Literally. Last Tuesday was the first day it rained since I have been in Dar. There was no warning drizzle or gradual acceleration. Rather, the sky opened with a clap of thunder, and rain came down that sounded more like gravel than water as it pounded the thin tin roof over my head.

The roof belonged to YOSEFO’s center in the Tandika community. I am told that Tandika is best referred to as an “unplanned urban settlement,” although the vernacular would suggest otherwise. Inside the center, client meeting were conducted by the light of a single candle – terms dictated by a local power outage.

Tandika is a neighborhood of Temeke, one of the poorest urban areas in Dar. There was a noticeable contrast between the Tandika center, and the Vituka center I described in my first blog…

Edson Charles, YOSEFO’s credit officer assigned to the community explained that Tandika’s clients were almost exclusively women. Most of the women run small food shops, and receive loans that are often small in comparison to clients in other areas. However, with hard work and assertiveness, the loans often enable them to improve their family’s standard of living markedly, especially relative to the status quo in Tandika.

On the road out of Tandika, the bus wove between a maze of giant potholes full of water, and neglected mounds of gravel waiting to fill them. By this time, the rain water had reached critical mass and could qualify as a creek as it coursed between the road and clusters of storefronts. Most of the stores had no protection against the rushing water, and even the few with small doorsteps could not stop the water from seeping in and pooling on the floor. With this image in mind, it is not hard to understand why self employment in Dar is no easy task. However, it is encouraging to know that the idea behind microcredit – the idea behind Kiva and YOSEFO – is that access to a small amount of capital can provide just enough to enable a microentrepreneur to turn the corner.

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