1.1 Background and Introduction: Support for Growth-oriented Women Entrepreneurs in Tanzania, 2005

The International Labour Organization (ILO) entered into a general agreement with

the Ministry of Industry and Trade (MIT) in 2003 to implement a Women’s

Entrepreneurship Development and Gender Equality (WEDGE) Programme1 in

Tanzania. The implementing partner is the Small and Medium Enterprise Section of MIT

(MIT-SME). The first stage was to commission research to examine the factors affecting

women entrepreneurs in the country (UDEC, 2002). This consisted of a review of the

literature to identify any aspects of the policy, regulatory and business environment that

were hampering the performance of women’s enterprises. The second stage involved a

field study of 128 women entrepreneurs from Dar es Salaam, Arusha, and Zanzibar to

probe those issues, particularly as they affect women entrepreneurs’ motivations,

economic opportunities, and passages to growth and formalization (ILO and MIT-SME

Section, 2003). Preliminary findings from this research were shared at a national

conference in November 2002, from which a set of issues and recommendations for

action emerged.

In addition to these reports, the ILO has already delivered other components of the

Tanzania-WEDGE Project:

• production of a video profiling women entrepreneurs in Tanzania;2

• a series of workshops geared to mainstream gender equality issues in the

government’s 2003 national SME Policy;3

• a two-week international capacity-building workshop on women’s entrepreneurship

development (WED) at the ILO’s Turin Centre, attended by two participants from the

WEDGE-Tanzania project (August 2003);

• a one-week training programme for members of women entrepreneurs’ associations

(WEAs) and their institutional supporters to build their capacity (June 2003), followed

by additional work with three local WEAs in September-October 2003;

• a national programme on Capacity Building on Women’s Entrepreneurship

Development (WED), organized jointly with ILO’s Turin Centre, held in Zanzibar

(October 2003); and

• support for informal economy women to participate in the national Saba Saba trade

fair, as a means of helping to improve their access to markets (transfer of the

Ethiopian experience, June-July 2003).

The ILO’s strategy is to focus next on identifying possible interventions to

accelerate the rate at which women entrepreneurs can achieve growth in their enterprises.

In November 2003, the ILO contracted international consultants to conduct a field visit

to Tanzania for the purpose of assessing the strengths and weaknesses of the enabling

environment for growth-oriented women entrepreneurs.


As the world's only tripartite multilateral agency, the ILO is dedicated to bringing decent work and livelihoods, job-related security and better living standards to the people of both poor and rich countries. It helps to attain those goals by promoting rights at work, encouraging opportunities for decent employment, enhancing social protection and strengthening dialogue on work-related issues. The ILO is the international meeting place for the world of work. We are the experts on work and e...

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