OYE boot camp grand prizes help youth grow their businesses
In September 2016, the Opportunities for Youth Employment (OYE) project in Tanzania, funded by Mastercard Foundation, organised a boot camp. The four-day event brought together ambitious OYE-trained entrepreneurs and alllowed them to exchange experiences and challenges. The participants also competed for two grand prizes, reserved for the young entrepreneurs with the best business plans.
The prizes consisted of business toolkits worth 1 million TZS (450 USD) each, one for the Energy sector and one for the Agriculture sector, aiming to support young entrepreneurs in growing their businesses. The jury panel included a member of the OYE Advisory board, managers of several partner companies and representatives of financial institutions. The panel's feedback gave participants more insight into their businesses and ideas for how to expand them.
The grand prize winners were Happiness in the Energy sector and Hamad in the Agriculture sector. Below they tell us how they intend to use their toolkits.
The 2017 edition of the OYE Boot Camp is slated to take place from May to August.
The cash prize in the Energy sector was awarded to 24 year-old Happiness from the Morogoro region. Happiness was chosen based on her excellent business plan. During the boot camp, facilitators sent the participating entrepreneurs to Happiness’ home town to conduct market research for their respective products. “It was then that I realised I had to consider many factors and began to integrate these ideas into my business plan,” she said.
Before she joined the project, Happiness was unemployed like many other young people in her home town, despite having finished secondary school. “I did not want to stay idle, so I began selling pancakes and tomatoes near my home”, she said, adding that these small trades had their challenges. In 2015, when she heard an announcement from the village leader about the OYE programme, Happiness decided to join. “I went to register for the programme in Morogoro and soon was invited to attend the basic life skills training. After that, we received technical training on the production of efficient charcoal cookstoves. We were also coached on how to create a business plan.” said the confident young woman.
Soon after completing the training, Happiness started an “improved cookstoves” business despite lacking the proper tools to mould them. "I did not let that stop me; I would buy parts and mould the clay body of the stoves myself”. Her emerging business happened to respond to a small, yet promising market segment in the area where she lives and works.
During the boot camp Happiness presented her ambition to start an enterprise for mass production of improved cookstoves. The judges praised her proposal and awarded her the prize to help her realise her business aspirations. She was over the moon after the award ceremony. “OYE has opened the way for me to fulfil my dream of owning and running my own business”. Happiness has become an inspiration for her four siblings and peers. “I would advise other youth to be in the frontline and build the economy, no matter what we find to do, let's do our best”. She plans to start an improved cookstove workshop and employ other young people.
The winner of the grand prize in the agriculture sector is 21 year-old Hamad Mkuki, a shoemaker from Dodoma.
The young man joined the SNV OYE programme in 2015. During the technical training in animal husbandry, Hamad was exposed to various activities along the animal husbandry value chain; from feeding cattle, dairy production and slaughtering to dressing animal carcasses for the market and leather processing. The use of leather to make accessories like shoes and belts piqued his interest, and soon a business idea began to blossom in his mind.
During the boot camp, Hamad presented his business plan to create a leather processing enterprise that he had been dreaming about but lacked the funding to realise. After winning, an excited Hamad expressed his gratitude and disclosed how he intends to use the prize. “I am grateful to have won. I plan to start a workshop. I will also open a shop to display my shoes”. Hamad is not only looking to advance his own interest. “I want to use the prize to start a factory that employs others who are unemployed, so that I can help reduce the local unemployment, and help young people have a better life. My factory will employ five more staff in addition to the three that I have trained already.”