Twelve-year-old Atupenda hopes to become a teacher one day. This fifth grader attends school in Kilolo, Tanzania. Her favorite subject is English, and she plays netball after school with her friends.

Atupenda and Atuitie in front of store, microfinance

Atupenda and Atuitie in front of store

Her mother, Atuitie, recently paid back her first loan of $75 to the Mama Bahati Foundation, a Five Talents microfinance partner based in Iringa, Tanzania. She used the loan to increase the inventory of her small vegetable store, which resulted in new customers and increased sales. The additional income for the family has given Atupenda a new sense of self-confidence.

“The loan has enabled our family to have better clothes to wear,” Atupenda said.

The Mama Bahati Foundation (MBF) currently has 740 clients. The average initial loan size is $54, and the average repayment rate is 99 percent. MBF was registered as a Tanzanian non-governmental organization (NGO) in February 2006, in order to provide microfinance services to women in, and around, Iringa. The project is named after a poor Tanzanian woman called Mama Bahati or “Mother of Chance,” who used a loan of $8 to break out of the cycle of poverty. The project is the idea of the former Archbishop of the Anglican Church of Tanzania Donald Mtetemela.

Because of the foundation’s work and her mother’s success, Atupenda is excited about the new possibilities open to her. Being able to pay for the education necessary to become a teacher is now more than a wish, it is a reality.

Established in 1999, Five Talents International has provided funding for business training and thousands of loans, ranging from $50 to $300, in 15 countries across Africa, Asia, and Latin America. Each loan finances a microbusiness that, in turn, supports up to six other people. A majority of the loan recipients are women.

Five Talents’ ongoing work is supported by a staff based in Vienna, Va., an office in London, England, and a program office in Kampala, Uganda. Hundreds of volunteers across the United States and United Kingdom participate in the ministry. For more information and to donate, visit

children of microfinance: atupenda in tanzania

by Kelli Ross time to read: 2 min