Mtu ni watu: a person is people

Carolyn Kandusi embodies the proverb mtu ni watu: a person is people. No man is an island. We must support each other in order to succeed.

When she began considering the idea of how to create a community to empower young entrepreneurs in Arusha, Carolyn knew she didn’t want to do it alone. Just as young entrepreneurs in Arusha needed a place to come together and support one another, Carolyn knew she would need the support of other young people to make her idea a reality.

She turned to DOT Tanzania. As part of her participation with DOT Tanzania’s youth leadership program, Carolyn connected with other young social entrepreneurs. Soon, there was a community of young people excited to bring an innovation and entrepreneurship hub to life.

Equipped with tools, knowledge, and skills through DOT’s programs, and with seed capital from DOT, Carolyn and three other young social entrepreneurs launched Obuntu Hub, a youth hub that empowers young entrepreneurs by providing a co-working space, practical skills and a supportive community.

Obuntu Hub was inspired by the notion of obuntu. Also known as ubuntu or umunthu in other parts Africa, obuntu is the idea of collective progress and a universal bond that connects all humanity. Obuntu Hub taps into this universal bond to drive collective progress for young entrepreneurs and the local community.

Obuntu offers business and life skills training to young entrepreneurs, and provides them a supportive environment to become daring social innovators. Obuntu also has a model where participants are divided into groups that generate ideas for a social enterprise or initiative that benefits 10 people. The trainings end with a business pitching competition with investors who provide funding to promising ideas.

Though Obuntu it is still in the prototyping phase, Carolyn and her team of social entrepreneurs have already had tremendous success. In a six-week pilot program, every participant in Obuntu reported they had improved their entrepreneurship skills, and 86% of the participants said the training they received at Obuntu Hub enabled them to better manage life.

One of the participants was a talented young craftsman who lacked the capital to grow his micro-enterprise. He took part in a pitching competition and won an equivalent of $90. With this, he was able to increase his production of Maasai shoes from one pair of shoes a week to 30 pairs of shoes per week – an incredible increase in production.

Carolyn and her team have also set up Obuntu to provide space for organizations and groups to host their own events. In March, they hosted Tanzania Bora Initiative’s SHE Codes for Change workshop, an initiative to nurture young girls’ interest in technology and engineering at an early stage of their careers through basic coding skills. Carolyn hopes to develop many more partnerships with organizations doing such innovative and important work.

As Obuntu Hub continues to evolve and grow, Carolyn has DOT’s support behind her. In the spirit of obuntu, Carolyn has access to a network of social entrepreneurs DOT, and DOT has also connected her with a mentor to work closely on Obuntu Hub’s prototyping phase.

Though there are still challenges and hurdles to overcome in fully launching Obuntu, Carolyn has created a community of young leaders to help overcome them. With this network of bright, engaged social innovators committed to transforming their communities and creating opportunities, Carolyn will no doubt be successful in making Obuntu Hub a centre of excellence in youth-led innovation in Tanzania and internationally.

Obuntu offers business and life skills training to young entrepreneurs, and provides them a supportive environment to become daring social innovators.

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