Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Youth given platform to pitch ideas


By By Esther Kibakaya ekibakaya@tz.nationmedia.com

University students last week had an opportunity to pitch their business ideas to a panel of judges and the winner had a chance to receive a prize following their best ideas submitted. Prizes included investment and an opportunity for incubation.

The participants showcased their ideas and were asked one-on-one questions.

The event which brought together various professionals, government officials, friends and family of the participants, and other investors was organised by Cambridge Development Initiative (CDI). They collaborated with University of Dar es salaam in a project called DAREnterprisers course targeting brightest young Tanzanian entrepreneurs for business and entrepreneurship. They take them for eight weeks training, then give them opportunity to pitch ideas. They then present their ideas at the Investment Conference, a platform they use to leap into transforming Tanzania.

This year’s conference theme was ‘TengenezaTanzania Together’ loosely translated to Building Tanzania together which reflected the expectations of the course which is to inspire fundamental change and innovation for the whole nation.

A team of four graduates named Regina Kwisakwani, Evans Songa, Nelson Villema and Mapesa Luhasile took home $1000 following their exceptional business idea this year.

Focused on Water, Sanitation and Hygiene category, their idea aimed at providing solution to plastic bags waste which has become one of the biggest environmental problems in big cities across the world.

Their business ideas which is under Revol-Age Company Ltd , introduced eco–friendly, health and biodegradable paper bags of varying sizes.

Their idea is expected to provide an alternative means of packaging to the existing solution therefore reducing the amount of plastic waste scattered in cities.

The program brought together students from University of Dar es Salaam (UDSM), Ardhi University, University of Arusha and National Institute of Transportation (NIT).

This years’ conference focused on the positive change young entrepreneurs can have in Tanzania. It challenges participants of DAREnterprisers, to tackle community problems within Water, Sanitation & Hygiene, Off-grid energy, and Manufacturing & Urban Living.

Ruge Mutahaba from Clouds Media Group, who was the guest speaker said such programs aimed to bring out innovative ideas from young super innovators in Tanzania. One of the biggest challenges that youth need to face and tackle is that they need to look at the local challenges in a global perspective so that they can come up with innovative global solutions to solve such challenges.

I have been going around the country for the past five years to talk about opportunities and things that young people can do and try to connect the dots in different areas. But one thing I would love to advice the youth is that, they need to understand the market ,what the world wants and what the world is currently try to solve.

If you find solutions to global problems then you can proudly find being part of the people who help in the society we live in and this programme is the right way to go,” he advices.

He went further saying more efforts are needed to encourage youth to come up with ways to stimulate the economy by coming up with more ideas that can create more employment opportunities.

He said the only way to become the middle class income nation is by making youth business owners instead of waiting for the government to do everything.

On her part, Regina Kwisakwani, a University of Dar es Salaam graduate in Bachelor of science in Chemical processing engineering said her engagement to program has helped her showcase her abilities in making different programs and innovate various products using technology.

“The experience has been great because at first, I didn’t know that I could make paper bags through recycling materials, this is impressive and am very proud that am part of initiative to preserve our environment by helping getting rid of plastic bags.”

This is one of the greatest opportunity for young men and women out there to create a way of employing themselves using something that their hands are capable of making. You cannot recognise the power that you have unless you train your mind to think more on what you can do with your ability,” explains Regina.

Mapesa Kamisa, also a university of Dar es Salaam graduate said he applied for the course and so far it has been a fruitful training especially for him as a graduate because since there is unemployment crisis in our country. He said the training gave him an opportunity to learn things that he was not able to learn while in college.

“Apart from acquiring new skills and practicing them, and also meeting new people and a team of incubators who have mentored us creatively, this program actually showed us the reality of what is happening in our society and how to turn challenges into opportunities. I wish more youth out there would be given opportunity to benefit from program such as this one,” he noted.

Engineer Kalumuna Benedicto, from Small Industrial Development Organisation (SIDO) said having program such as these one can help shape people’s mind particular youth psychologically.

“It prepares them psychologically than to start an industry, you don’t need people to come from abroad who have a lot of money to do that, instead youth can start while they are still in school to start their own business projects and the good thing is they can come up with ideas that reflect their environment and most of these projects can last for a long time. Its high time that the government start to invest by finding better ways in assisting in loans because someone might have a good idea but he or she can fail to implement it since they don’t have capital,” advises the engineer.

Glory Nyengela who was the program director said the eight week training that university students met at the University of Dar es Salaam and learnt about entrepreneurship targeted active students with business acumen, allocate seed funding, and support them and their businesses throughout and after the completion of the course.

“We aimed at helping participants develop transferable skills, build confidence and provide them with a worthwhile experience that sets them up for future career opportunities. We achieved these goals through classroom sessions taught by Cambridge and Tanzanian students, as well as peer-to-peer learning, and mentorship and collaboration with local incubators and investors,” she said.