Tanzania ICS

World Creativity and Innovation Day: finding your business niche

21st April 2018

Saturday 21st April is World Creativity and Innovation Day. It’s the perfect time to shine the spotlight on some of the Tanzanian entrepreneurs who are taking part in the ICS livelihoods programme to develop sustainable businesses.

One of Raleigh’s core values is to be open to discovery: We are open-minded to trying new things and learning from one another. This value is truly embedded throughout the livelihoods programme. The programme encourages young people living in rural villages to find ways to think about their businesses in a way that adds value by finding new, creative ways to look at their products or services. Over the past three months, around 350 Tanzanians from seven communities have been working alongside Raleigh volunteers to hone their business skills and find their niche in the market.

The entrepreneurs and the Raleigh volunteers, who have been acting as their mentors, have learnt a great deal from one another throughout the process. For example, the community members have the insight to know how to source the materials they need, and the volunteers encourage and facilitate market research and feasibility studies – a crucial part of the programme. With the backing of the market research, the entrepreneurs have been able to explore new and creative business ideas to help them refine their USP.

Meet Alphonsia and Mussa – two of the entrepreneurs who have taken part in the programme:

Alphonsia, restaurant owner

32-year-old Alphonsia has discovered through her market research that improving her customers’ experience would benefit her business, and this is in her control. The availability of the products she serves is outside of her control due to the effects of climate change. Agriculture, an industry which makes up 80% GDP in Tanzania, is threatened by changing rainfall patterns and declining soil fertility.

“The education I received from the Raleigh training helps me to see that I can improve customer care and keep note of cash coming in and out. I can improve the interior of my restaurant and my sister can work there to improve the speed of service to customers. My market research showed me that my customers prefer hard plates: I will no longer use paper plates as my sister will help me to wash all of the plates more quickly. I want a restaurant where people come from far around.”

Mussa King, carpenter

Mussa is a 27-year-old father of one. His main business is carpentry, but he works in a number of other industries too to supplement this income and cover the costs of sending his son to school. When Mussa receives an order for a bed or new door, he takes a deposit and makes the product. However, the turnaround time can be days or even weeks to make and deliver the product, which can deter cutomers. In the rainy season his practice is interrupted by the rain, which means his products take a long time to finish as his workshop is outside and his tools are quickly damaged. Mussa is seeking funding support to enable him to pre-prepare popular products so that customers can buy and take-away on the same day, making his business more resilient to the issues he faces in the rainy season.

“My income could double if I have the beds and doors to sell immediately as to finish the projects for my customers I often have to borrow the materials in the rainy season. My market research showed me that my customers are more willing to buy my product when they can see it before they buy it, rather than asking for it to be made.”

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