From loss to strength in Tanzania

The founder of Selfina, a micro-credit organization for women in Tanzania, talks to the Post's Lillian Cunningham about what motivated her work. (Lillian Cunningham, Gillian Brockell, Julio Negron and Jayne Orenstein/The Washington Post)

 

When Victoria Kisyombe's husband passed away, she received at least one ray of good fortune that many other widows in Tanzania never experience — she was able to keep the family cow, Sero. In a country where women usually don't inherit assets, widows and female orphans can lose the ability to support themselves if a husband or father dies. For this reason, and out of her own experience being able to sell milk and generate income, Kisyombe started the micro-credit organization Selfina in 2002.

Selfina leases assets to women —more than 25,000 to date — so they can start their own businesses and eventually qualify for help from larger financial institutions. Earlier this summer, Kisyombe received the 2014 economic empowerment award from Vital Voices, an organization that began as a policy initiative in 1997 by then first lady Hillary Clinton and Secretary of State Madeleine Albright to support women across the globe.

Kisyombe is the latest interviewee to join The Washington Post's "On Leadership" video series. In the video above, she talks about how she started Selfina and the leadership responsibility she feels toward the women in her country.

Also from our video series:

Christine Lagarde: 'Don't let the bastards get you'

Bringing Gandhi to the red light district

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Lillian Cunningham is the editor and feature writer for The Washington Post's 'On Leadership' section.

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Tom Fox · August 19, 2014

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