The United Republic of Tanzania is situated in the east of Africa, bordered by Kenya, Uganda, Burundi, Rwanda, Democratic Republic of Congo, Zambia, Malawi and Mozambique. It measures 886,037 sq kilometre of land. In 1961 Tanzania got independence from British government. Tanganyika and Zanzibar merged to form the nation of Tanzania in 1964.
Tanzania is a rural country with a population of 40 million inhabitants (2002). Tanzania is a quiet, stable country. Where before, Tanzania’s human development index was stagnating, it is now steadily growing since 1995 and doing better compared to other sub-Saharan countries. This steady growth is mainly due to better figures for income and the economic situation. The inflation has been put under control, not over passing 10%.
One of the lingering threats is the high prevalence of HIV /AIDS that makes figures of life expectancy being brought down to 51 years. Besides the good evolution of the economy, basic figures for health services still remain very low. Primary education figures are improving seriously as 69% of the population can read and write and 91% of the children start primary school. Exceptions are for the poorest and the orphans of child headed households.
Mufindi district is a beautiful, remote area in the south of Tanzania. It is a district with important economic potential. It has partly more fertile soils and has the possibility to evacuate products along the Tanzam highway, which passes through Mufindi and connects Dar-Es-Salaam with Zambia and Malawi. Also the TAZARA-railway, connecting Dar-Es-Salaam with Zambia, passes through the area of Mufindi. The remote villages are sometimes not accessible in the rainy season because of bad roads.
Mufindi district has seen a lot of changes in a good way: commerce has been developing in towns like Mafinga; general living standard is slowly getting higher, although for the remote villages, the population’s life is often difficult. After the extreme drought periods in the late 1990s, initiatives of Incomet and later MuCoBa started so that people could cope better with periods of drought. Life conditions improved, but still a lot of work has to be done to eradicate the yearly periods of hunger that hit a lot of people in the poorer areas. This positive dynamic of a growing area where life gets better, also has some extra challenges, that include prevalence and growth of HIV /AIDS.
MuCoBa is one of the few sustainable microfinance institutions that operate in an interior district such as Mufindi, about 700km from Dar-Es-Salaam. Within Mufindi, it also serves the poorer and remoter parts as Malangali Division, thus creating extra economic opportunities for this area. Working in a more remote area creates more challenges, as to find qualified staff and coping with higher transportation costs because of the bad roads. MuCoBa has been gradually growing and steadily giving better services to its customers sustainably.