During President Clinton’s stop in Tanzania on Saturday, he met 22 year-old Zainabu Rashid, a woman living in a highly marginalized community on the outskirts of Dar Es Salaam. Rashid is the owner of her own hair salon in the village and a member of the Upendo Hisa savings group. Set up three years ago through “Banking on Change”—a partnership between Barclays, CARE International UK, and Plan UK—Upendo Hisa uses a community-led savings model to help people in the village save money and effectively manage their finances.
Among the participants of the community savings groups in Tanzania, 80 percent are women—a demographic Barclays reports is often excluded from financial decision-making. Rashid has managed to gain autonomy over her career, and during a tour of Rashid's salon, President Clinton learned that she is the eldest of four children, a newlywed, and, thanks to the Banking on Change partnership, a proud entrepreneur. Below is what Rashid told us about how Barclays’ CGI Commitment to Action has impacted her ability to save, her freedom to dream, and her prospects for furthering her financial independence.
"The Mistress of My Own Destiny"
When I left school, it was really hard to get a job. At school, I had dreams of being a hair dresser, but there were no opportunities, so I started plaiting women’s hair in their homes and earned a little bit of money here and there. I really didn’t have a fixed income and certainly didn’t feel I had a chance of having my own business. I was living with my Mum, my two sisters and my brother.
Joining the savings group enabled me to save up enough money to rent my own salon. After saving for a while, I was then able to take out a loan from the group so that I could buy my own equipment—a hair dryer and a wider range of styling products. I was able to pay back that loan, and then take out another as my business grew, so I now have two dryers and have really increased the number of customers who visit my salon. I was able to move out of my Mum’s house and rent my own place. I feel that I am now the mistress of my own destiny.
Saving Money and Setting an Example
It was a big thing for me to join the group—I was quite skeptical when it started three years ago, so I didn’t join straight away. But I learned it really is possible to save no matter how little money you have; you just have to arrange how you spend it and make sure you put a little aside every week. Before joining the group, I was only making 4800 Tzs ($3) a day. Now my business makes three or four times that.
One of the other things I’ve learned is how important it is to put aside enough money to pay back your loan when you take one out. I make sure I have enough money each week for the meeting, and I don’t feel it’s a challenge to find the money to save any more. And now, many other people are interested in joining the group because they’ve seen people like me opening up new businesses and maintaining our own houses.
A Bright Future for her Business—and for Women in Tanzania
I’d always dreamt that I would have my own salon and even my own chain of two, three, or four. Now I believe that could be possible. I’d like to employ other people to work in my salons, but I want to continue to work myself, too.
There are other salons in the village, but I don’t mind the competition. I think it all depends on how you handle your clients and do your business. I am interested in my clients and making them feel special and that I know them—that’s why they keep coming back to me, and I think my business can grow.
Women in the village are now able to stand up for their families without depending on their husbands. My new husband is proud that I have a successful business and that I feel I can make my own plans and then really carry them out.
Photo credit: Max Orenstein / Clinton Foundation