside the region”.