Naomi Widows Project was birthed in 2016 by Judy Irwin of Murphy, NC following a mission trip to the area. The purpose is to help widows have seed money to start a small business to support themselves and their children following the death of their husband. Tanzania does not have life insurance or social security. Small businesses are the main way of providing for your sustenance.
The seed money is in the form of a loan that must be repaid so others can receive the assistance. The administration is provided by the Southeast of Lake Victoria Diocese deaconess. Currently, 30 widows are being supported by this project.
The first phase of the program is a training to equip the widows with basic knowledge of operating a business. They were given a history of the project and the purpose of the loans.
The classes they attend focuses on understanding capital, creativity, communication and the challenges and benefits of entrepreneurship. Important financial management classes teach them the importance of budgeting, and classes on marketing their business include branding, quality control, and sales techniques. These classes are taught by the General Secretary of the SELVD, Happiness Yoram Gefi.
It is mandatory for the widows to complete the training classes before receiving their funds. Successful business opportunities have included selling detergent, pharmacy supplies, vegetables and fruits, fish and other livestock as well as providing catering services.
Follow up is provided by Deaconess Matilda and she reports they are thriving. She is available to do one on one consulting and additional training as needed to expand their business skills and share new ideas with them. Some of the successful ideas given include new products that are in demand. These include products such as foot mats, wallets made out of Kitenge fiber, laptop bags, handmade jewelry in demand both in-country and overseas. The additional goal is to show charity and provide for the widows who are elderly, disabled and unable to actively participate in this program.
This successful venture is in demand in other districts. The widows are encouraged and thankful for the opportunity to be self-sufficient and not dependant on the charity of others for their survival.