The history of the Foundation for African Empowerment (FAE) traces back to the village of Makiba. In 1997, prior to joining university, Samwel Mfanga noted problems facing smallholder farmers at his home village of Makiba in Arusha, Tanzania.
As a volunteer, through the use of participatory approach, he successful organized farmers into a network popularly known as Traditional Farmers Group and coordinated their collaboration with the Center for International Tropical Agriculture and other stakeholders on beans research and production. In the period between 2001 and 2009, Mfanga was involved in public policy-oriented socioeconomic research at the Economic and Social Research Foundation and later the Young Citizens empowerment program under the Harvard Medical School, Harvard University where he gained a firsthand experience on how empowerment of young people can bring about transformational change in a society. He also gained an intimate knowledge on the realities of empowering the poor for sustainable development in the most impoverished rural communities in Africa. Furthermore, he learnt about the linkages between cycle of poverty and healthcare, water, education, livelihoods and environment. Where there is lack or less access to healthcare, water, education, livelihood opportunities and environmental conservation, it is hard for a community to break the cycle of poverty. It means poverty will be passed from one generation to another.
Mfanga was born and raised in a rural village of Makiba where he witnessed how difficult it was for the village to break the cycle of poverty without the right external intervention. His academic and professional experiences, and the levels of poverty in the rural Tanzanian communities inspired him to establish FAE in March 2016 in order to contribute towards breaking the cycle of poverty and empowering the poor to improve their own lives. He believes that an Integrated Development Approach is the key toward breaking the cycle of poverty in the rural communities and beginning a cycle of progress. Breaking the cycle of poverty begins with investing in the poor rural communities to ensure that they have improved access to quality healthcare, quality education, safe water, sustainable livelihoods and effective environmental conservation strategies.
Furthermore, Mfanga recognizes that breaking the cycle of poverty in the poor rural communities is complex and challenging. He is convinced that attaining the goal requires fostering and promoting effective collaborative partnerships between multiple partners including the poor themselves, private sector, local governments and development partners. He views empowerment and access to social services not only as a human right but also as the key instruments that will lead to positive sustainable development outcomes to impoverished rural communities. Part of his inspiration to work on poverty comes from the below words.
“Wherever men and women are condemned to live in extreme poverty, human rights are violated. To come together to ensure that these rights be respected is our solemn duty” –Joseph Wresinski
Mfanga was born and raised in Arusha, Tanzania. He and his wife have four children: Emily, Benedict, Gloriana and Anthony.They currently reside in Arusha.