Saturday, December 6, 2008

Help do something good for Christmas?

Dear Blog Readers,

Thank you so much for taking the time out to read this letter.

As you may know, I'm here in Moshi, Tanzania at the foot of Mt. Kilimanjaro working with a local women's group called WEECE. The purpose of this group is to help empower women by providing microfinance loans and education in business and technology so that they can run their own small businesses and have their own savings. Unlike America, women still do not have equal rights in property ownership, among many things.

You may ask why WEECE is not part of a larger microfinance loan organization such as KIVA, or OptInNow, which supports individual women in developing nations. The truth of the matter is that in order to be a part of a larger organization, the local NGO must already microfinance more than 600 to 1000 women.

WEECE only has 244 members.

At the grassroots level, Funding is really hard, non existent. Don't expect the Gates fund or the Global Fund to even look in your direction.

Over the past 15 years WEECE has been growing slowly and successfully but the growth is painfully slow. The reason why is that funding for microfinance projects are shaky and bank loans are a whopping 28% interest rate. WEECE only lends at a 15% interest rate which is fair. The majority of their members do repay their loans and are moving up the loan ladder.

However, the money to fund WEECE has been mostly grant and fundraising. The problem with both is that it is not consistent. And when the money dries up, it's really hard to expand.

Since I've been here, I've worked out a business plan to acquire sustainable funding for WEECE that is consistent.

The plan is to market locally produced hand made goods with a small profit going to weece.

We would eventually like to build out a site that is on the weece website; however it is next to impossible for me to do that here in moshi. For the time being, we are going to bootstap sales of local goods by posting them on which is a market for handmade goods. They would make excellent Christmas gifts, and hopefully will arrive on time the sooner your order is placed!

I will be here in Moshi until Dec 19, and will be working with WEECE to catalog more goods from businesses that they microfinance to put on their future web shop.

As the payment is currently made to me by paypal, I will pay WEECE directly their profit for every shipment that we make.

Just one item will make a difference

The site can be found here:

Please let me know if there is anything you'd like to request.

I can also send you Really good Kilimanjaro coffee beans in 500 gram packs for $15USD - that includes the cost of shipping. Just let me know, and pay by paypal. Was unable to list that on etsy because it's food.

If you can think of any friends who may be interested, please do forward them this post!

With Best Regards,


Spring 2009, Shop Postmortem 

We made a lot of sales in the four weeks or so I was in Tanzania! Most of the items were sold via paypal and shipped by the local post office.  I collected enough to send WEECE back $250 USD in NET Profit from a few weeks of work. That translates into 1 microloan or approximately 325,000 Tanzanian shillings. I'm sure had I stuck around Tanzania bit longer I would have generated even more sales online as many of the items were Obama Kangas (cloths that had Obama's face printed on them) that sold very well as souvenir items

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