Why does measurement and the type of metrics we use matter? In a rapidly changing and complex world, we need to leverage data-driven insights to prove our approaches and programs create lasting impact for the clients we serve.
How can we leverage learning and experimentation to better design agricultural innovations for smallholders? A ‘lean approach’ to testing and learning from pilots, demos, and other experimental methods can help validate assumptions with potential users before committing to costly interventions with low adoption or unintended consequences.
*Trigger warning - domestic violence*
The past few months I have had gender equality and women’s rights on my mind. As a proud feminist, this is not unusual for me, however, something has been gnawing at me recently. It began with International Women’s Day March 8th, and several corresponding events around the day. It is clear that gender equality is a hot topic for NGOs, government, businesses and society. For many, this seemingly elusive, yet ever present term ‘gender’ seems to pop up everywhere these days, to the chagrin and skepticism of some.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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!
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?
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.
Ghana 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.
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 about 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.
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.
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.
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.