Reflections on the Into Business Seminar Series

By Izzy Monnickendam

As the last week of 2018’s Entrepreneurship project approaches, we would like to reflect on our Into Business Seminar Series pilot project, thinking about what has gone well, what we have learnt and how we can move forward next year. But first, what actually is this year’s entrepreneurship project? The IntoBusiness programme is a 5-week seminar series on practical business skills, aimed at encouraging young Tanzanians to start their own sustainable businesses. Our project endeavours to tackle crippling youth unemployment amongst recent graduates. One shocking statistic that highlights the need for such a project is that approximately 800,000 young Tanzanian professionals compete for just 416,000 formal jobs each year.

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Working with our counterparts this year has been an invaluable experience.

So what have we done so far? We have run eight seminars and are excited to have our final four this week. The summer started with a rush to decide and flesh out the seminar series’ content. Then it was the communication team’s task to confirm speakers for all twelve or so seminars. We have had to make some changes along the way, such as removing seminars that had little interest or no available speaker. On the whole, our speakers have been engaging, enthusiastic and enlightening. One seminar that I particularly enjoyed was with Khalila Kellz Mbowe, who immediately got to know all the participants and sparked a varied discussion on different aspects of gender issues in business.

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Khalila posing with some of our team and participants.

A very different but equally stimulating seminar was on business economics and given by two of our own team members, Vincent and Luca. Rewarding participants with chocolates when they answered questions helped create a fun atmosphere in the room.

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Vincent and Luca presenting their seminar on business economics.

Reflecting on what we have done so far, it becomes clear that teamwork has been crucial to the success of the seminar series. With so many people working on the same project, it has been essential to collaborate and communicate as much as possible. Sometimes things don’t work out smoothly and our team has certainly gone through ups and downs. However, any difficulties have only made us stronger and taught us more, individually, about working in a challenging environment. That’s why we have come up with the entrepreneurship team’s top ten tips for teamwork!

  1. Always be polite and friendly
  2. Discuss all important issues
  3. Be honest, never hide information
  4. Listen to whoever’s talking at any moment – keep phones and laptops away
  5. Stay positive even when things go wrong
  6. Confront any issues head on and then move onwards and upwards
  7. Question decisions that you don’t agree with, but in a constructive way
  8. Be ready to adapt and adjust to challenges coming your way
  9. Set clear goals for everybody every day
  10. Believe in what you’re working for
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The entrepreneurship team at the beginning of the summer.

Thinking ahead to next year there are several ideas to be considered for the future entrepreneurship project and team. The impact and success of the seminar series will be assessed and, as it is a pilot project, there will be a decision about whether it will continue. If so, attendance for next year will be a key focus, as well as reviewing speakers to make sure the seminars are as interactive and informative as possible. Reflecting on the digital resource bank we have been working on to complement the seminars, it will be exciting to track its success and think about how it can be expanded, in terms of both content and access. Furthermore, proposals about a student consultancy pilot project will be contemplated. This idea would involve teams of professionally trained students pairing up with local business to maximise their entrepreneurial success. This is in very early stages of planning, however, and a lot more research needs to be done. There is a lot to be excited about!

Finally, one thing we have been reflecting on since the very beginning of the seminar series is how to define its success. Is it about how many people come to the seminars? Or about how many people use the information we give them to start their own business? Or maybe it’s about what kind of people attend, whether graduates, women or business owners? Perhaps it is all these things and more. Hopefully, we will find out in our end-of-project M&E report!

 

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