Impact of Digital Business Program in Tanzania
In the diverse and dynamic markets of Tanzania, a new generation of 8,560 entrepreneurs embarked on a transformative journey, spanning from bustling cities to peri-urban areas and rural regions across the country. Their entrepreneurial endeavors were characterized by limited business acumen, financial literacy, and digital prowess, essential for thriving in the digital age. This transformative journey is an integral part of the Daring to Shift project, a collaborative effort in partnership with Global Affairs Canada.
With support from an ecosystem of partners, the Digital Business Program was implemented in Arusha, Dar es Salaam, Dodoma, Iringa, Kigoma, Morogoro, Mwanza, Tabora, Tanga, Mjini Magharibi, Pemba Kaskazini, and Pwani.
Embracing the Digital Promise
Motivated by the promise of digital solutions, these participants eagerly embraced the opportunity. They witnessed the transformation of their peer’s businesses through digital platforms and recognized the untapped potential in the digital world. The COVID-19 pandemic further emphasized the importance of using digital channels to conduct business, expanding their horizons beyond their physical locations. Their journey began when DOT’s Community Leaders reached out to them through social media, partner organizations, and local government offices across these regions. This program, structured through DOT’s impactful peer-to-peer model, offered the promise of digital empowerment.
“I decided to attend the digital business training program because I was struggling to find new customers, keep financial records, and grow my business. I wanted to take my business to another level ~ Delida, Beauty Salon Owner, Mwanza.”
During the program, participants acquired a set of transferable skills and competencies. They learned to articulate their business vision, understand their customers, innovate in customer niches, develop compelling value propositions, design innovative products, and master the art of sales and distribution channels. These newfound skills became their compass as they navigated the digital landscape.
Navigating the Digital Landscape: Embracing Challenges and Opportunities
As these young entrepreneurs embraced digital solutions, they embarked on a new path filled with challenges and opportunities. While they no longer operated solely within the confines of their local market, they discovered that the digital landscape introduced new challenges. This included the reality that they had to navigate the complexities of online competition, where businesses from all over could potentially offer similar products or services, requiring them to employ innovative marketing strategies to stand out.
Guided by the Community Leaders as their coaches, a network of youth peers, and DOT partners, their journey continued. Coaches provided ongoing support as participants applied their newfound skills to their businesses. Through locally organized Business Development events organized by DOT Tanzania, they received guidance in business formalization, tax compliance, and access to essential financial services.
“While attending the Biashara Forum, I discovered SMIDA a government institution that supports small scales entrepreneurs like me and they offer services such as creating branded packers for my products ~ Leila, Tailor and Henna Artist, North Pemba”
Catalyzing Collaboration: Scaling Gender-Sensitive Youth-Led Programs
DOT and the Community Leaders took a central role in identifying potential partners, engaging them, and formalizing partnerships. Regular partner meetings served as a conduit for building connections among stakeholders at local, national, and international levels across these diverse regions. This collaborative effort not only strengthened linkages and networks between various actors but also significantly bolstered their capacity to work together effectively, with a particular emphasis on empowering young women. The program set an ambitious target to reach 9,000 entrepreneurs, with 70% of them being women, reflecting its commitment to placing young women at the center of digital inclusion.
DOT conducted a series of transformative capacity-building workshops with partners, sparking a paradigm shift in their gender approaches and empowering them to craft their own gender policies. These efforts resulted in the establishment of new partnerships, a robust support system for entrepreneurs, and the formulation of comprehensive gender policies.
“With DOT Tanzania’s support, our organization has not only crafted a gender strategy that now guides our internal and external engagements but has also positioned us favorably among funding partners. ~ James, an Administration Officer at the Mwanza Youth and Children Network (MYCN)”
This evolution in the capacity of local partners and Youth Champions to expand gender-sensitive youth-led programs stands as a testament to the program’s comprehensive and far-reaching impact.
Amidst these transformative experiences, individuals emerged, and one such individual is Irene, a young woman from Mwanza. She began her business journey as a retailer, promoting her products on social media. Armed with financial management skills and the power of social media marketing, Irene’s customer base expanded exponentially. She now sources clothing wholesale and sells to both direct customers and smaller businesses, transforming her business into a thriving enterprise.
Empowering Tanzanian Entrepreneurs: The Digital Business Program’s Impact
Through the Digital Business Program, a total of 8,559 young entrepreneurs (5,741 females and 2,818 males) have been empowered with essential digital skills to enhance their businesses. Remarkably, 83% of these business owners have achieved a 20% increase in their profits, and 17% have gained access to vital business support and services from DOT’s partner ecosystem.
However, their impact goes beyond financial success. These entrepreneurs become catalysts for positive change in their communities. They share their business knowledge, create job opportunities for local youth, and support their families. Women who participated in the digital business program have experienced newfound financial independence, like a young widow who returned to her parent’s home because she couldn’t provide for herself and her child but now runs a thriving business. This program’s community-centered approach drives both social and economic transformations at various levels.
“My business was centered just around my community and depended on wedding and holiday seasons, but now I am busy almost every day, with people from other areas contacting me for business regardless of the season ~ Leila, Tailor and Henna Artist, North Pemba”
Fostering Success Through Partnerships: DOT Tanzania’s Collaborative Journey within 12 Regions
An ecosystem of partners is vital for the sustainability of business support for young entrepreneurs. DOT Tanzania attributes its success to a network of partners across 12 regions who hosted community leaders, provided training spaces, and mobilized program participants. This collaborative approach has created a ripple effect of empowerment, innovation, and economic growth that extends far beyond the program itself.
The participants of the Digital Business Program in Tanzania have embarked on a transformative journey, using digital skills as their weapons to conquer challenges and create opportunities. Their stories not only inspire but also demonstrate the potential of technology to drive economic growth, empower youth, and improve the lives of countless individuals and communities.
About Daring to Shift Project:
Daring to Shift is a transformative multinational project implemented by Digital Opportunity Trust from 2019 to 2023 in various communities across Africa and the Middle East. This innovative initiative made possible through a partnership with the Government of Canada, has empowered over 1,000 local youth, with a particular focus on young women as agents of positive change. Over the project’s duration, it reached more than 40,000 community beneficiaries, with 70% of them being women.
The project focused on equipping youth with essential skills such as digital literacy, workforce readiness, entrepreneurship, and social innovation. This holistic approach aimed to catalyze the creation of digital jobs, businesses, and local enterprises that address community-specific needs and value chains. The project is rooted in the belief that young people, as co-designers of their own futures, play a pivotal role in driving inclusive growth, fostering resilience, and enabling community recovery. By bridging the gender divide, transforming ecosystems, and promoting social and economic development, Daring to Shift represented a beacon of positive change across the regions it serves especially during and after the COVID-19 Pandemic.