Time flies when having fun

And I’m having fun for sure! I am so so happy that I went to Tanzania and found my happy place here in Arusha. The people, the nature, the city, the climate… I just love it. When I called my friend Eva yesterday, I realised that we didn’t call since I left the Netherlands this summer. Together we figured that I’ve been away for 10 weeks already and I don’t miss home at all. Of course, there are those little things that I feel like; I wish I had that now. For example when I see someone drinking my favourite beer or having cheese fondue…. But that’s just for one second and I forget about it immediately. I’m just happy I can drink a Kilimanjaro beer and have kuku for dinner three times a week and I will enjoy everything at home even more when I’m back!

Besides all the great experiences with creating and testing new travel programs and accommodations, I’m also supporting YEP Tanzania – the Youth Entrepreneurship Program. This NGO aims to support underprivileged youngsters by providing training and education to enable them to start their own small business to create a sustainable living for themselves and their families. In addition to education (e.g. bookkeeping, computer skills and negotiating), microloans are provided in case the plans and the entrepreneur are promising. I really believe in their approach and it has been so interesting to join their meetings, meet some entrepreneurs and be part of this successful program.

The program and lessons started in April, so they were done with classes when I arrived. Now they are busy with meetings to decide what kind of support the businesses will receive. This varies from supporting people with creating a portfolio by giving them assignments; support with designing and printing business cards or flyers; or possibly a small loan to be able to invest and grow the business. I was amazed by how some entrepreneurs really improved their business during the past 6 months. One girl for example, sells shoes at churches. A few months ago, she only sold 3 pairs a week, but now she sells over 20 pairs at one church on a Sunday. It seems very little and we might not even take this serious in the Netherlands, but here, this really makes a difference. Now, this young single mom can take care of her two kids, which was very hard before.

Another example I was really inspired by, was the story of Aneth. She has a very small ‘home need shop’ at the large market of Arusha. She sells plastic bags to small shops as well as soap and spaghetti, very random products, but it works. Before Aneth joined the program, she didn’t do any bookkeeping. She had no idea how much money came in and how much she spent on stock. Through the program, she learned to make a sales overview and a track record of all the supply she buys. When she started applying these tools, she noticed that her profit was much higher than the money she always had in hand at the end of the month, so she realised that she wasted or lost a lot of money, just because she had no idea what she was supposed to have. Now she can start with financial planning and take better care of her family and pay the school fees for her sister. We also support her with an Excel spreadsheet with all the information she collects. We give her an idea of how much she sells of each product and what the margin is on these. This helps her to increase the profitability and as a result of course, also the growth opportunities. Very nice!

One last example I’ve been involved in, is Salehe and Emmanuel who started ‘Kingstone Asilia’. They have a very nice place on the coffee farm of Salehes uncle and they would like to organise interactive coffee tours and cooking classes. A great idea and the place is lovely, but the guys definitely needed some help. Together we did both activities like I was a real guest and I could give comments and points of improvement at the end. I also supported them with better pictures and a nice flyer, so hopefully, these guys will manage!

I am very happy and grateful that I can be part of this project and have the chance to experience all this. It really inspires me and I’m busy working on plans now….


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