Women take up business and leadership positions in Golden Line community in Tanzania

A group of women in the mining community Mgusu in Tanzania have joined forces and set up a business together in selling protective mining equipment. These women are involved in the Golden Line programme of Solidaridad, Simavi and Healthy Entrepreneurs, and together they have formed an EA$E (Economic and Social Empowerment) group. Moreover, there are now increasingly more women taking up leadership positions in the community thanks to the Golden Line training they have received. In February, we interviewed some of these women in the Mgusu community.

The women in the EA$E (Economic and Social Empowerment) group in the Mgusu mining community in Tanzania, holding up the protective gear they sell in their business

Women set up business in protective mining gear

The Golden Line is a women-centred programme to economically empower women in mines and mining communities. Within the scope of this programme, women are invited to participate in EA$E groups. EA$E (Economic and Social Empowerment) is a gender-transformative model which allows women to increase access to and control over economic resources and social networks, increase decision-making power, and mitigate violence in mines and communities. 

The Golden Line has supported the women in the EA$E group called ‘Ukomosi’ (meaning: lift them up) to set up a savings group. In this group, women come together each week and put aside a small amount of money which they can access again at any time. After a year, the group started their business in selling protective gear in January 2020, inspired by a Golden Line training they received and in which they saw business potential. This training has made them aware of the importance of using personal protective equipment (PPE) in mining. In addition, the women have also received business skills training by Solidaridad, and this has contributed to their realization of the value of having this business.

Examples of mining equipment sold by the Ukomosi group of women 

This group now consists of 20 members: women who work in the Mgusu mine. They sell masks, overalls, boots, glasses used when pounding stones, earplugs, first aid kits, and gloves for amalgamation/mercury to mine workers. The Mgusu mine management buys their equipment for their staff and individual miners, and has also supported them by providing them room to keep their stock.

Each of the women has contributed 20 thousand Tanzanian shillings (of their own money) to start up their business together, and the group intends to keep on improving and investing in it further. The women we have interviewed have indicated that what they need is further business skills training, such as marketing, customer care, record keeping. Their dream is to open up a large shop in town to sell protection equipment, in a central place where many people pass by daily and can find them easily.

On the left: One of the women in the Ukomosi EA$E group demonstrates mining gear they sell; On the right: Male miner in the community making use of the protective gloves

Leadership positions for women in mining community

Thanks to the training provided by the Golden Line in the Mgusu community, more women are now taking up leadership positions. One of these women is Magdalena, 38, who has worked in Mgusu for four years. In an interview, Magdalena has indicated that the pay she has been receiving in Mgusu is higher than in the mine where she used to work, crushing stones. Her current work is lighter and she can work fewer hours. 

Magdalena, one of the women involved in the Golden Line in the Mgusu community, now has an improved leadership position thanks to the training provided

“The mine has changed since I work here. Since we’ve been trained, now there is respect. Men are respecting us, women are valued. Previously you couldn’t get closer to the [mining] area. First of all, these jobs were not for women, most of the workers were men. The management even asks women if they want to do these jobs. 

For instance, the man has bags of ore and wants to employ you, and as a woman you can say yes, I want to work. If the bag is too heavy, they call men to bring the bag. Previously, if you couldn’t do a job, the job was given to men. And the way men ask us has changed. Previously, they called you in a harsh way, and I thought, what have I done wrong? But now they talk in a nice way to me. They call me by my name, Magdalena, or mama.”

Now Magdalena has big ambitions for the future: to be an important business woman in selling PPEs, or to even become a senator.

Running a business in the mining community

Pendo Matata, 41, has worked in the Mgusu mining community since 2013. She used to sell fruit, alcohol, and charcoal, and in the meantime has registered with a group of the cooperative to get a mining licence. She has switched from selling alcohol to grains because of the misbehaviour on the part of those customers who were drinking too much. Pendo Matata is a mother of seven children.

Pendo Matata, one of the women involved in the Golden Line in the Mgusu community, now has an improved leadership position thanks to the training provided

Back in the day, there were no women managers, she told us. Women didn’t even come close to the mining areas. Now, there are women working in the mines, and women in leadership positions. 

“A lot has changed in my life. First of all, I can save money, and I save when I receive my share and use a part for the needs at home. When I have sick people at home, I have somewhere to run to for help and to borrow money. I realized myself as a woman what I’m supposed to do. Secondly, it has given me the experience to run a business. I feel happy and I desire for more successes from now on. I have never done business before. First of all, I am thankful to the Golden Line for helping me come so far.

Much has changed in Tanzania. Maybe not for those who have not been to school. Before I was given training, I was having children. I can imagine that if I had had this training in family planning and I would have known the different methods, I would have used them and not had so many children. These are trainings from ambassadors who come to our houses.”

Pendo Matata now has the ambition to be an important business woman in selling food crops as a supplier to the Mgusu mines. 

The EA$E group in Mgusu demonstrating the protective gear equipment they sell in their business. On the left, representatives from Simavi and Solidaridad during their visit to the mining community.

The Golden Line 2019 annual report is now available on our website.

You can also read about the COVID-19 prevention activities organized in the Golden Line communities in Ghana and Tanzania.

The Golden Line programme is made possible with the financial support from the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs.