You don’t have to be a business expert to volunteer on a livelihoods project

16th November 2016

“As long as you have an open mind, are a motivated person and absolutely chuck yourself into the full experience, everything else will come with the programme. Everyone’s learning together. You might not know business skills, but you might be really creative at thinking up ways of doing lessons and inspiring people, or at getting people to engage.

“You have entrepreneur guides that you read through and work from. There are also things that we take for granted – knowing the basics of cash flow or understanding how loans work. [As volunteers] we realised that, we all had some level of business understanding which we could share. I did a lot of maths in my engineering degree so I was good with numbers and able to support people there. We all had our strengths that we could contribute. Most of the entrepreneurs had only been to primary school, so some of our education was really useful to share.

“[Our Project partner] had been working with the community already, they were very established and knew that Raleigh would be well received. That meant we were in a perfect position to be dropped in as a team, doing something different to Save the Children. They had been working with entrepreneurs to develop practical skills so we then worked on business skills and entrepreneurship.

“You also need the support of the community, the support of the families, the elders need to think it’s a good idea.  One of the most important things is to have the community behind you. Traditionally in Tanzania the older generation have the respect and businesses.

“The Village Executive Officer Fariji originally came into the lessons to really show that he and the community really cared about the project. His support meant the community knew it was serious and a good opportunity for them.

Fariji pitches his business idea

“When Fariji came to the first lesson he realised what a unique opportunity it was. He wanted to set up a chicken farm. He already had training on how to look after them and identified that people had to drive a couple of hours to the next town to buy chickens.

“I couldn’t believe he was the same age as me. If all young people had the same motivation as Fariji, recognised and seized opportunities like he does, the world would be a different place. But a lot of people don’t get opportunities like this in Tanzania. That’s the difference.

“There were also a group of four young women… who came from extremely hard backgrounds but had come together and decided they wanted to be tailors.

Fariji and the ICS volunteers were overjoyed at their success on the programme

“Every single lesson they were always in the front row, writing everything down. A couple of weeks before pitching for a loan their confidence levels were so low, but on pitching day even the shyest woman had something to say. They were absolutely overjoyed when they found out they’d been successful and received a grant and two of the volunteers who had supported them were crying with joy.

“I would say to anyone to do the ICS programme. The hardest part is making the decision to go and do it. The easiest part is coming here and getting on with it.”

Want to make a difference like Lucy? Find out more and apply today!