MEDA Blog

Embracing the aches and pains: recruiting cassava seed entrepreneurs in Tanzania

PartnershipMeeting with prospective CSEs at the local government offices in Kisasa ward.

I’m now just over halfway through my internship na kazi imenimeza kabisa – and I’ve been completely engulfed by work - but trust me, I love it! No coffee runs for me!

In my internship, I have the privilege to witness how MEDA’s BEST Cassava project is changing lives for the better.

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Dream big - just ask Christina

ChristinaOne of Christina's employees designing a beaded pair of sandals.

We sat on a wooden bench in a small shop tucked in behind the bustling street of Bagamoya in Manzese, Dar es Salaam. We had walked past many similar shops to find her, being embraced by the sights and smells of leather sandals being made, street food, and the dusty roads typical of the Dar dry season.

Christina is a small entrepreneur (SE) who has been in the shoe-making business for the past nine months. Her entrepreneurial spirit, however, has been alive for much longer. She graciously shared her journey with us as we sat in her shop watching customers come and go and her fundis (which in Swahili means employees) make sandals across from us.

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Dar es Salaam – a city of hospitality & entrepreneurship

Tanzania - SSBVC project

Moving across the world to a new city has been both an overwhelming and rewarding experience. As I settle into a new routine and learn to navigate a new city, I reflect on the people and experiences I have had thus far.

Let’s just say, it’s been amazing!

I arrived in Dar late on a Wednesday evening. The next morning, I arrived at the office to meet staff and receive orientation and training on MEDA’s SSBVC project.

SSBVC stands for Strengthening Small Business Value Chains (Kuza Biashara Sawia) project. This project aims to contribute to Tanzania’s economic growth and increase job creation by sustainably improving the business performance of small, growing businesses (SGBs) and small entrepreneurs.

You may be asking, how is MEDA involved in this process?

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"I missed this energy. It was nice to be back."

TanBEST

The first month of my internship with MEDA has served as a great reminder of the vast contrasts the world contains.

In 2012, I immigrated from Kenya to Canada, and for the past six years, I have called Canada home. These years have been filled with wonderful experiences and I quickly became accustomed to the “Western lifestyle”.

Here in Mwanza, Tanzania I am reminded of my childhood. The atmosphere is very different than I am accustomed to – even as a child of Nairobi. The drive from the airport to my residence was a trip down memory lane as I watched the boda-bodas (motorcycles used to transport people and goods) weave through traffic. As I whizzed through Mwanza in the night, I saw street-sellers hawking their wares. I reflected on how entrepreneurship is interwoven into the very fabric of all societies around the world. The hustle of entrepreneurs in cities like Mwanza make the world turn.

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Let us introduce you to our new interns!

 InternsFrom left to right: Rameesha, Davies, Chrissy and Rilian

At MEDA, we believe in the next generation of development professionals. That's why we invest in their careers and help them to gain practical, hands-on international experience that compliments the skills they have learned through their education. 

Let us introduce you to these four amazing people!

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The Book Business: How to measure market performance?

Ethiopian girls reading

Confession time: sometimes I buy books on Amazon.

I like the convenience of it.

While there is nearly nothing as delightful as perusing the bookshop aisle, daily demands sometimes dictate a few taps on my phone over finding the nearest Chapters or independent bookstore.

What does this mean for the book business?

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#TravelBlog: Michael White roots out cassava

Websitepic

We arrived in Mwanza in the morning – my arrival in Dar es Salaam was the night before (and our departure from Dar was in the dark too).

The locals have dubbed Mwanza, “Rock City” due to the sizeable granite boulders that seem to emerge from the ground. Some of them are precariously balanced on small boulders. One could liken them to naturally formed inukshuks (Inuit cairn).

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SSBVC: Let's Listen to Local Leaders

Sometimes, you don’t have to recreate the wheel.

At MEDA, we do our best to partner with already functioning entities and systems. Why start from scratch when you don’t have to?Our Strengthening Small Business Value Chains (SSBVC) project in Tanzania is one such example. Before we began working in Tanzania, we saw the potential of existing lead firms and decided to support and strengthen the business systems that were already in place and demonstrating how they could improve supply chains.

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High Commission of Canada Visits GROW

bibeauedit1Ghana has emerged as one of Africa’s economic success stories, with steady economic growth in its agriculture and mining sectors.

Ghana and Canada have had a long and prosperous relationship, with Ghana being one of the first nations in Africa to establish diplomatic ties with Canada. 

On July 8, 2017, MEDA’s Greater Rural Opportunities for Women (GROW) project in Ghana was pleased to welcome the Honourable Marie-Claude Bibeau, Minister of Development and La Francophonie to view GROW and share information on the challenges faced by women and girls in remote northern areas of the country.

 

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Encouraging Findings from Katesh, Manyara

The small clinic in Katesh, Manyara is full of young mothers bedecked in brightly colored kitenges. While some have small children, all are here to learn more aboutmasava1 Vitamin A fortified oil, a product that improves eyesight and strengthens immunity. At the front of the room, clinic staff emphatically describe Vitamin A's health benefits, occasionally asking the audience questions to ensure the message is being heard. I remember to take the clinic's GPS coordinates. They will be helpful when I conduct a spatial analysis of all the retail shops and BCC activities in the area.

Behold the scene that unfolded before my eyes in Katesh, Manyara, one of MASAVA's two target regions in Tanzania. My visit to Katesh was part of a larger project to measure the effectiveness of behavioral change campaigns ("BCC") on oil sales. Previous research had showed that BCC campaigns were successful in raising greater awareness about the presence of Vitamin A fortified oil in the market. However, raising awareness about a product is one thing. The question that sparked my curiosity was if greater awareness inspired consumers to buy oil. I was in Katesh to interview attendees and find out.My findings were encouraging. Nearly all participants–young, old, man, woman—said they would buy Vitamin A fortified sunflower oil despite the higher cost.

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Night markets, Myanmar style

20170428 193923 low resNight markets originated in Asian cultures, and they’re quickly spreading to cultures far and wide. A night market takes place just after dusk and can go into the wee hours of the morning. Tent vendors, food vendors and musicians gather to block a street and create a unique atmosphere with all the smells, sounds and activities of a normal marketplace.

In Hpa-An, the capital of Kayin State, Myanmar, the night market starts up as the heat of the day begins to dissipate into a welcoming warm evening.

Families gather for their evening meal on the east bank of the Thanlwin (Salween) River, amidst a range of vendors cooking small pancakes, patties, dumplings and other "fast" foods.

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The Strengthening Small Business Value Chains (SSBVC) project has officially launched!

Although it has been two years since the project began operations Tanzania, on February 2nd MEDA organized and hosted the official launch event for the KUZA-BIASHARA-SAWIA project which was attended by dignitaries from both the Tanzanian and Canadian governments, private organizations, other NGOs, and a number of businesses currently involved in the SSBVC project.

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Cacophonous streets, soccer, good food: My life as an intern in Tanzania

I have officially been in Dar es Salaam as MASAVA’s newest intern for five weeks. Full disclosure: this is my first time to Tanzania, and indeed Africa. As is the case with any new adventure, being here is unbelievably exciting. I have battled the cacophonous streets markets in city center, sweated under the intense heat playing soccer, and traveled to an island closeby for some fresh fish and chips. Amidst all this fun, I’ve had the chance to learn about and take part in a very interesting project.

The purpose of the MASAVA Project is to tackle Vitamin A deficiency in rural Tanzania. 34% of Tanzanian children aged 6 – 59 months and 37% of women aged 15 - 49 are Vitamin A deficient due to inadequate diets. Consequently, they suffer from night blindness, weak immunity, and a host of other psychological and physical symptoms.

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5 Reasons San Antonio is probably the coolest place to be this October

We hope you'll join us for Business as a Calling 2016: Women Changing the World in San Antonio, Texas, October 27-30! If you're on the fence about coming to the MEDA Convention this year, here are five reaons why San Antonio is the coolest place to be this October.

1. The Weather

San Antonio is one of the southern-most cities in the continental United States. That means warm (ok, HOT) weather year-round. But there’s good news! In October, the average temperature in San Antonio ranges between 60 – 80 degrees Fahrenheit or 15 – 27 degrees Celsius. For many, that’s the “Goldilocks zone:” Not too hot, not too cold, but just right.

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The Babati Team

Jambo and greetings from Babati, Tanzania. As some of you may know from my previous blog posts, my name is Daniel Simonson, and I am the business analyst/gender intern for the MASAVA project. I have been posted in Babati for almost two months now and have had the opportunity to better understand the inner workings of the MASAVA project. With that in mind, this new blog is intended to keep you up to date on the daily ins and outs of the project from the perspective of the field. Through these bi-weekly posts, I hope to convey some of the challenges and successes we face as a team in the field, and the solutions that we arrive at. I would like to begin by introducing the members of the team that work in the field. In addition, I will introduce other members of the team in future posts.
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Delivering Data

Hello again from Tanzania! Time for a quick update on what has been a fast paced last couple of weeks with the MASAVA project. I have been jumping around the county between Babati, Arusha and Dar es Salaam. Dar was an especially interesting time as I was able to meet the MEDA team that has been so helpful in getting me up and running. I spent the rest of the week receiving training on the innovative eVoucher platform that the project is using to track the distribution and sales of Vitamin A fortified sunflower oil. Vitamin A deficiency can cause serious problems such as blindness and birth defects; however, because sunflower oil is used in most cooking, fortified oil adds nutrition to any food!
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Babati Beat

Jambo! (Hello),

My name is Daniel Simonson, and I am the new Gender/Business analyst intern for the MASAVA (Mafuta ya Asili ya Alizeti yenye Vitamini A, which translates to “Natural Sunflower Oil Fortified with Vitamin A”) project based in Babati, Tanzania. I just completed my first week, and I finally have a little time to catch you, the supporters of MEDA, up on the ins and outs of life as an intern.
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My MEDA Internship Reflection: "So many opportunities"

Graduating with marketing, I knew I didn't want to go into the advertising world, I wanted to market something I truly believed in, I wanted to use my business knowledge for something more then just making money. I had heard about the MEDA internships recently and for me the chance abroad, as well as the work experience was perfect.

No, it wasn't really what I thought it would be, it is actually a lot faster pace. I had assumed that everything would move at a really slow pace, not truly preparing me for work when I move back home but it was quite the opposite. Everyday presented a new opportunity and new challenge. The staff was incredible, inviting you into many discussions that are both a learning experience and a chance for you to share your own ideas. The office culture was as close to a family as you could get, not a day went by without laughing here. I had so many opportunities to be involved with so many more departments of the organization learning new skills every time.

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My MEDA Internship Reflection: "It was a great organization"

I decided to apply for a MEDA internship as it was an opportunity to branch out in my career goals. I had previously been working in a provincial government desk job for 5 years and thought it was time for a change to implement my background with mapping GIS/ and international development and it seemed like a great opportunity.

I was most interested in MEDA's wide variety of economic development ideas on how they take grassroots steps in order to help out the people and the countries they are working in. They don't give handouts and instead empower the citizens to reach their highest potential on their own. It was a great organization right from the orientation week to work for, and be a part of. The standards are very high and the organization is well known and respected in developing countries they do work in.

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Don’t Be Sad, Just be Glad

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It's the last day of work, don't be sad just be glad, it's the last day of work. All you Silver Lakers know exactly what I'm talking about... that silly song we sing so we can deal with the sad feelings of leaving camp for the summer. I sang that song as I walked to find a bijaji today, my last day of work at MEDA Tanzania.I cannot believe it has been nine months, that is absolutely wild to me. The time has flown by. I find myself thinking about the beginning a lot, when I was so incredibly homesick, I considered packing my bag right then and there and flying back to Canada. I remember thinking about how I didn't think I could do this; that I did not have what it takes to live abroad for six months, nevermind extending the time for nine months. Those thoughts seem so silly to me now.The office here in Tanzania has set seriously high standards for future offices I may work in. The environment here, is exactly what I always hoped for, a place where people not only work together but grow together. Whether it's Goodluck singing to the whole M&E department with Irene and Ngowi joining in, Mwinyi trying to confuse me with people by using their surnames, Lorraine checking in to make sure I was safe on the weekend or while travelling, others teaching me more Swahili phrases that I can never remember that really are just another way to say, "Hey, what's up?" or simply having hilarious conversations over the cubicles that I cannot help but giggle at. Those moments I will take with me always. This is not only an office but it is a family. A family I was lucky enough to be apart of.I was able to complete my internship with a few days in the field taking pictures of the beneficiaries receiving their vouchers and nets. These are the people and the reasons why we continue to do the work for, these are the people that make every stressful day worth it and the people that are making the most out of the opportunities we are able to provide:Asante Sana (A great thank you) to all you at MEDA for making my experience every bit as great as it has been. This year has completely surpassed my expectations and I as I leave the office today, I will never forget all of your happy faces.ASANTE SANA
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