"Unity is strength, division is weakness"
In rural villages of Kilimanjaro Region, Tanzania, where globalbike works and where the average household income is $42 per month, women may have a dollar or two to save each month. Women who manage to save money often come together in groups, as cooperatives, to pool these savings and increase the investment potential of collective funds. They start group-owned businesses that have long-term financial returns for all women in the cooperative, and they provide money for members undergoing economic hardship. Their shared investments essentially act as insurance against poverty and as a source of women's economic empowerment. This is the power of women connected.
The bike shop team at Enaboishu women's cooperative with Namsifu, globalbike program coordinator.
globalbike is partnering with women's groups in Tanzania who organize themselves according to this model of women's empowerment and cooperation. These cooperatives recognize a principal foundational to globalbike's work -- that together we are stronger than we are alone. In the language of a well-known Swahili proverb, “unity is strength, division is weakness.” These women know that they can grow the health, well-being and economic security of their communities when they work together.
The support women's cooperatives provide each other is not just financial. Members help each other through difficult times, discuss social issues together, and take trainings in topics like gender empowerment. Just as their pooled savings grows the impact of individual savings, their shared experiences inspire internal strength and perseverance.
"Enaboishu" is the Maasai word for "unity."
It is this same power of women connecting that has been inspiring female donors and cyclists in the US to raise money for globalbike. Women in the US know that their donations enable globalbike to make bicycles accessible in villages on a scale that would otherwise be unthinkable for poor rural communities. A woman in the US donating a bike to globalbike programs gives each woman who rents the bike a 25-57% boost in her small business income, and she enables the shop to receive $2 more in profits per month. As women in Tanzania bring money home, they report that they garner respect and admiration from their partners as they become seen as capable leaders in the community and as financial contributors at home.
Dr. "Bibi" Katherine Jeter who has pledged to raise $80,000 for globalbike on her 80th birthday.
Dr. Jeter is leading efforts to engage donors and women cyclists in the US as champions of women's economic empowerment in Tanzania.
The connection between women in the US and women in Tanzania is also more than financial. We are learning from female donors that they see their own stories, struggles, and successes mirrored in the lives and ventures of women in Tanzania; women's experiences as mothers, daughters, sisters, and providers are universal and transcend cultural and economic boundaries. When female donors share their good fortunes in finance and friendship with women in Tanzania, they receive returns of the heart that uplift their lives.
globalbike board member, Joan Tobey, with Naisojack, a member of the Kazi na Sala women's cooperative. Joan has led
globalbike's engagement with young adults and families who attend globalbike's gb connect trips to Tanzania. Naisojack
participates in Kazi na Sala's group-owned jewelry business.
This month, we will bring you stories about the women who partner with globalbike. Follow us and learn what unites women in Tanzania with women in the US. Witness how women across the globe inspire each other and find strength working together. “Umoja ni nguvu, utengano ni udhaifu.”