The Majengo district of Arusha looks nothing like the postcard images of Tanzania – no golden savannah, no elephants or lions, no Kilimanjaro, no lush Zanzibar beaches. The streets here are ankle-deep in mud, and the cinder-block houses are small, dark, and drafty, their floors wet with recent rain.
This is where Selemani Mohamed, aged 75, father of 18, makes his home and his living. A producer of snack foods, Mohamed is one of four entrepreneurs who approached Accion partner Akiba Commercial Bank as a ‘solidarity group’ to borrow collectively for their individual businesses. Of the 1.4 million Tanzanian shillings ($870) that the group has borrowed for its third loan, Mohamed’s share is $375, which he is using to buy ingredients in bulk. His snack specialties include ubuyu – baobab seeds dipped in a bright red, sweet-but-spicy coating that you suck – carefully, spitting out the seed – and cashata, crunchy clusters of peanuts, honey, sesame seeds and more that would give CrackerJax a good run for its money.