SEE Africa is a Mozilla Common Voice awardee. The organization’s Africa Director and Project Lead, Rahma Mkai, told us about “Kiazi Bora,” a voice app that helps women in rural Tanzania learn how to grow and sell a powerhouse potato, boosting their nutrition, earning potential, and status as more equal members of society

SEE Africa
The Kiazi Bora team, from left to right: Rajabu Njau (Logistics Office), Neema Mturi (Kiswahili Content Provider,Tumaini University) Dina Moses (Agriculture and Nutrition Officer), Rahma Mkai (Director), and John Aden (Project Manager). Additional team member Neema Mduma, App Developer, is not pictured.
  • Orange-fleshed sweet potatoes (OFSPs) are an overlooked crop with the potential to become a staple source of nutrition and income for rural households, of which women are the bedrock workers

  • SEE Africa created a user-friendly, voice-enabled app, “Kiazi Bora,” (“quality potatoes” in Kiswahili) that gives women in rural areas farming tips, market availability data, and nutritional information about OFSPs

  • The app is accessible by all, regardless of literacy level. This is important because Tanzania has a 22.4% national illiteracy rate among those age 15 and older, with higher rates of illiteracy among women in rural areas

The Issue

In Tanzania, older men are the primary decision-makers in households and local communities. SEE Africa’s work is focused on giving women, youth, and children more of a voice in social, cultural, and financial matters. While Tanzania has made steady progress in improving literacy rates and access to education overall, illiteracy is still higher among women who are based in rural areas and often poorer by income terms. SEE Africa identified the life-changing potential of helping the poorest households – which can’t afford to buy fortified foods and rely heavily on homegrown staples – to grow and sell their own OFSPs. But many vulnerable women and young women, especially those with lower literacy, lack the basic information they need to be able to successfully produce the crop.

The Approach

SEE Africa created a user-friendly, voice enabled mobile app that provides vital information in Kiswahili needed to grow, use, and sell OFSPs. The organization has reached 300 women from rural villages throughout Northern Tanzania, training them to use the app. At the start of the project, 75% of the women didn’t know how to use smart phones, so staff first trained them on the devices. The app includes information on nutritional values of OFSPs, the best natural pesticides to use, and where and how to sell raw OFSP products to bolster household incomes. In addition to the technical training and information Kiazi Bora provides, SEE Africa also presented public forums and discussions to show that rather than threatening men’s dominance, uplifting and educating women ultimately benefits the entire community.

SEE Africa is one of eight grantees in Mozilla’s 2023 - 24 CV Kiswahili program. The program funds projects leveraging the Kiswahili language and voice technology to increase social and economic opportunities for marginalized groups in Kenya, Tanzania, and the Kiswahili-speaking Democratic Republic of Congo. These grants are supported by the Gates Foundation in collaboration with the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) and the German development agency GIZ, as a response to a gender-conscious and community-centered approach to tech development. With Mozilla’s funding, SEE Africa not only developed and launched the app, but it also set up 10 women-led “business processing units” — groups where farmers were taught to turn OFSPs into flour, pastries, and other forms that would generate income. There is enough support and buy-in around the app that some of Kiazi Bora’s first users have become trainers themselves.

Project Lead Rahma Mkai knows firsthand how crucial access to information can be, especially to women in marginalized communities. Mkai was raised by a single mother and saw how she struggled to make ends meet, watching jobs she was qualified for go to men instead. “I recall the times when she had to leave us to be raised with our relatives as she traveled to look for income,” Mkai said. “Despite the challenges, she made sure we went to school, and when I graduated from college, I devoted my life to empower women. Women are the backbone of the economy in every country, yet they primarily work in farms and industries as cheap laborers or in offices as secretaries and janitors. But when they’re informed, empowered, and educated, they change their communities and eventually improve everyone’s lives,” Mkai said.

What Does Success Look Like?

“We will know our work is done when women have fair access to all matters pertaining to development, when their voices will be heard and respected, and when their communities will regard them as reliable key change agents,” Mkai said.


Bibi Titi Mohammed is a hero and an inspiration to me because she is the first Tanzanian woman to be publicly recognized as a politician and as an activist. She was considered a freedom fighter and supported the first president of Tanzania, Julius Nyerere, to lobby for the independence of Tanzania. Bibi Titi Mohammed was a member of the Tanganyika African National Union (TANU), the party that fought for the independence of Tanzania, and held various ministerial positions. At that time in history, women faced discrimination and were never considered to hold positions of power, but she did. She was sentenced for treason in October 1969 and, after two years in prison, received a presidential pardon.

She remains a hero and an inspiration to me because women continue to be discriminated against, undermined, and underrepresented even today. But just as Bibi Titi Mohammed did, women can still rise up and make the difference they would like to see in their communities despite the same challenges facing them today.”

Mkai’s Three Most Beautiful Words in Kiswahili

Amani - Peace

Tumaini - Hope

Upendo - Love

In Their Own Words - Testimonials

"In my many years as a civil servant, I've always seen women lagging

behind men in nearly everything. The Kiazi Bora Project has proven to us

all that when women are empowered they can contribute to community

development. Women are now generating a substantial amount to our

community's income, our children can now access nutritious OFSP porridge

at home, and the community is healing the gender divide that segregated

women for many years. This project has shed a ray of hope that women

empowerment interventions are adaptable, replicable and sustainable.”

- Bakari Shabani, Maroroni ward Chairman

"Looking back before the project, I could hardly earn enough to support

my family. But now my life has changed. My children can access three

nutritious meals a day, I have joined a local VICOBA group (Village

Community Banking) and I have established an OFSP farm near my home. I

express my sincere appreciation for being part of the Kiazi Bora project

and I feel a sense of responsibility on my shoulders to share this

blessing by educating and uplifting other women going through poverty."

- Eshimuni, OFSP group member

Planting Orange-Fleshed Sweet Potato (OFSP) vines under Kiazi Bora’s program in Maroroni ward, Arusha, Tanzania.
Planting Orange-Fleshed Sweet Potato (OFSP) vines under Kiazi Bora’s program in Maroroni ward, Arusha, Tanzania.