Helping to Employ My Neighbors

Peter Mwita volunteers through AVC at Kilimanjaro VICOBA Network (KIVINET) – a non-governmental organization that provides capacity building and advancement of VICOBA (Village Community Bank) groups in the Kilimanjaro region. He started volunteering in January 2015.

In university, I decided to study entrepreneurship and microfinance because I knew I wanted to start my own business someday. I knew that if I had my own business, I would be able to employ people and give them steady work. This would improve their lives. I started volunteering for the same reason, because I wanted to help people.

Volunteers Hasan and Peter posing for a photo on Peter’s first day at KIVINET.

I have been at my placement organization, KIVINET, for a little over a month, and it is a great fit for me because of my university background. At KIVINET, we work to:

  • Provide education around the management of VICOBA groups and skills about entrepreneurship

  • Help VICOBA’s become registered by the Business Registrations and Licensing Agency (BRELA); this allows organizations to operate legitimately as a financial institution

  • Link VICOBA groups with formal financial institutions so they can receive loans

  • Conduct audits of VICOBA groups in the Moshi area

Some of my specific responsibilities at KIVINET have been to audit different VICOBA groups, deposit cash in the bank, assist in writing a fundraising proposal and deal with customer complaints in the customer care department. The most challenging and exciting thing I have worked on so far has been assisting with writing the fundraising grant proposal. I worked with the director of KIVINET on this project, and I learned so much because I have never written a grant proposal before. If we end up getting the money, I will feel really accomplished because I helped contribute something major to the organization–a donation of more than 50 million TSH (approximately $30,000)!

Something I find the most rewarding about my work is working with the women who come in looking for guidance on getting a loan to start small businesses. I feel like they are a part of my family–like my mother, or sister, or someone who is very close to me and I am able to help them get their businesses up and running. I act as a liaison between these aspiring entrepreneurs and local banks. I recently helped a group of women called Endeli Chako VICOBA group get a loan from a local bank and I was proud of this accomplishment.

I’ve also gotten a lot of experience with public speaking at KIVINET, which I didn’t really expect. I go with the director of KIVINET to villages with groups of 30 or more women and talk to them about our services. I always leave feeling accomplished and confident. I feel like I’ve really improved my public speaking skills since I’ve started at KIVINET.

I decided to apply to be a Volunteer with AVC because I want to help my community, and the best way to do this is through volunteering because I can also gain work experience and broaden my job building network. My expectation is that I will bring about positive change to my community at KIVINET and eventually start my own organization to help provide solutions to problems that face members of my community.