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small business loan program

small business loan program

the small business loan program is open for applications

The Pemba Foundation has developed a program to encourage the creation of new businesses.  Small loans are available on a competitive basis to entrepreneurs who live in Pemba.

Thanks to a generous grant from a partner US-based foundation, Random Acts, this program is now fully funded and active.  
Pemba Foundation executive director Nassor Marhun visits one of many small businesses that could use loans to expand and create jobs.

The program aims to: to raise the level of economic activity in Pemba; encourage talented people to stay on the island; create new jobs; and in some cases maybe even to spur development of export industries.


We plan to make about 20 loans, limited to no more than about US$2,000 each. We will be highly selective and expect to consider many more applications than the loans we make.


The application process is demanding: there is a lengthy form to complete, one purpose of which is to guide applicants through the elements of a basic business plan. Applicants then have to pass an initial screening by foundation staff, followed by detailed assessments by our outside advisers (see below). Personal interviews follow, and successful applicants then must agree to a detailed legal agreement covering the terms of the loan. Loans are secured and interest-free. New entrepreneurs will have extensive reporting obligations throughout the term of the loan, and they will be supported with regular guidance from outside advisers with appropriate backgrounds.


This program grew out of one of the Foundation's first business support ventures, in which we provided a loan to a women's group which produces spice products. They needed equipment and packaging for expansion. We learned many lessons: like the right loan size and reporting requirements, and the need for contining business advice. We have built these elements into the current program.


Since we made the loan to the women's group we have been approached for support by many Pembans who have business ideas, and this progam is our response.

We have had a strong response to this program, and are in discussion with several promising candidates for loans. Clicking the link at the top of the page will take you to the online application form. Non-Pembans are welcome to try it out, but please do not click the final button to submit an application.

Profile: Tahir Mussa Omar, business adviser

Tahir Mussa Omar is one of Pemba's most accomplished entrepreneurs. Trained in land management and valuation, for 15 years he built a successful career at the Zanzibar government's Department of Lands, rising to become head of the Pemba office, a position he held for 8 years. He always knew he wanted to run his own business, however, and in their spare time he and his wife set up a small restaurant. They taught themselves how to make the business work over about 4 years, and in 2004 he left the government to work full-time in the business.


Tahir and his wife have now developed a thriving retail chain, with 2 cosmetics shops and a beauty salon; the original restaurant has been expanded; and Tahir also runs a land management consulting business.


Speaking from hard-won personal experience, Tahir says there is nothing more important in business than financial discipline. Yes you need a good idea, but even the best idea can fail without good financial management. He teaches the recipients of our small business loans how to apply this lesson in practice.


Tahir speaks Swahili and English. Reach him at

Profile: Bakar Hamad Said, farming adviser

Bakar was one of the first small-scale farmers on whose land the Pemba Foundation installed a drip-irrigation system. That was a grant, not a loan, but Bakar then went on to develop a profitable small farm, producing a mix of cash and subsistence crops. Now he's building a house on the farm for a new worker and his wife, and is expanding the land under cultivation.


Bakar is a skilful and knowlegeable farmer: he taught himself how to use modern chemicals, how to integrate livestock into farm operations, how to intercrop to make optimum use of irrigated areas, and how to market his produce. He could easily have handled the repayments if it had been a loan for irrigation, not a grant. In fact it's partly our experience with Bakar that suggested to us that loans to farmers should be part of this program.


As a self-taught farmer and farmer-businessman, Bakar makes an excellent role model and adviser for people receiving loans aimed at agricultural development.


Bakar speaks Swahili, and can be reached at +255 656 092 764

Profile: Jeroen de Boorder, agriculture and livestock adviser

Jeroen de Boorder, shown here in the passion fruit grove he started on the Tanzania mainland, advises for our irrigation program and the small business program. 

Jeroen is a veterinarian who spent eight years living on Pemba, where he worked on a number of successful agricultural development projects including livestock improvement, beekeeping, and fruit and vegetable farming. Jeroen's wife, Saada, is Pemban and the family, now living in the Netherlands, visits the island frequently. 

Jeroen is a volunteer who donates his time to the Pemba Foundation. 

Jeroen speaks Dutch, English, French and Swahili. Reach him at