Tanzania Daily News (Dar es Salaam)

28 October 2012

Tanzania: Giving a Helping Hand to Local Entreprenuers

"(A) MAN is developing himself when he grows, or earns, enough to provide a decent living for himself and his family; he is not being developed if someone gives him these things."

This is one unique quote from the founding father of the nation, Mwalimu Julius Nyerere in his book 'Uhuru na Maendeleo', in which he talks about development of the nation. Provision of a decent living for one's family is the top priority of most people. To achieve this, one must be earning a lot of money.

With the recent economical shakedown, which hit most countries globally, most people were affected financially, as governments struggled to keep their economies afloat in the midst of the financial storm. In Tanzania, the government made the good efforts to ensure that the country is not thrown into a major financial turmoil, but still, some of its citizens were affected.

Businesses and institutions were hit hard, and small entrepreneurs had to do all they could to survive, while others sadly collapsed along the way. In the aftershocks, life is slowly returning to normal. At times like these, any form of assistance to boost one's business is nothing short of a miracle.

Elizabeth Macha, a resident of Dar es Salaam, knows very well what it means to operate a small business under the strains of economical hardships, but with dedication and determination, she was able to pull through. Operating a small bakery, Elizabeth knew that for her business to grow further and be able to achieve her financial targets, more income was needed, and urgently.

Sitting with her friends one evening, she heard about a programme which aims at supporting small to medium entrepreneurs like herself, and with nothing to lose, she decided to try her luck and register for the programme. With 200 million at stake, Tanzania Breweries Limited (TBL), through its Safari Lager brand, introduced the programme which aimed at helping entrepreneurs grow their businesses.

Safari Lager 'Wezeshwa' programme was targeting young entrepreneurs who are interested in promoting their operating business, made possible based on promoting a culture of entrepreneurship in youth group. "This programme was created for Tanzanians aged between 18 -35 years, with the purpose to grow succesful businesses in the long-term," said Oscar Shelukindo, the Safari Lager Brand Manager.

He says that TBL decided to introduce this programme as one way of giving back to the society, and at the same time train entrepreneurs into developing positive skills for their businesses. Describing the process of selecting these entrepreneurs, Shelukindo says that after announcing the start of the competition at the end of last year, a total of 9738 application forms were received.

The forms were studied by a panel of qualified judges, and after a serious consideration, 80 entrepreneurs were selected to enter the second stage. After the training, 26 entrepreneurs out of the remaining 80 were eliminated from the list. The exercise involved looking at the seriousness of the applicant and the viability of their businesses.

"Entrepreneurs who were shortlisted were visited by the judges in order to prove the existence of their business, out of the exercise, a total of 54 were selected and attended business skills training facilitated by TBL," he says. Selected winners, after outlining their needs, were granted subsidies, which in this case depended on the initial request of the applicant.

With the winning entrepreneurs drawn from various regions of Tanzania, their requirements were based according to their field of choice, ranging from technicians, tailors, carpenters, mechanics and bakers. And this is where Elizabeth got her wish to expand her business after TBL awarded her a brand new state-of-the-art baking machine worth millions of shilling. "Thanks to Wezeshwa na Safari Lager, I now can expand my business and get more customers.

In the beginning, my business was limited but now, I can comfortably compete with other bigger businesses," she says enthusiastically. With Wezeshwa na Safari Lager, entrepreneurs were awarded what they required, from tractors to sewing machines and carpentry equipment.

Shelukindo says that in the near future, TBL will increase the bounty from 200m/- million to more than 300m/-, because the aim is to reach a larger number of entrepreneurs, who have a dream of expanding their businesses. Speaking at the inauguration, Safari Lager brand manager, Oscar Shelukindo said Safari Lager has launched Wezeshwa to empower owners of small and medium businesses to expand, create employment, increase incomes and also help their communities.

He said the program me involves well-established business people serving as mentors. It can teach the Wezeshwa na Safari Lager candidates sustainable business skills that will impact the candidates on local communities. Shelukindo says the grant agreement is for five years, and that after awarding the winners, TBL conducts a follow up exercise to determine whether the winner has been able to successfully put into practice the business skills acquired and utilize the grant funding wisely.

The agreement will also impact the growing business made in the community in terms of job creation. "Anyone who takes care of his or her family is a hero, and we are proud that we assist them to become more independent and financially stable," says Oscar with a smile.

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