To reiterate, the objective of this field visit was to (1) see the state of young mothers’ businesses, (2) provide coaching to help young mothers generate increased profit, and (3) understand the current life condition of young mothers in business. All four young mothers visited today are self-employed.
At each place of business, the young mother completed a questionnaire regarding the health of her business, and together with Michael and Lucy, listed a number of actionable commitments to improve business operations. One copy of these commitments was left with the young mother, and the other copy remained with Michael and Lucy. This way, in follow-up visits, each knows exactly what was agreed upon as necessary to better the health of the business.
The first visit was with Mariam and Nuru (not pictured as she was off serving customers), two sisters who graduated from EBLI computer literacy and business training in 2013. Together, Mariam and Nuru operate a small food catering business, focused mainly on taking lunch orders from local construction sites and then delivering a hot meal to the workers. Combined, they estimate monthly earnings of TZS 360,000 (USD 164.76) before expenses. While this number exceeds the national average for a Tanzanian, the business is challenged by inconsistent if not intolerable payment practices by the construction workers. EBLI has seen firsthand the unique challenges that women - especially young women - face in both employment or self-employment, often the victims of harassment or abuse by men. In the case of Mariam and Nuru, the customers bully them and refuse to pay on time, forcing these two young mothers to wait up to one week to get paid for their work, often with money missing. Michael and Lucy are currently working with Mariam and Nuru to explore alternate business ventures they may pursue in light of the challenges facing the present business.
The second visit was with Suzan, a young mother who graduated in the very first batch of EBLI computer literacy and business training. Suzan manages three businesses: food catering/restaurant, grocery stand, and a hair salon. This was a follow-up visit to check on the progress of Suzan's operations. Since the last visit, Suzan has started keeping detailed records of income and expenses for two of her businesses. In analyzing these records, Michael and Lucy were able to pinpoint the more profitable and therefore lucrative sides of the business, which Suzan should focus on. When busy, Suzan's food catering/restaurant business can earn her TZS 35,000 (USD 16.02) in profit in one day. If successfully able to secure tenders five days per week, this would generate Suzan TZS 700,000 (USD 320.37) per month in profit, a truly tremendous accomplishment. The hair salon has yet to fully take-off, as Suzan plans to seek additional training on hair and beauty so that she can meet all of the customer's needs.
The third and final visit was with Martha, a young mother who graduated from EBLI computer literacy and business training this past May. She has only recently begun cooking and selling vitambua, which lacks a proper English translation, but is a morning snack or form of bites often purchased by students while walking to school. For the time being, Martha sets up her small charcoal stove near an existing local restaurant, capitalizing on the the customer traffic that already frequents that establishment. Since she is in the beginning stages, there is nothing but opportunity ahead for Martha, and Michael and Lucy are working with her to outline her goals and the steps necessary to reach them. At present Martha earns about TZS 60,000 per month (USD 27.46) from this small business.