14 July 2014

help michael continue small business development in tanzania.

Ashley and I need your help. We seldom if ever talk about funding on our blog, but the reality cannot be ignored.

Our work in Tanzania is impossible without your financial support. 

We are both Maryknoll Lay Missioners living and working with the poor in Tanzania. Financial gifts from family, friends and really cool total strangers allow us to be here doing what we do.

This is what I do, and here is how you can help.

What work is Michael doing?

I started a project through a local Tanzanian non-governmental organization, Education for Better Living Organization (EBLI), that helps the poor learn the process of starting and running a successful group enterprise, and then implement. Specifically, I work with young mothers who dropped out of secondary school due to pregnancy, street children, child domestic workers, and their families. The hope is to empower them to attain economic emancipation and rise out of poverty through income generating activities.

michael leading an entrepreneurship workshop (note the imperfect swahili).

After evaluating existing projects, I believe that the group enterprise process I am leading is differentiated from other developing world entrepreneurship programs in the following ways:
  • Group-based: participants leverage their strength as a group by utilizing the skill set of each member and the collective power of group savings to start and run a business together
  • Long-term: each participant and their respective group enterprise receives months of direct and personalized teaching and coaching
  • Complete partnership: facilitators walk with the participants through every step of group enterprise implementation, including ideation, planning, and management
  • Tangible outcomes: every participant will have developed a fully-vetted business plan if not implemented their business, and have the tools to begin another business in the future
  • Total freedom: participatory methods afford the liberty to choose which idea to pursue, and ongoing coaching prepares each group enterprise to be self-sufficient
group of young mothers doing an individual exercise on entrepreneurship meant to stretch their creativity.

The goals for this work are the following:
  • Equip participants with the knowledge and tools for starting and running a successful group enterprise without outside dependency
  • Enable participants to attain economic emancipation and rise out of poverty through strategically planned income-generating activities
  • Empower participants to joyfully and confidently live a full and dignified life
young mother, esther, presenting the business needs for her group enterprise.

After only two months, here are some of the accomplishments:
  • 3 group enterprises (tending livestock, new clothing store, local cooks) consisting of 12 young mothers have begun planning their businesses and explored the procurement of capital
  • 50 child domestic workers have been trained in entrepreneurship
  • 70 street children and their families are currently beginning the group enterprise process
  • 85 young mothers are in the final stages of planning and commencing entrepreneurial businesses selling beverages, snacks and mobile phone vouchers in partnership with local companies
  • 200 young mothers are in the pipeline to begin entrepreneurship training and establish group enterprises in the future
ebli director, bernard, speaking with michael's group of young mothers.

How can you help?

You can make a donation. Simple as that.

Your financial gift will offset the cost of entrepreneurship workshops that I lead, and provide the capital to fund sustainable group enterprises that I am helping Tanzanians to establish. In other words, you will be supporting small business development in Tanzania.

But it's not just about me and the work I am doing. In addition to entrepreneurship training and small business development, your financial contributions help fund the following activities (which you can read about on our Support page):

Our work in Tanzania is impossible without your support!

Please consider making a financial donation to support our work in Tanzania. Tax-deductible donations can be made via a secure online form, over the phone (1-800-867-2980), or by mail (Maryknoll Lay Missioners, P.O. Box 307, Maryknoll, NY 10545-0307). You can make a one-time donation, or if you are really awesome, you can choose to make a recurring gift (monthly, quarterly or annually).


A very amazing and generous donor has agreed to match dollar-for-dollar every donation made on our behalf in the next month - no joke. This means your financial gift will double if made in the next 30 days. Please consider making your donation now to maximize its impact!

To ensure that your financial contribution directly supports our work in Tanzania, please state your gift is for "Michael and Ashley Leen - Mission Account" in the "Comments" box for online donations or in the memo line for old-school handwritten checks.

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