Interview with TechnoServe – Strengthening Rural Youth Development through Enterprise

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Published on 06 February 2019
4 min. read

Since 1968, TechnoServe has been working with enterprising people in the developing world to build competitive firms, businesses and industries in 29 developing countries. With 25 years’ experience in Tanzania, TechnoServe shared with us their view on the Tanzanian education system and their
complementary role in training and educating the young population around the country. 

Can you tell us about TechnoServe’s STRYDE (Strengthening Rural Youth
Development through Enterprise) Program? What distinguishes this program from other training and education pathways?

To give you a brief overview, the education system in Tanzania is split into two streams:

  1. The conventional primary school, high school and university pathway; and
  2. Primary school followed by Vocational Education and Training pathway.

The Vocational Education and Training Authority (VETA) provides short courses and life-skills education to help students become independent workers. With our STRYDE program we implement an independent curriculum to provide life-skills training along with entrepreneurial skills, self-efficacy training and financial clinics. STRYDE works closely with youths living in rural areas, constantly supporting them through their journey of starting their own projects and working together with others to become independent workers. Through financial clinics we provide opportunities for young entrepreneurs to gather funding for their projects and budding start-ups. We also invite various companies, like Azuri and Mobisol in the solar sector, to provide employment opportunities to our students through the medium of financial clinics. No curriculum in Tanzania realises the importance of delivering soft-skills or instilling confidence amongst youngsters to make them capable of developing entrepreneurial instincts. With STRYDE, we are trying to address this gap in the education system by fostering an entrepreneurial attitude and mind-set in youngsters to help them develop thriving businesses. We have also started working with VETA to provide some of our courses as a part of their training.

What are the specific market gaps that TechnoServe has identified as potential ventures for students to work on? How do you help your students address these gaps?

“Our mission is to work with enterprising people to build competitive firms as an avenue for addressing poverty. So, we bring in capacity building, open up markets for the poor and strengthen institutions that can support agribusinesses.”

Monsiapile Kajimbwa, Country Manager, TechnoServe

Agriculture has been one of the main occupations of the majority of the rural population in Tanzania. To give you an example of a market gap, in semi-arid regions of Tanzania, sunflowers can ideally be grown and harvested three times a year. However, due to outdated agricultural practices, unawareness and unavailability of proper irrigation technologies, resource utilisation hasn’t been optimised. For instance, digging bore-wells as shallow as 50 metres, would provide sufficient water to irrigate their farmlands for three sunflower harvests a year. TechnoServe steps in at such situations to provide the relevant education and technology to help people make the most of the resources that could easily be available to them.

You mentioned irrigation technologies – have solar pumps been one such
technology that contributes to your activities? Does novel technology play a
role in your activities?

For the sunflower sector, solar-pumps for irrigation would indeed be the most logical and economical solution. We would like to partner with solar companies to make this technology available in rural areas. Novel technologies with affordable prices are fundamental for developing new industries in this country.
For example, Tanzania is second to Ethiopia in livestock population and, hence, has a huge potential for providing milk and other dairy products. Milk production is currently scattered in remote and rural locations, and connecting milk processing farms on the national electricity grid is a big challenge. If we could devise economical off-grid solar-powered refrigeration solutions, a new industry of quality dairy products could be set up! At TechnoServe, we work closely with developers of state-of-the-art, impactful technologies to ensure the students enrolled in our STRYDE program are prepared to work at the forefront of different industries.

Through us, students from the University of Cambridge, what message would you like to send to the University in order to be able to contribute to your work?

We are very open to working with state-of-the-art technology developers and laboratories. We constantly help farmers gain access to advanced drip-irrigation facilities to help them with their agricultural activities. We also work with universities here to collect real-time data using drones, which helps farmers understand the condition of their field and quality of the soil on crop yield. Furthermore, by involving farmers in the design process and in drone operating, they can help us devise accurate methodologies for irrigation and for improving the quality of our produce. It’s a pilot project that we are working on at the moment. But with that I want to say that we are very open to provide field-trials to any technologies that are being developed including solar pumps for irrigation.

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