Lucina Lazaro Comino – Tanzania

Date: September 28, 2015
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Despite of the challenges I face, I do not lose hope. This is because Ubhumwe consists of women and men. Being a woman leading such a challenging organisation, I have to prove myself and to me this is what makes a driver of change.

Being a leader is very challenging, one needs to be patient when dealing with people. At the moment I hold the post of loan officer at Ubhumwe SACCOS which is in Temeke district. My routine work is to deal with loan application forms by verifying the applicants’ savings accounts, setting the rate of return each month according to the loan taken and the time period that the loan will last without violating the rules and regulations of the SACCOS.

Members are strictly prohibited from ignoring the time frame allocated for a certain loan to expire; all loans should be recovered within the time earmarked. As a loan officer it is my duty to request a monthly bank statement report from the SACCOS accountant so as to check individual returns to compare with his /her monthly instalment rates.

If it happens that there is no return from anybody, I have a mandate to remind all debtors to adhere to the rules and regulations of the organisation. Experience shows that most of the time these debtors fail to understand that it is their obligation to abide by the rules and regulations, as per their signed contracts. This is a big challenge for me, as it hinders my ability to fulfil my duties.

One day in a general meeting we decided to reduce (riba) loans to people who deposit their returns early, by giving them a long period to pay back, so as to motivate them to take loans. By doing that we motivated them to take loans and they deposit their returns without any pressure from the loan officer.

As a leader I became a driver of change by becoming a champion in taking loans and deposit returns on time. I spent the money on renovating my house and paying school fees for my children. The loan I took last year was for building a car park and a fence. In this way other people have learned from me how to spend the money they borrow. I told them life is what you make of it so you have to set priorities to achieve development. So now as leader I live in a good house, my children are in good schools, I take care of my mom and I bought a car. All this made some of my colleagues admire my life style and development.

I was born in 1972 in Kilimanjaro Region, being the first born of Mr and Mrs Lazaro Comino. I started my primary education in 1980 in Dar es Salaam after my parents decided to move from the Kilimanjaro Region to Dar es Salaam because my father was working as the Moshi District Commissioner.

When I was about ten years old my mother taught me how to wash dishes, wash clothes and do other domestic work at home. This experience helped me to become independent in everything that I do. After completing primary education, I joined Kiraeni Mission Girls Boarding Secondary School from 1987 to 1990.

In 1991, I joined Mkwawa High School in Iringa Region. At the school the climate was very cold. I could not cope with the situation and was planning to go back home.

After I had been there for only four days I started to pack my things. Thank God, one of my roommates saw what I was doing and asked: ‘Lucy what are you doing?’ I replied that I was going home. She asked what was wrong and I said: ‘I can’t tolerate this climate so I have to go.’ I asked her how I was supposed to study in this situation. She tried to convince me to reverse the decision. It took two hours to convince me, by which time I began to understand what she was saying.

My friend decided to keep close to me all the time after classes, in order to make me happy and so that I did not think about the terrible climate. After a while I thanked her for the good intentions she showed me. I told her that if she had not encouraged me, I would have left the school.

From that day I learnt that there is no situation so difficult for a human being if he or she decides to overcome it. I completed an advanced level of education in 1993. A year later, I joined Monduli Teachers College where I obtained a diploma in education. I was then employed as a chemistry and biology teacher at Olaleni Private Secondary School in Moshi in 1995 and later at Kibasila Government Secondary School in Dar es Salaam in 1998.

As an employee, I started to feel that the salary I was getting was not enough to cater for all my needs. The situation forced me to look for extra income and I decided to join different women’s groups for this purpose. One of those was Ubhumwe Saccos of which I am a member and a loan officer.

In 2003, I decided to study further at the Institute of Social Work and ended up with an Advanced Diploma in Human Resource Management in 2006. In 2007 I got a job at the Tanzania Institute of Accountancy as a hostel janitor and worked hard enough to please the management and they decided to promote me to warden, which is the post I hold now. They also sponsored my Master’s degree in Public Administration at Mzumbe Dar es Salaam campus in 2012.

The skills and knowledge I have acquired have helped me to solve tough issues when handling student matters at the Institute. I could not have solved these without this knowledge. Being responsible for student affairs, I meet different people with different personalities and backgrounds which helps me to have new innovative ideas both socially and economically. In this way I got the idea of starting an enterprise which supplies school stationary, laboratory equipment and chemicals, and building materials because the Institute provides Procurement and Logistic Management as one of its core courses. I registered Furaki Enterprises in 2010 and it is doing well. Ubhumwe Saccos gave me the capital to run the enterprise and the profit I make has enabled me to build a modern house and pay school fees for my four children.

Ubhumwe SACCOS was initiated by women members only. Due to all the achievements realised by family members, especially the husbands of the women members, they were the first to be motivated to join the organisation.

There were only 15 founder members when Ubhumwe SACCOS was established in 2002. They were all women. Three years later, five men, all of them husbands of some of the 15 women founder members were motivated to join the organisation. In 2010 seven more men joined the organisation. Currently, there are 12 men in the organisation.

Being a woman loan officer with Ubhumwe SACCOS is evidence that men and women can all perform well. I have learned that there is nothing impossible, whether you are a woman or a man, what matters most is knowing who you are, what your aims are, where you are and how to go about thigs.


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