Tanzania is known for having Africa’s highest mountain peak, Mount Kilimanjaro, which attracts thousands of adventurous tourists every year. However, the country still struggles with widespread poverty, illness and injustice, particularly in remote areas. Curtin University alumna Charlotte Hopley decided to do something about it.
In 2013 Charlotte and her husband, Martin Hopley, started the not-for-profit organisation, Grassroots Tanzania with the intention of helping the poor and preventing environmental destruction in remote areas in Tanzania.
Although there are already a number of not-for-profit organisations in Tanzania, many don’t operate in remote areas where people are often struggling the most. Inaccessibility, isolation, language barriers and limited opportunities for education and employment mean people in these areas are often unseen by tourists and remain trapped in poverty.
Grassroots Tanzania seeks to create opportunities for these people in need through education, sustainability and employment.
“Tanzania’s environment is being destroyed at one of the fastest rates in the world but few [people realise] this,” Charlotte says.
“It is occurring in remote rural regions, where poverty is greatest, many are subsistence farmers (semi-nomadic people searching for land to farm) and some even resort to poaching to survive.
“Education, if it exists, is further challenged by lack of resources and government funding. This is not the wealthy tourist Tanzania.”
As one of the co-founders of Grassroots Tanzania, Charlotte plays a major role in many aspects of the organisation. With over 10 years experience in finance, qualifications as a CELTA teacher and a Masters in Business Administration from Curtin University under her belt, Charlotte takes care of the organisation’s strategy development, accounting and finance as well as fundraising activities that directly assist people in need.
“My city experience gave me finance knowledge and practical investment expertise, I also helped establish an investment firm so had previous experience establishing a new organisation,” she says.
“My Master of Business Administration gave me a tool-kit of essential knowledge, it’s helpful to have theoretical knowledge as well as the practical experience.”
Grassroots Tanzania, which functions out of a farm in Itumba Hill, Tanzania, assists villagers with a 1,800-acre property in the surrounding area and provides assistance to local schools by increasing awareness about the impact of environmental degradation through conservation and education programs.
“We strive to put an end to land degradation by delivering conservation and education programs to cultivate enduring self-reliance within remote communities in Tanzania,” Charlotte says.
In the future, Charlotte and her husband hope to replicate the established working model at Itumba Hill Singida throughout other remote areas in Tanzania.