Liquid Gold: African Joy Tackles Barriers Facing Women Dairy Farmers in Tanzania

A woman holds a container of African Joy milk in Tanzania.
Joy Jillian Joseph displays an African Joy dairy product at the company's production facility.

In Arusha, Tanzania, Editha can be found collecting and selling raw milk from her dairy cow every day. Although she has always had plenty of buyers for her milk, in the past, she was rarely paid on time. Without a regular, guaranteed income, Editha struggled to consistently support herself and her family.

While Tanzania has made strides toward expanding women’s economic opportunities, obstacles remain for women like Editha to realize full economic inclusion. Among these, women struggle to access agricultural inputs and face financial exclusion due to insufficient funds, lack of documentation, and limited access to financial services. Increasing women’s use of agricultural inputs and ensuring they are financially included are some of the key recommendations made by the World Bank to address existing gender disparities.   

African Joy tackles gender inequality in the dairy industry

Cultured milk from African Joy.

In Tanzania’s dairy industry, African Joy was created as a dairy processing company that partners with women to address these gendered challenges. As a small team of nine, African Joy works with dairy farmers – many of whom are women – to collect milk and then process it into cultured milk, yogurt, butter, and ghee to sell locally to women vendors in Arusha. The business has now created a reliable bridge between women dairy producers and local vendors.

With support from MEDA, African Joy has helped to scale up the milk production of dairy farmers in the region. A growing network of collection centers with cooling tanks have been set up closer to the homes of dairy producers. This helps to avoid milk spoilage and loss that often result from traveling the treacherous roads dairy farmers must use to visit the main production facility.

To support income stability, African Joy provides a guaranteed payment to suppliers every 15 days. Recognizing the barriers women face in accessing financial services, they also established a women’s group in Arusha for women to lend and borrow money among themselves. African Joy plays an additional role in the group by lending money to women and allowing them to make payments in the currency of milk instead of cash.

“We are here to help each other, but especially to help dairy women, especially in this male-dominated industry,” shares Joy Jillian Joseph, Managing Director of African Joy. “We help them to reach markets, we help them to be sure of money at the end of the month, to help their families.”

Closing the gender gap to alleviate poverty

Today, Editha has purchased another cow for her farm – doubling her production from five liters to between 10 to 12 liters. Through her connection to African Joy, she can rely on her payments every 15 days. She also has access to the women’s group to borrow money for her business when needed.

Agribusinesses have enormous potential in Tanzania — and bridging the gender gap in agricultural productivity in the country could lift 80,000 people out of poverty every year. Addressing challenges women like Editha face is a proven opportunity to help advance gender equality, alleviate poverty, and advance economic growth. 

African Joy now has a core team of nine employees working with women dairy farmers and vendors.

In partnership with the Government of Canada, MEDA’s Feminist Entrepreneurs Growing Green Economies (FEGGE) project is building an improved business-enabling environment and facilitation of opportunities for women-owned businesses in Tanzania. FEGGE works with small and medium-sized enterprises and small entrepreneurs like African Joy in the dryland and semi-arid regions of the country.

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  • MEDA (Mennonite Economic Development Associates)

    MEDA is an international economic development organization that creates business solutions to poverty. We work in agri-food market systems, focusing primarily on women and youth in rural communities in the Global South. Our success is measured by income, improved processes, increased knowledge, and the creation of decent work.

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