From entrepreneur to community leader

Christina Mombuli, from Meru District, Tanzania, overturned expectations of what a women’s role ‘should be’ to succeed not just as an entrepreneur but as a leader.  

Before joining Hand in Hand, Christina and her husband struggled to afford daily necessities – earning just below the international poverty line of USD 1.90 per day. Now, after taking part in business skills training and starting to manufacture and sell soap, toiletries and beaded jewelry, Christina has increased her family’s income twelvefold.  

However, for Christina, the biggest transformation of all is in her confidence and leadership skills. Gender discrimination is commonplace in the Meru district where Christina lives, and, traditionally, women don’t hold positions of power within the community. Thanks to leadership training from Hand in Hand, Christina is now a well-respected local leader. She serves on the Village Council, on the Meru District Council, as the chairperson of her local Mother’s Union Unit, and is the only female board member for a milk processing company.  

“I was a leader before I started the training,” Christina explains. “But I hardly knew any leadership techniques, so I was scared to dare and take risks. Hand in Hand gave me direction and now I recognize my duties and my responsibilities as a leader.” 

For Christina, leadership means helping women come together solve their problems as a group, and demand change. “Collective action helps us exercise voice and choice. It is a route to local problem-solving,” she adds. 

In areas where literacy levels are low, Hand in Hand trainers use storytelling and parables to help women memorize new techniques quickly. “Through the workshop I gained confidence which I was missing greatly, due to cultural norms of our community but also due to lower levels of education.”  

Now, Christina is using her position to advocate for the next generation. Many girls in the district miss out on an education if their parents can’t afford the school fees, or if they have to travel a long distance to the nearest school. As a District Councillor Christina is backing a scheme to build a new girls boarding school in the district. “This will be without much cost to their parents who have a lower level of income” Christina says.