MS TUKUPASE Ashery is one of few girls and young women who live their dream. With a capital of only 150,000/-, Ms Ashery has managed to open up a ‘mini pharmacy’ where she sells over the counter medicines.

Ms Ashery is among hundreds of girls who benefit from International Labour Organisation (ILO) fund, which was provided to Kyela District council and later provided to groups of girls and young women as a loan.

She narrates that the local government chairperson informed the public on the ILO support and many of them appeared for support. She said before getting the cash, they received training on entrepreneurship skills from the non-governmental organisations.

Ms Ashery joined a group of young girls in her area after receiving training on entrepreneur skills, gender and other risk behaviours from Kiota Women's Health and Development (KIWOHEDE), SAUTI and other NGOs that are committed to support vulnerable adolescent girls and young women (vAGYW) to live better lives.

According to Ms Ashery, officials from KIWOHEDE and SAUTI reached various girls in the district and she was among the luck who received trainings.

“We were trained on how to start business, develop capital and keep records, I was lucky to receive such trainings,” she said.

Under the DREAMS initiatives, girls were mobilised to form groups and later trained on economic issues, gender and entrepreneurship skills and other risky behaviours. She said after receiving trainings and the money she decided to open up a mini-pharmacy in a remote area in Kyela District.

Ms Ashery said few years ago, she attended a one year nursing training at Chimala College. She later went for training at the Tanzania Food and Drugs Authority (TFDA).

“I was interested in nursing and running pharmacy related businesses, I want to serve my fellow human beings, this has been my dream for many years,” she said. According to Ms Ashery, she received 150,000/- as a loan from the district council and directly went to open up a mini pharmacy.

“This is my business, I have dreamt about this business for many years, and today, I thank God I can see the light” she explains.

Ms Ashery explains that she decided to open up the mini pharmacy business after analysing the situation in the area. She said that from the training she received from KIWOHEDE and other NGOs, she managed to realise her value in the society.

She added that the training also enabled her to identify opportunities and thus opening the mini-pharmacy business was her best choice.

“We were taught how to realise and identify business opportunities; I did a survey and realised that in this area, people travel long distance just to buy paracetamol and other pain killers tablets. I therefore realised that opening such business in this area was a good idea,” she said.

According to Ms Ashery, so far her business is picking up well. She is capable of making profit that help her to boost her capital. Other businesses Apart from running mini-pharmacy business, Ms Ashery also sells groundnuts and operates some other small businesses. “The little money I get from selling groundnut helps me to rehabilitate my office, as you can see I am still making some improvements,” she said.

Challenges Ms Ashery said before getting the loan, the life was very challenging. “It was very difficult to conduct life in this area without any income, Men were using the opportunity to play with girls who did not have any income, today, things have changed,” she said.

According to Ms Ashery it was difficult for her to get capital to run any business. The only way to get cash was through asking it from friends and relatives who also did not have any."

Life after loan Ms Ashery said after getting a loan and opening business, life has changed. She said getting 200,000/- is not a big task for now. She now gets some profit from her businesses, which helps her to run life in a decent manner.

“I can assure you now that no man can take me for advantage, things have changed, I can now manage my own life because I am running this small business,” she added.

She added: “I am looking forward to expand this business. In the coming one year, I am looking forward to make major changes,” Achievements Ms Ashery said that so far she has managed to fulfill one of her dreams. She said to become successful one must stay focused and work hard. Her plans are to buy a plot ad build a modern house in Kyela District. She also wants to become a big investor in the pharmaceutical business.

“I am confident that all of my dreams will come true,” said Ms Ashery. Giving the scope of the SAUTI project in Kyela, Ms Lilian Kisanga, a Social and economic empowerment specialist, under SAUTI project said the programme has proved to be positive for HIV intervention because under this programme, most of the girls are busy with income generating activities which are freeing them from engaging into risky behaviours.

“There is a notable transformation from this type of intervention. With ILO support, here in Kyela, a total of 12 groups have accessed loan amounting 29.5m/- which was disbursed into three phases since February this year,” she said.

As part of the SAUTI Project portfolio, the economic strengthening intervention and revolving funds support for vulnerable adolescent girls and young women (vAGYW) is implemented by Jhpiego in partnership with Pact, EngenderHealth and Kyela District Council with Support from ILO and USAID through the U.S. Government’s PEPFAR under the DREAMS initiatives.