SOCIAL IMPACT ENTREPRENUERSHIP: EXPERIENCE OF YOUTH ENGAGEMENT IN ZANZIBAR
Africa Philanthropy Network (APN) hosted an online webinar titled “Social Impact Entrepreneurship; Experience of Youth Engagement in Zanzibar” on April 25, 2022. The purpose of this Webinar was to increase understanding of social entrepreneurship initiatives, what is working well and what does not work well in Zanzibar. APN has a mission to promoting this practice and work to promote for a policy environment that will recognize its potential in youth economic empowerment and sustainable development.
The conversation was moderated by Dr. Stigmata Tenga, the Executive Director of APN. She informed the speakers and participants that APN’s mission that is “reclaim the power and elevate African philanthropy the practices. Dr. Tenga said APN is a platform for Africans to interrogate the power dynamics that shape resource mobilization, distribution, and spending impact the possibilities of transformative work in Africa.
Reclaiming African philanthropy entails reclaiming our resources, our voice, our agency, our ability to act”. She continued by defining African philanthropy as the ability to give for impact, for social and systems change, so as to bring benefit and change people’s lives. African philanthropy includes financial and non-financial resources (human, social, economic, natural resources, intellectual, etc.). APN equates African philanthropy with the local agency – the capacity of individuals to act independently and make their own choices.
This intervention is targeting African youth, particularly those who are engaged with social impact entrepreneurship. Africa is a youthful continent, with more than 60% of its population composed of youth between 15-35 years of age – it is inevitable that APNs work to promote the voice and action for African philanthropy considering this important resource in development works. To date, more than 130 social entrepreneurs from Tanzania mainland and Zanzibar have been mapped and their case studies are being and profiled. A series of eight webinars hosted with youth and key actors in the ecosystem to define and enhance an understanding of the context within which youth social impact entrepreneurship have been conducted.
This webinar is among the series of conversations which are aimed at understanding the engagement of the youth in social impact entrepreneurship in Zanzibar. Four speakers from Unguja and Pemba in Zanzibar:
- Izat Abass, the Executive Secretary of the Pemba Environmental and Sanitation Organization,
- Shuwena Seif Executive Director of Refasha Products,
- Mussa Mbwara CEO of Mbwara Catering Company, and
- Rashid Mwinyi, Chairperson Pamoja Youth Initiative.
A summary of their qualifications and experiences is attached in Annex 1.
The webinar was streamed live on FaceBook and directly attended by a total of twenty-eight individuals. Of which, 16 were female and 12 were male. Participants were actively engaged through the chatroom, asking questions and sharing experiences and suggestions for improvement (Annex 2).
- The Conversation
The moderators briefly introduced and invited the four speakers, and invited them to share their stories of success, challenges, and suggestions for future improvements by responding to a few key questions, as follows:
Moderator: Please explain what are you doing, and what attracted you to engage with it?
Mussa Mbwara informed participants that he is doing food catering services and business consultation for small entrepreneurs. He also identified three things that motivated him to engage in what he is doing. Firstly, he said his vision acted as a driving force. He then said, in order to achieve his desired vision and goals he had to develop an action plan that was a framework for providing a direction towards his goals. Mussa’s vision is to provide a sustainable solution to society’s challenges with food access (preparation, catering, supply, sells, and delivery). These problems are shaping the roadmap to achieving his vision. He emphasized the importance of ensuring a good quality products, for a positive image and a positive legacy.
Shuwena Seif Salim says skincare problem she was having motivated her to look into an alternative treatment, after visiting a number of medical professionals, hospitals, and skincare specialists to seek treatment with no or limited response. She then found a treatment on seaweed and decided to embark on the production of skincare to solve other girls’ and women’s skin problems. She attended specialized training and conducted research that enabled her to start a business, namely: “Refasha Products”. These products are free of chemicals. Her enterprise is currently employing a number of women to harvest seaweed and produce skincare products.
Izat Abass who is working with Pemba Environmental and Sanitation Organization, says the state of environmental pollution motivated her ad colleagues to embark on environmental cleaning. She initiated an enterprise for solid waste cleaning and for educating the community about the importance of keeping the environment clean. She is happy with the achievement so far gain in making the city and communities clean. Despite the challenges, she is prepared to engage with the field and ensure clean surroundings.
Rashid Mwinyi is working with youth, as the Chairperson of the Pamoja Youth Initiative. He desires to influence and support youth participation in bringing positive changes in their communities. The initiative is focusing on helping young people (both female and male) identify opportunities and bring sustainable development to the community. He continued by adding that he needs to see youth are using the available opportunities to bring changes to the community, and undergo attitude changes to transform the community. Rashid his biggest wish is to see youth bring their own development and community development.
Moderator: What key challenges are you facing as a social entrepreneur?
In responding, speakers unanimously mentioned the following challenges faced:
- Trust: community members put more trust in products that are produced and supplied by foreigners, less in the local people. This has negative effects on the work spirit of the social impact entrepreneurs. This was emphasis by a Kiswahili saying “Mema hayawi mema mpaka wema wayaseme mema”.
- Mindset: wrong mindset and limited mistrust of local products. Community members seem to believe in foreign products. Some would become interested after witnessing a white person (tourist), purchasing and or using these local products.
- Willingness to pay: Low payment and limited willingness to pay by authorities and community members is a challenge. The payment or in other words ‘return on investment is low, despite the good work and hard operating environments for social entrepreneurs.
- Entrepreneurial mindset: Most youths have a negative mindset towards the potential of entrepreneurship and self-employment, as an alternative strategy to economic empowerment. They are looking for employment opportunities, leading to an increased number of unemployed youth.
- Legal Environment: Legislative and regulatory framework is also a challenge.
- There is limited recognition of the unique contribution to community development.
- There is no policy that defines and recognized the social impact of entrepreneurship. There are heavy associated taxes and cumbersome compliance requirements which prohibit the growth of the field.
- Access to financial services: There is generally a lack of access to financial resources for young entrepreneurs. The challenge is even more severe for social impact entrepreneurs as they may not have the capacity to grow their businesses, and demonstrate a return on investment in a short time.
Moderator: What actions and strategies could be used to solve the challenges including creating an enabling environment for social impact entrepreneurs?
Responses from the four speakers and suggestions by participants in the chatbox are summarized as follows:
- There should be a consideration for social impact entrepreneurs because they don’t produce for profit. What they get is used as the surplus and is been invested into the course of action.
- Open-minded the Community be made aware of the work of social impact entrepreneurs and be encouraged to support them. To start with building trust these are social change makers.
- Government should recognize and support the work of social impact entrepreneurs.
- Government should put in place enabling policies that will ensure social impact entrepreneurs are free from tax or receive tax incentives. This will help them to improve the quality of their products.
- The need for training for social impact entrepreneurs particularly on branding and marketing, business skills, and record-keeping must be given a priority.
- Government should make deliberate efforts to ensure the provision of capital and financial support.
- There should be a coordination board in place of the actors in the sector.
- Advocacy campaigns on social impact entrepreneurship, access to financial resources for social impact entrepreneurs, and changing the mindset of the youth.
Moderator concluded the session by explaining key issues that have been raised from the discussion which also bare the same results as the ongoing research conducted by APNs on social impact entrepreneurship in Africa, starting with Tanzania as a pilot.
Dr. Tenga, continued by informing the participants that from the ongoing participatory stakeholder’s research and learning with a focus on enabling an environment for philanthropy and social investment; APN has five (5) key issues for policy advocacy. These include Registration, Taxation, resource mobilization/fundraising, Policy engagement, and Government oversight. These are policy issues that APNs and other key partners in the field will be advocating for, but with respect to country-specific contexts.
The Executive Director also said that APN is committed to continued documentation of case studies of what social impact entrepreneurs are doing, to increase their profiles and create the correct narrative that can be used in public awareness and for dialogue with the government to create conducive policy and operating environment.
APN has gathered information that is adequate to start thinking of the next steps. How to collaborate with social impact entrepreneurs to enhance the capacity of the actors in the landscape and to put in place a movement that will advocate their rights and enabling environment in Tanzania.
ANNEX 1: SPEAKERS’ BIOS
Rashid Mwinyi is an enthusiastic and passionate leader and activist working to empower other young people by providing leadership and entrepreneurship training, coaching, and mentoring. Born and raised in Zanzibar, he is a Chairperson of the Pamoja Youth Initiative, an NGO with the mission of strengthening Zanzibari youth involvement and participation in positive social change and community development, and a member of Feed Future Tanzania Advancing Youth Advisory Council, advising the implementation of youth empowerment project funded by USAID and focused on income generation through agribusiness.
Rashid earned a bachelor’s degree in Economics of Development from Mwalimu Nyerere Memorial Academy. Prior to his work with Pamoja Youth Initiative, he cofounded the Home Talent Learning Foundation, an NGO dedicated to providing educational support to the community. As a key staff member, Rashid has spent more than five years establishing English programs that promote English language literacy among students of different levels.
Rashid also worked as Programs Lead at Cube Zanzibar, a start-up and business enabler that offers a range of support services. In this role, he organized and facilitated entrepreneurship training, coaching, and mentoring programs for young entrepreneurs and small businesses based in Zanzibar.
Mussa Mbwara, 28, is passionate about assisting young people in reaching their full potential and enjoys providing digital and entrepreneurship skills to young people in Zanzibar. Through speaking, writing, and training, he is dedicated to serving, motivating, and transforming people’s mindsets. His goal is to build a community of positive thinkers in which young people may take full responsibility for who they are by utilizing the only potential that every human being possesses – the mind.
Mussa is the founder and CEO of Mbwara Catering Company, a company that deals with cooking, selling, and delivering foods of all types in Zanzibar. He has also been working professionally for three years in different companies as an accountant and currently, he is a Finance and Administration Manager at Pamoja Youth Initiative, an NGO with the mission of strengthening Zanzibari youth involvement and participation in positive social change and community development.
Mussa earned his bachelor’s degree of commerce in accounting from the University of Dar-es-Salaam. Now, he is at the final stage of the professional exams to be a Certified Public Accountant by the National Board of Accounting and Auditors Tanzania (NBAA).
Mussa attended a one-week Tanzania Leadership Program held at Polytechnic University, Hong Kong. Which, was a lesson on the contribution of youth in building modernized Tanzania, Urban planning, the Revolution of information technology, and the tourism industry.
Shuwena Seif is a 31-years-old woman living and working in Zanzibar. She is a founder and Executive Director of Refasha Products, a business that produces seaweed-based natural cosmetics for women and girls as she realized that women and girls suffering from the use of harmful chemical cosmetics which affect their health and beauty. Shuwena possesses a bachelor’s degree in Computer Science obtained at Kampala International University.
Shuwena has received several entrepreneurship skills training from different programs and organizations including Cube Zanzibar, Feed the Future Tanzania Advancing Youth, Zanzibar Technology and Business Incubator, etc. and now she is trying her level best to cascade the entrepreneurship knowledge and skills to other emerging young entrepreneurs. Shuwena always believes that business is the savior of her life.
Izat Abass is a young activist based in Pemba and is generally involved in social affairs at her institution of which she is the Executive Secretary of the Pemba Environmental and Sanitation Organization. An institution that focuses on urban sanitation and providing environmental education. Izat holds a Diploma in Businesses Management and Administration from Dar-es-salaam College.
ANNEX 2: PARTICIPANTS
S/N NAME GENDER
1 IZAT FEMALE
2 MUZLY MKANGA FEMALE
3 ELLEN NTEMO FEMALE
4 KHAIRIA YESYES FEMALE
5 MUSSA MBWARA MALE
6 MWANGOZI YONA FEMALE
7 MWANVURA MALE
8 RASHID MWINYI MALE
9 SABRINA MAULID FEMALE
10 SHARIFA OMAR FEMALE
11 SHUWENA SEIF FEMALE
12 SULEIMAN MOHAMED MALE
13 ASIA MALE
14 BAHRAN MUHAMMAD FEMALE
15 MWAKA MIYEYE FEMALE
16 AKA FEMALE
17 KOMBO ALLY MALE
18 SALEH MALE
19 TWALAA KHAMISI FEMALE
20 GLORY FEMALE
21 STIGMATA TENGA FEMALE
22 KELVIN EMANUEL MALE
23 GOODCHANCE MARIKI MALE
24 SCHOLASTIC JULLU FEMALE
25 NIXSON MEENA MALE
26 FORTUNATA FRANSIS FEMALE
27 RENA LUHUNGA MALE
28 MWILA BWANGA MALE