Liberty Sparks takes home 2023 Lights, Camera, Liberty Film Festival Award

Liberty Sparks LC Lwinner

Equipped with training, grant funding, and production support through Atlas Network’s Lights, Camera, Liberty program, partners from across the world have created compelling films on the issues that matter most to them. Each year, the program also names one organization as the recipient of the Lights, Camera, Liberty Award and its US$10,000 prize in recognition of its film’s stand-out quality and impact. At Liberty Forum & Freedom Dinner 2023, Tanzanian partner Liberty Sparks was named the winner of this year’s award.

Liberty Sparks’s film, The Winners, chronicles the journey of almost two dozen women entrepreneurs who are working together to raise their families out of poverty and their struggle to start successful businesses while navigating Tanzania’s complicated, expensive, and restrictive licensing system. These women work as a collective to support a variety of enterprises—such as producing food products and dyeing fabrics—to ensure each family can support themselves, send their children to school, obtain medical care, and more. Without government documentation and permission, however, their ability to distribute the products of their labor and grow their businesses is severely limited.

The story of these resourceful women calls attention to the policy reforms that Liberty Sparks encouraged the Tanzanian government to consider, and The Winners was an important part of the organization’s strategy to help pass those reforms. By framing policy issues in a personal way, Liberty Sparks was able to speak to lawmakers in a way that they would have found difficult if they had used a white paper alone. Their efforts were ultimately successful, and the government implemented a number of policy reforms in response. Most importantly, they made the business licensing process simpler and cheaper, while simultaneously lowering the tax burden on small entrepreneurs. In addition to policy success, The Winners helped raise Liberty Sparks’s profile in their community, helping cement their reputation as an organization dedicated to improving the lives of their fellow Tanzanians.