The Mama Lishe establishments serve as one of the largest sources of employment for women in the informal sector. Like other women, they are then able to contribute significantly to the capacity of the male members of their households to function effectively in the labour force. Women undertake Mama Lishe activities to supplement household income to meet family needs, the income generated from women income generated activities in most cases is small, but it plays a significant role in buying clothes for babies and children, paying school fees and health care.
But who are the unsung heroes behind these bustling Mama Lishe restaurants?
Mama Lishe, often also referred to as Mama Ntilie, is a common phenomenon in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. Originating from Swahili, Tanzania’s national language, Mama Lishe loosely translated can mean “mother nutrition,” and Mama Ntilie on the other hand, can be interpreted as “mother pour me some or put some for me.” We assure you, that as you go about your daily businesses, whatever those may be, you will without a doubt, cross paths with a Mama Lishe establishment. What is a “Mama Lishe establishment?” These are ragged shacks built by the side of the road, using used timber for roofing, old metal sheets for a rough and unsteady structure, and the ground itself for flooring. They are roadside sheds where women of all ages, cook meals and sell them to passing by strangers.
And why delve so deeply into the Mama Lishe establishments?
Findings from a study done by The Sokoine University in Morogoro Tanzania indicate that 57.8% of respondents contributed between 3,000 – 4,000 Tshs and food from their business per day to the household, 22.2% of respondents contributed between 5,000 – 6,000 Tshs and food per day, 15.6% of respondents contributed between 1,000 – 2,000 Tshs and food per day, 1.1% of respondents contributed between 7,000 – 8,000 Tshs and food per day and 3.3% of respondents contributed food only from their business to the household.
It was also noted that the very same Mama Lishe establishments have an important contribution to the household; and that the generated income from these business helps the household to buy and pay for their different needs. However, one key resource is essential in keeping the Mama Lishe establishment running: energy.
In the process of preparing the meals that generate income for Mama Lishe establishments, firewood is commonly utilized as a primary source of energy. Unfortunately, considering the substantial number of these establishments across Tanzania, this practice poses a significant threat to deforestation and environmental degradation.
And this is where UNDP’s FUNGUO Innovation Programme investee, GasFasta, comes into play. GasFasta is an on-demand cooking gas distribution service platform with the vision of providing cooking gas accessibility to East African community by facilitating low prices, fast delivery and easy shopping.
“Before GasFasta,” says Mariam Hassan, a Mama Lishe establishment in Kariakoo Dar-es-Salaam, “all I used was firewood. However, after the introduction of GasFasta, ordering cooking gas has become a more convenient and environment friendly option. I even urge all other Mama Lishe’s to use GasFasta.”
By providing a reliable alternative to firewood for small businesses, GasFasta can significantly contribute to reducing the use of firewood and, consequently, the need for tree cutting. This shift towards cooking gas as a fuel source not only promotes environmental sustainability but also mitigates deforestation and the associated environmental degradation. Through their efficient and accessible service, GasFasta empowers small businesses to adopt cleaner energy solutions, fostering a greener and more sustainable future for the region.