Iringa Hope is an MN-based nonprofit founded by Dr. Thomas Hendrickson, a Lakeville Rotarian, to provide education, training, and microloans to the poor rural residents of the Iringa, Tanzania area. Through a coordinated program of training in managing finances, agronomy, and basic business management Iringa Hope trains its members to increase their incomes. Following training, the members save money, develop a plan to increase their incomes, then take out small loans ($200-$450) for their small farms (typically 1-4 acres). The project that Lakeville Rotary’s grant-funded provided loans to 771 families in this program. These loans allowed the families to increase their incomes from $300/year to an average of $754/year – and increase of 250%!
The borrowers were mainly female head-of-household supporting a family of 6. They had a repayment record of 100% on time and in full – making them a much better credit risk than borrowers in the US! The families used their incomes to improve their nutrition (38% of children were malnourished before the loans and none were afterward); send over 1,000 children to school; and many, many other things.
In 2017, 2018, and 2019 Tom traveled to Iringa to assist in the training and administration of the program. Members of the Morogoro Central club met with him there and worked with him. They helped the Iringa Hope staff with classes, made visits to the villages, and interviewed borrowers to collect data on the loans. Two of the stories of the borrowers are given here – Sylvia is 38 years old. She has 4 children, 3 girls, and one boy. Her son is 16 while the girls are 12, 7, and two months old.
Sylvia farms six acres near Tungamalinga. She has 4 acres in rice and two acres in maize. She and her husband also run a small shop where she sells domestic supplies such as cooking oil. She took out a loan for $150 to buy fertilizer for her rice. This was not enough to properly fertilize her entire crop so she used less fertilizer than what was recommended. Her rice crop was still several times what she used to get before she was able to afford fertilizer. She told us that her crop was worth almost $500 so she earned $320 from her loan.
She has now taken out a loan for $450. This is enough to fertilize her entire field. She thinks that she will earn over $650 from her crop, but she will not know until she harvests it.
Sylvia told us that she uses her profits to send her oldest to secondary school and her youngest to primary school. This year she hopes to earn enough to also expand her shop.
Atwasye Mlowe is 43 years old, is married, and has 4 sons. Her sons are ages 21, 18, 13, and 9 years old. She and her husband farm 3 acres of land and raise chickens. They live in the rural village of Ifunda.
Atwasye borrowed $230 to buy fertilizer for her crop. She planted 1 acre of potatoes and 2 acres of maize. She was very proud of her harvest – it was 4 to 5 times larger than it used to be. She kept some of the potatoes and maize for her family and sold the rest. After repaying her loan and all of her expenses she earned $685 from her crop, plus what she kept for her own use.
Alwayse is using her profits to send her children to school and grow her chicken business. Right now she is helping her oldest son go to the University in Arusha while she is sending her two middle boys to secondary school.
She is also buying chicks to raise. She currently has 50 chicks she is raising but she plans on having 250 soon. She will raise these and then sell them at the market.
She is hoping to borrow $680 so she can expand her chicken business to 1,000 chicks and plant her crop.
Hosting Rotary Club – Rotary Club of Lakeville Rotary District 5960
Other clubs/districts involved either monetary or volunteers
- Prior Lake Rotary Club
- Roseville Rotary Club
- Stillwater Rotary Club
- Stillwater Sunrise Rotary Club