November 19th is National Entrepreneurs Day and in honor of this day we want to spotlight women entrepreneurs. Folkways Culture Kits has fostered a special interest in the livelihood of women artisans such as the women basket weavers from WomenCraft in Tanzania. Here is the story that WomenCraft shared with us:
Hadija lives with her seven children in a remote rural village called Mwivuza in the rolling hills of the Kagera region, one of least developed regions in the northwest of Tanzania. Their traditional mud-house is made from the red soil of the area. Kagera is diverse and rich in culture but has faced instability from conflicts in neighbouring Rwanda and Burundi that have resulted in streams of refugees being settled in camps in the region.
Hadija is a passionate artisan and she loves to weave. She joined WomenCraft eight years ago as one of the business’s first artisans. Through her weaving, she has become the sole breadwinner of her household. Being part of WomenCraft means that she has access to international markets which generate fair prices and a reliable income. Apart from WomenCraft, there are little to no alternative market opportunities for local artisans. In this regard, being part of WomenCraft also enables Hadija and her artisan colleagues to keep their long-standing weaving tradition and culture alive.
When asked about an accomplishment she is most proud of, Hadija says that:
“I am proud that through my weaving, I am able to send my children to school and to buy decent clothes for us all. Best of all, I am in charge of our finances. I support our family without being dependent on my husband.”
In the Kagera Region, gender roles are still very traditional and women carry most of the household’s workload but are rarely able to manage their income themselves. WomenCraft invested in understanding local gender norms and empowering women through counseling sessions and workshops with husbands. Today, just like Hadija, the majority of women artisans are in charge of their incomes, which are used responsibly for the development of their families’ livelihoods.