Njombe’s Economic Might: The “Little Israel” of Tanzania

By Neema Munisi, KilimoKwanza.org

Njombe, a seemingly small and quiet region in Tanzania, surprisingly holds a significant position in the nation’s economic fabric. Dubbed the “Little Israel” by its admirers, this region stands as a testament to the saying, “don’t judge a book by its cover.”

Njombe’s Regional Commissioner, Hon. Anthony Mtaka, recently shed light on the region’s economic vitality and its invaluable contribution to Tanzania’s broader economic landscape.

“No, we’re not lacking people. The logic is simple,” he began, asserting the area’s quiet prowess. “Firstly, Njombe is a region with a very small population. But it’s among the regions that produce a lot of food, the big Five (5). When you look at economic research, Njombe is among the regions where individual income is very high.”

According to Hon. Mtaka, the people of Njombe have a unique work ethic. This region, lesser-known for its size and population, punches well above its weight when it comes to contributing to Tanzania’s economy.

“This is a place where if you go to interview a motorcycle taxi driver – youth (bodaboda), you’ll find they own an avocado farm or a tree farm and other crops farms,” Mtaka elaborated. “Everyone here has work to do.”

Hon. Mtaka drew parallels between Njombe and global powerhouses like Israel and Rwanda, both renowned for making impressive strides despite their smaller sizes.

“You take Njombe in its smallness, as you can say the Little Israel; is Israel a big country? It’s just a small country in terms of population and size but they do wonders. Is Rwanda big? Rwanda here has pushed past many countries with larger populations,” he mused.

Njombe’s secret, Hon. Mtaka explained, lies in its community. It is among 5 communities significantly contribute to Tanzania’s private sector. These are Wakinga, Wachaga, Waha, Wanyantuzu, and Wapemba; “If you go to Kariakoo and tell these five groups to leave, you will shut it down,” Hon. Mtaka stated emphatically. He highlighted the integrated nature of Njombe’s people in the national economy, demonstrating their influence.

He also emphasized the region’s potential and the opportunities that lie therein. The people of Njombe, despite their success, continue to push the boundaries. Many, once they find success in the private sector, branch out and contribute to other regions, significantly impacting the nation’s economic dynamics.

“Njombe’s private sector is active in many areas,” Mtaka pointed out. “And if you research, in any bustling commercial region, you’ll find a Mkinga, and the community itself, the Wabena, and others.”

The Regional Commissioner stressed the need to harness this potential and guide it in a direction beneficial for the whole nation.

“For us as regional leaders, it’s about shaping according to our region’s population to be able to do many big things that can help the country,” he proclaimed.

The story of Njombe is a powerful reminder that greatness doesn’t always come in large packages. Sometimes, the most significant impact arises from the most unsuspecting places. And in Tanzania, Njombe is that unsuspecting powerhouse, continually driving the nation forward

+Neema Munisi is a leading expert in agribusiness and gender-focused food systems. She is also a trainer on business-related topics. For consultancy, write to her. Email: neema.munisi80@gmail.com