My name is Vineet and I am currently pursuing an MPhil in Energy Technologies at St. Edmund’s College. I am leading CDI’s Entrepreneurship project this year which aims to tackle the high levels of youth unemployment in Tanzania, especially among university graduates. I decided to join CDI because I really wanted to gain experience working on development projects abroad and learn about the different stages of the project lifecycle – all the way from conception to implementation. Furthermore, CDI’s volunteering model really appealed to me since we work alongside local partners like KITE Dar es Salaam over the course of an entire year to create impactful, lasting and sustainable change. Finally, I have always been passionate about entrepreneurship and was excited to use it as a tool for economic empowerment – creating opportunities for meaningful employment, while also helping to solve challenging social issues.
In the past, we ran an 8-week entrepreneurship course (DAREnterprisers) that equipped students with the skills needed to build their own startups and social enterprises from the ground up. After this project was handed over to a local organization, we piloted a business seminar series last summer. This summer, we will be introducing a new program – the Youth Business Challenge (YBC), in addition to continuing the seminars. While our past efforts centred on ideation and starting new businesses, YBC focuses more on scaling up existing small-scale businesses. The program matches teams of current college students and recent graduates with local early-stage startups and small-and-medium enterprises (SMEs) in Dar es Salaam. Over August and September, participants will help these firms tackle business problems while also gaining a host of new skills and insights through seminars and workshops hosted by our volunteers as well as invited speakers.
CDI has already been an incredible learning experience since I joined the committee last October. It has allowed me to grapple with the practical challenges of running international development projects, especially while collaborating across cultures and working with teams in both the UK and Tanzania. However, it has also shown me the immense potential for positively impacting local communities, even while being an entirely student-run nonprofit. Designing a new initiative like YBC has taught me a lot about what works and what doesn’t in this field, and how to include several different stakeholders in this process. In particular, it was invaluable to travel to Dar earlier this year in January since I was able to meet in person with the KITE team as well as several local partners which include universities, businesses and nonprofits. With the summer trip approaching soon, I am excited to see the project through to execution and assess its impacts. Overall, being a part of CDI has been a truly rewarding journey full of personal and professional growth – one that has shaped me into a better, more resilient leader and has helped me learn a great deal from other members on the team!
Vineet J. Nair, Entrepreneurship Project Director 2018/19
Vineet is a MPhil candidate in Energy Technologies at St. Edmund’s College.