Although Zanzibar is one of the most popular tourist spots in East Africa, the local communities on the island are quite poor. This is why VSO has taken the initiative to empower local communities on the island with skills to improve their well being and economic development. And to enable the locals to also benefit from the island’s popularity as a tourist destination.

One of the groups trained by VSO, a women’s group have been practicing what they were taught and have reaped some amazing benefits from selling fattened crabs to hotels on the island.

Crabs are quite popular with tourists and hotels have been importing them from the mainland, but this women’s group brought them closer to the Zanzibar hotel markets. The women’s group reached an agreement with some hotels to which they now supply.

The women buy small mud crabs from fishermen for as little as 500 shillings and then keep and rear them in crab pens close to the sea. The crabs are fed everyday for about six weeks and can grow big and weigh as heavy as 1 or 2 Kgs. After the fattening the crabs are then sold to hotels for up to 5000 shillings each. Which is very good business.

The women are very thankful and proud of their crab business project. Sada Juma, chairwoman of Kisakasaka Women’s Group, says the crabsbusiness has helped them send their children to school, buy medicine, and food for their households. They can now get credit because they have a source of income, so they can buy some very commodities on credit with the knowledge and assurance that they will be able to pay up soon. Not only is the fattened crab business financially profitable but it has brought this women together as a close neat community.

Crab fattening is just one project the women are working on in order to diversify their means of income. They are also producing soap, rearing chickens and making ornaments for Zanzibar’s tourists. These new projects are opening up their eyes to new possibilities, and ways to exploit the tourism market on the island.

VSO wants hotels to buy locally so that the island’s poorest communities can also benefit from the tourist industry. VSO has introduced the Kisakasaka Women’s Group to the Zanzibar Association of Tourism Investors (ZATI), an organization promoting sustainable tourism who can encourage its members – including many top hotels and restaurants – to buy their crabs from the group

Zanzibar is a holiday destination and a popular stop over for many tourists on Safaris in Tanzania. With all that tourist traffic the local communities should be able to benefit from the islands tourism if they continue to be innovative in business.