DAREnterprisers harnesses East Africa’s impetus for change

Wednesday August 12th, 2015 - Bernie Jones

DAREnterprisers is run by Cambridge University based volunteering group Cambridge Development Initiative (CDI)a student run organisation that prides itself on its on-the-ground decision-making and human centred design. The CDI partnered with Smart Villages and others to address growing youth unemployment in East Africa, taking advantage of the impetus for economic change and growth in the region.

Following a series of meetings, discussions and workshops, the idea for an entrepreneurial training course was born and promptly implemented in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania, in the summer of 2014. DAREnterprisers has proved a great success. We have hosted a conference where participants were given the opportunity to present their business plans to local stakeholders and several  alumni have since created and pursued their own businesses.

DareToChangeDarInnovationForChangePosterWe strongly believe that successful business people have influence in their communities and should be the forefront of socially conscious action. Our aim for 2015 was to improve on the course design by creating confident, skilful entrepreneurs with a renewed focus on socially consciousness. This vision was reflected in our decision to host three separate tracks for the course, each handling one major issue faced by East African communities: Off-grid energy, Manufacturing & urban living, and WASH (Waste, Water, Sanitation and Hygiene). Our off-grid energy track has been developed in collaboration with Smart Villages via the Energy Innovation Challenge.

We have selected a cohort of students that have demonstrated an eagerness to learn, develop with the drive and passion needed to overcome the inevitable challenges along the journey towards success. The course consists of an 8-week programme exploring the qualities that make a successful entrepreneur with the skills necessary to develop a social enterprise.

The course then covered methods of design, including an introduction to human centred design, in which students are encouraged to uncover potential problems that may generate a solution. We then focused on ideation, where the students took potential solutions and refined them into viable business ideas. The third and fourth week focused on forming tangible solutions and designing prototypes. This process involved workshops and seminars that covered the significance and methods of product and prototype development.

In the coming weeks, we will cover business models and proposals, marketing & accounting and communication & presentation skills. This will happen alongside workshops where the students have an opportunity to work in their teams, alongside with collaborators and mentors, to design, develop, test and finalise their businesses as far as possible.

As the final conference nears, students are prepared for their professionally delivered pitch to our large board of stakeholders and audience. The aim is for students to develop lasting industry relationships and pitch for incubation $9,000 of available prize money.

DAREnterprisers is focused on developing successful entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurship is about having the skills, tool-set and confidence to grasp at business opportunities as they arise, and we aim to give each of our cohorts these qualities so they can be key players in the transformation of Dar.