Influence of Informal Finance on Mothers’ Healthcare in Mtwara, Tanzania
This research explored the influence of informal finance on mothers‟ healthcare in Mtwara-Mikindani in Tanzania. Informal financial institutions (IFIs) are meant to assist in solving financial problems of members after their full participation in regular contributions, meetings and repayment of the loaned amount. In Mtwara-Mikindani, women engage in informal groups that supplement their financial ability and boost their socioeconomic developments. However, they face financial constraints during the maternal period. This research therefore sought to determine the role of informal financial institutions in alleviating financial constraints. Objectives of this study were: to identify the financial problems that mothers undergo during the maternal period, identify factors responsible for these financial problems, investigate the role of informal financial institutions in alleviating the problems and suggesting appropriate schemes suitable for informal financial institutions that cater for mothers. The Women Empowerment Framework guided this study. The study took a descriptive design in Mtwara-Mikindani in Tanzania covering mothers in informal financial institutions using both qualitative and quantitative approaches. Findings from this study show that most women are involved in small and medium enterprises that are domestic related and are actively involved in informal financial institutions to boost their financial capacity. Household expenditure, medical and education expenses are found to be the most common financial constraints during the maternal period caused by low productivity, low businesses performance and emerging maternal costs. Informal financial institutions are supportive economically and socially to the mothers during this period. However, the contributions are not adequate to cover maternal health costs thereby creating financial constraints. The study recommends that mothers should be aware of the maternal period and should prepare for it financially and socially IFIs should create awareness of maternal the period through maternal trainings and financial trainings. This study is an important additional knowledge in this gender field concerning financial institutions and addressing their role in alleviating maternal financial challenges that would improve the socioeconomic development in a nation.