It is always good to cultivate skills among the young generation in order for them to master different ways of navigating through life and their surroundings when they become adults. Nurturing job and entrepreneurial skills to youth helps them become competent and helps them make right choices in the future on which career path they would want to take and in turn succeed in achieving whatever goals they have in mind.
This vision is shared by Junior Achievement Tanzania (JAT), a non-governmental organization under their programme dubbed “ITS TYME”- Immersion Training Strategies Targeting Young Marginalised Youth. In partnership with CitiBank, JAT has managed to impart entrepreneurial and financial skills to 500 youth in Iringa Region.
Founded by CitiBank Foundation, the four-month programme, which was launched in February this year, aims at reaching youth groups in Iringa rural that engage in farming (Mushroom cultivation) and small and medium scale enterprises like manufacturing paper charcoal, clay stoves, candles by using wax, making leather shoes and flower vessels plus table mats, washing powder, without forgetting batik cloths as well as bee keeping activities.
It provides an opportunity to participants to exhibit their innovations. Youth with good business ideas were not left behind. They were helped with different ways to expand their ideas.
Christine Mfyate, one of the beneficiaries of the programme expressed her optimism that skills which participants learnt, including how to plan, prepare and look for marketing and record keeping, would have a very positive impact in their day to day work as young entrepreneurs.
“During the programme, our group came up with a yoghurt business. We competed against other groups and we won and were awarded Sh450, 000. Since then, we have been making yoghurt and selling it at Sh500 a cup. We make Sh30,000 per day. Apart from the group business, I managed to establish my own petty business, selling fruits,” said Christine from Ismani village.
Elizabeth Ngewe, also a participant from Kaning’ombe village said since she joined “ITS TYME” programme, she has leant how to navigate into her vulnerable life in order to stay safe and successful. According to her, the trainings have helped her to find position as a youth in bringing development to her community.
“Now I know what to do and value my time instead of just staying at home. I also leant about entrepreneurship, skills which helped me identify and explore several opportunities in my village that I can utilise and earn money. Apart from that I learnt about having discipline in spending money and the importance of saving. For a start, we have two businesses in our group, we make Batik and produce baskets,” she added.
Another participant Alfred Mafuga said he learnt how to find a suitable business idea, how to raise capital for his business and how to keep savings for future use. “This programme has broadened my thinking capacity in business and social life. I learnt how to work in a team/group. Not only that but also I know how to address my challenges in a good way. Above all I have managed to have my own business, I supply soft drinks and I will make sure my business grows,” he said.
Youth can experience fulfillment if given the opportunity to make an important impact in their community. Through these training and activities, youth have recognised the role they play in making the society a better place.
For Aron Thomas, one of the beneficiaries and a chairman of JA Tanzania club at Kaning’ombe Village, Masaka Ward, he said before he joined the programme, he used to stay at home doing nothing. But since he joined JA classes, he realised his potential.
“The trainings helped me and of course through the training I see many and different opportunities in my village,” he noted.
Iringa District Commissioner Richard Kasesela highly praised the youth for being part of the important programme which goes along with the national strategy on youth empowerment, employment creation and poverty eradication among Tanzanian youth.
“Youth are given ownership of their enterprise and the opportunity to make their own decisions on sales, promotion and marketing, how they farm, and on business ethics. Above all those who participated in this programme are offered training to become entrepreneurs,” he said when addressing a brief graduation ceremony for the participants at Siasa ni Kilimo Hall in Iringa recently.
He also commended Citi Bank for supporting JA Tanzania, which eventually reached such a considerable number of youth in Iringa. The DC urged Citi Bank Tanzania Director to continue funding such programmes to support the government initiative in improving the well being of its people.
He also urged public institutions such as the Small Industries Development Organization (Sido), Tanzania Food and Drug Authority (TFDA) and Tanzania Bureau of Standards (TBS) to develop such a programme in order to help youth improve their products so that they can meet international standards and reach foreign markets.
On the other hand, Citi Bank Tanzania managing director Joseph Carosso, said working with the Iringa District authorities as partner has made it possible for the organisation to provide training to 500 youth (30 groups), formation and registration of 132 new business, 315 business improved and formation of 100 active saving groups.
“Some 65 youth owned business have emerged, four village government have set aside 20 hectares each for youth projects and about Sh2, 592,000 was mobilised by the youth as a start-up capital to their business ideas. All these became possible due to the programme. This is a remarkable achievement and our company will continue funding youth initiatives in partnership with JA Tanzania,” he said.
JA Tanzania executive director Hamis Kasongo said the youth training had five stages, which together contributes towards the greater achievement accomplished under the programme.
According to him, the programme involves training 13 community development officers from Iringa rural who became facilitators to support the training. Through them, he said 23 villages were reached, and 33 youth registered group were formed.
“This achievement went hand in hand with JA Global slogans of “empowering young people to own their economic success”, he added.
He commended Sido for accepting the youth in the programme to do their practical training at their facilities in Iringa. “This process added value to the programme and to the youth themselves,” he noted.
He said that as they complete first phase of the training, it gives them an opportunity to reach 300 other youth in the next phase that is expected to start this month (July) and ends in December.
According to Kasongo, despite of the benefits the youth have received from the organisation, they face a myriad of challenges. “For the past three months it was rainy season in Iringa. This was a period where participants spent most of their time in farming activities. We faced difficulties in nearly all villages we passed through.
We were supposed to wait for the participants to mobilise themselves so that we can start the training and this took more than one hour. To make the programme, more convenient we are planning to start the training during dry seasons,” added Kasongo.
Apart from that the two monitoring days for the JA staffs were not enough and sufficient to do thorough monitoring since it is a very short time so it’s been recommend that they increase more days to monitor youth.