Asylum Access Refugee Livelihoods

Starting from scratch: how Isaac became a businessman

Before he obtained his peasant permit, Isaac had nothing to prove he had legal status in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. Afraid to travel around the city for fear of arrest or detention, it was difficult to secure a job, let alone begin to rebuild his life after fleeing the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

“After I received news about the issuing of peasant permits and that AATZ was helping people with half [the] fee, I was very much thrilled and applied for the permit.”

When Isaac found out about the peasant permit, he approached AATZ for help in preparing the paperwork to acquire the document. After obtaining the permit, he found a job working as a cleaner.

Formerly a truck driver, Isaac aspired to accomplish more and with a few of his fellow workers, he began to participate in a lending group, or mchezo, in Swahili. Every month, each member would contribute TZS 90,000 (roughly $53) and one person would receive TZS 600,000 ($352).

When it was Isaac’s turn, he took the money and invested in a mobile phone business, buying a few phones and selling them on credit around Dar es Salaam. As his capital increased, he was able to start selling in other locations.

Today, Isaac has expanded his mobile phone business and owns three M-pesa (mobile money transfer) shops as well as motorcycle taxi. With his peasant permit, Isaac was able to obtain a business license, open bank accounts to manage his earnings, and get his driver’s license.

By Asylum Access Tanzania Community Empowerment and Outreach Coordinator Nondo Nobel