Women play a key role in the private sector and micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in Tanzania.

The proportion of women-owned enterprises (WOEs) is reported to have increased from 35 per cent in the early 1990s (NISS, 1991) to 54.3 per cent in 2012 (MIT, 2012). This amounted to 1.716 million WOEs, over 99 per cent of which are microenterprises with fewer than five employees and almost three-quarters have only one employee. The majority of women entrepreneurs are aged between 25 and 40 years, and have a low level of education. Although these women entrepreneurs are a potential motor for the economy to generate jobs and reduce poverty, multiple obstacles continue to impede their capacity to start and grow businesses in sectors that generate quality jobs, including lack of necessary capacities, as well as disadvantages due to legal impediments and cultural attitudes. In addition, their businesses tend to be younger and smaller than men’s.

Gender-related impediments include challenges in claiming rights to property and assets which could be pledged as collateral for loans and inequality in inheritance rights. Most WOEs in Tanzania are concentrated in informal, micro, low growth, and low profit activities, where entry barriers are low but price competition is intense. These include trade, food vending, tailoring, beauty salons, decorations, local brewing, catering, pottery, food processing and charcoal selling, as well as selling their products in the local market, with only small percentages selling regionally or internationally.

Objectives, results and activities

The Inclusive and Equitable Local Development Programme, Tanzania (IELD-T) aims to support local authorities in Tanzania to foster women's economic empowerment by creating an enabling environment that is necessary to achieve and sustain inclusive and equitable socio-economic development. Subsequently, this will enable women's access to public services that reduce their unpaid care work, support their local economic opportunities and enable access to the private financial services at the heart of the IELD Programme.

The IELD-T Programme will equip local governments and the private sector with the financial and technical means to identify, plan, implement and mobilize domestic capital for gender-responsive investments that take into consideration the differentiated and specific needs and priorities of poor women, with a particular emphasis on unlocking barriers to women’s economic participation. Through programmatic interventions, the IELD-T programme is expected to empower women and strengthen the Local Economic Development process (LED) in Tanzania by: reducing their unpaid work, securing women’s equitable participation in the local economy; developing gender-responsive infrastructure; and increasing women’s access to productive resources, productive employment, extension services and markets.

The IELD-T programme will be implemented in Tanzania over a three-year period between 2016 and 2019. The overall outcome of the programme is to ensure that women have increased access to public services that reduce their unpaid care work, support their local economic opportunities and enable access to the private financial services across localities in Tanzania. This core program outcome will be attained by specifically designing programmatic activities to achieve the following key sub-outcomes:

  1. Women have greater access to information and have better ability to develop effective business enterprises
  2. Barriers to women economic empowerment eliminated and an enabling public and private policy and institutional environment for women's local economic empowerment created
  3. Domestic financing unlocked and increased for gender responsive local basic services and local economic development

The IELD-T is aligned with the United Nations Development Assistance Plan (UNDAP II, 2016-2021) in Tanzania. The program is also aligned with the gender equality priorities outlined in the Women And Gender Development Policy (WGDP), National Strategy for Growth and Reduction of Poverty II (MKUKUTA II) framework and the Five Year Development Plan I (FYDP I). The IELD-T programme endeavors to support the development of gender responsive LED investments, therefore contributing to the Government of Tanzania’s efforts of achieving sustainable, inclusive, and equitable economic growth at the district level.

Stories from the Field

Contact Us

Samina Anwar
Programme Manager, IELD