Maria Daudi was born into a poor family in Tanzania and had to fend for herself early in life. Two years ago she had the courage to grab the opportunity that came her way. Today, she is a go-getting businesswoman.
Every single one of the 838 kilometers of the arduous journey from Rungwe, far in southeastern Tanzania, to the busy metropole Dar es Salaam has been worth it for Maria Daudi. Since she started showcasing her ginger products at the huge annual trade fair, her business has been booming. "I have gained many new customers and clients," she says, beaming.
It wasn't long ago that Maria's life looked starkly different. Growing up with her mother, she could never ask for money. "I knew we didn't have any," says Maria. Later, happily married, money was still in short supply. Maria worked as a farmer and her husband was a day laborer; together, they did not earn much – sometimes even too little to buy food.
A self-determined life
More than 65 percent of Tanzania's population depends on agriculture to make a living. Their income is low, they lack seeds and sometimes know-how. Because of poor roads and limited transport facilities, agricultural products are difficult to distribute. Ginger, however, is not only a miracle medicinal root, but also easy to care for – and Maria is taking advantage of both. Combined with organic farming, she has been able to build a thriving business. She gained business knowledge during workshops initiated by Helvetas. And her ginger is thriving underground.
Maria also learned marketing basics, which were useful to her in Dar es Salaam. Today, her young family can live well on the money she generates. "We are excited to be able to earn more from ginger," she says, pleased with her independence. After taking a break to have a baby, the 26-year-old businesswoman now plans to open her own store. And she already has big plans for her newborn daughter, Clara: "She should become a doctor."