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Mwanaasha’s journey: being a young woman with deafblindness in business in Tanzania

Wednesday, 27 May, 2020

Mwanaasha sitting at a table with a map behind herMwanaasha is a young person with deafblindness in Tanzania who is challenging the false perception that people with disabilities cannot be active members of the labour market. A failed operation at the age of six resulted in Mwanaasha becoming deaf and partially sighted.  As a young girl, she attended a school for people with deafblindness where she learned vocational skills. Mwanaasha’s teachers recognised her potential and ability to read and write and they encouraged her to be moved into a mainstream class. She succeeded in school and passed her primary school exams. She proceeded on to secondary school, however Mwanaasha experienced numerous challenges – her teachers couldn’t sign and the communication barriers with her educators and peers resulted in Mwanaasha struggling to pass her exams.

Mwanaasha left school but she was determined to forge a career for herself so she looked for opportunities to start a business. Mwanaasha learned to make soap. In 2017, Mwanaasha took part in a 5-day entrepreneurship seminar run by Sense International for young entrepreneurs, she learned how to generate business ideas and key business management skills including budgeting, procurement, record-keeping and advertising.

Mwanaasha has also been supported by Sense International with glasses to improve her eyesight. Mwanaasha’s involvement with Sense International has gone from strength to strength. Recently, she took up the role of data collector in a consortium project that Sense International is engaged in entitled “Post Primary and Primary Inclusive Education in Tanzania” (PPPIET).

The PPPIET project is funded by the UK government as part of the Inclusive Futures initiative. 

Mwanaasha is still running her soap making business and she is eager to expand her business further, she says; “I don’t want to depend on just one business, many people make soap. I also want to try engaging in mobile money services and running a small restaurant.”

Find out more about Sense International Tanzania

First published: Friday 7 June 2013
Last updated: Wednesday 20 September 2017