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I used my pension to start a business

Ernestina is 88 and lives in Zanzibar. She decided to use her pension to start a business – selling juice to school kids. 

Ernestina juices fruit for her drinks, which she sells to schoolchildren.

Ernestina worked as a maid for most of her life - only stopping when she turned 81 years old. Now aged 88, she lives with one of her daughters and her three grandchildren. Although the family does not expect her to work, Ernestina chooses to run her own business because it keeps her busy.   

Ernestina was one of the first women in the country to receive a social pension when it was introduced in Zanzibar in April 2016. Zanzibar, a self-autonomous region of Tanzania, is the first place in East Africa to award a state pension – a monthly non-payment of 20,000 Tanzanian shillings (£6.70) - to everyone over the age of 70, regardless of whether they have been employed.

‘I make juice with mangoes, guava, oranges and shoki shoki,' Ernestina tells us 'I sell it to local schoolchildren.'  

Support from the pension has been vital to Ernestina's business. ‘Before I started receiving the pension, no one would lend me any money because they thought I wouldn't be able to pay them back,’ she explains.

'The business is going very well. Every month I make 40,000 Tanzanian shillings (£13.50) in profit and I am very happy with that.’

Ernestina mostly spends her money on her grandchildren - on their clothes and school fees.

‘If this pension was not given out, our lives would be harder,' she says. 'I would not be able to do what I am doing. I would be idle. Even my health would deteriorate.’

Who cares about older women's work?

Age International is examining older women's experiences of work - paid and unpaid - in poorer countries.

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Last updated: Nov 13 2018

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