Reflecting on the Health Project

Sunday 23rd August.  CDI’s members gather, warily, for what has been billed as a three-hour CDI-wide session.  Charlie Douty, CDI’s Vice-President, asks each CDI project to consider its three principal achievements over the summer, and to act them out in a ‘picture frame’.  The Health Project gathers and considers its response… Continue reading →

Introducing the WASH track

In two days time the DAREnterprisers conference will be taking place at the Bank of Tanzania. As part of the conference there will be three pitching competitions each of which is for $3,000 seed funding prize. The second competition of the day will be revolving around waste, water, sanitation & hygiene (WASH) and the entrepreneurial solutions that surround it. Here are the teams and business ideas that have made up the WASH track: Continue reading →

Petro Mwamlima tells us his story

Petro, a co-founder of DLE Company and a finalist at Ardhi University, tell us his heartfelt story. Who he is, why he joined CDI’s DAREnterprisers course and how he’s changed. Here’s what he wrote:

It wasn’t easy to determine what exactly CDI was until when I jumped in, as other youth with great ambitions of making money faster, I was eager of having the cash prize advertised as a competition reward. In facts I was still in dilemma to whether I should select be where I was located in my Industrial training (Kilombero sugar Industry) or join the CDI team, am mentioning CDI happily, because I once mentioned it surprising like a person face to face with a hungry lion, all of my expectations melted like ice, because I thought I would be working with the Smart village team, a team comprising of experts in a tournament way. Though the prize money was specified as a seed capital, I with my friends (Team mate) was thinking on spending the cash, I remember the other times we made jokes on how we could spend the awarded prize among ourselves. Ooooh! We were blinds in the world full of visions and imaginations.


Petro is a co-founder of DLE Company

As days were kicking the bucket in a smart month of July, I gradually understood the true meaning, purpose, vision and mission of this amazing team called “Cambridge Development Initiative (CDI)” It’s very hard to say in brief what CDI is doing to youth, because even if I would like to, I would spend many pages trying to summarize how important it is for all youth with ambitions of being wealth people and not rich ones joining the team, let me try my best being brief about CDI, CDI is the home of innovations and inspirational place for you who wish to “OWN YOUR BUSINESS”.

Right now everything I see, everything I hear, anywhere and from any person, I get an idea in it, now I know am not an ordinary Petro anymore but rather someone potential, am full of business ideas, now I realize my USP (Unique Selling Point). I have a question for you:

“What is so precious in you, that you think you can’t live it even for a minute, the distinctive thing that makes you peculiar, and a man of your own?”

“Join it, learn it, experience it, like it, modify it, publish it, and own it”

All the achievements in the world came from people’s ideas; it’s your time to bring your achievements in the world. How? Visit

Introducing the Off Grid Energy track

In three days time the DAREnterprisers conference will be taking place at the Bank of Tanzania. As part of the conference there will be three pitching competitions each of which is for $3,000 seed funding prize. The first competition of the day will be revolving around Off-Grid Energy and the entrepreneurial solutions that surround it. Here are the teams and business ideas that have made up the Off-Grid Energy track:

“Citigas provides clean and affordable biogas to Rwandan society. This gas can be used for cooking, heating, lighting and in automobiles. Our services and products serve the various consumption patterns with high benefits to the targeted clients. We deliver our products to clients through agents and stop centers reaching our customers where they are. We also provide consultancy services to individual clients interested in constructing their own biogas plants. Our products are produced with advanced technologies to meet global standards and serve customer expectations. We have products in various sizes to fit all customer needs ranging from 3-50Kg.”


Founder: Hilary Muramira

Dream Line Energy
Dream line energy deals with solving energy related problems mainly in off grid communities by supplying energy to serve their demands through installations of solar power systems. The energy generated is offered to our customers at affordable cost so that everyone one can have access to our services hence reducing the need for kerosene lamps, dry cells/battery-powered torches, and phone charging cost together with the elimination of the time and energy spent in finding charging stations which are always far from their homes. Customers will save money, time and also cleaning up the environment since the energy supplied is free from pollution. So, a win-win situation for everyone!


Founders: Frank Prosperous, Petro Mwamlima and Ally Mwanja

Chemolex limited is a green energy company based in Nairobi, Kenya. We propose to provide off-grid rural households with a clean, affordable home lighting system by harnessing and storing solar energy in rechargeable batteries, which is our unique selling point. Upon registration (at a fee of 2 US dollars) we provide the househod with a system where they are able to access up to 20 hours of lighting and phone charging. Discharged batteries can be recharged at a local nearby kiosk for a recharge fee of 0.25 US Dollars. We then collect the discharged batteries, which we recharge at our solar charging station, then distribute back to our agent kiosks using electric powered motor bikes.


Founders: James Ogola and Clifford Okoth

African Powering
Lack of access to reliable, affordable and environmentally friendly energy for cooking in rural areas that are off the grid is a big problem. African Powering is a Tanzanian based company that focuses on providing best off grid energy services in African rural areas by using modern biogas technologies. Our company will sensitize beneficiaries to use biogas productively to increase incomes. Our business model focuses on conserving the environment, ensuring food security, improving health, education and stimulating productive enterprises. We believe our mission and vision rely on partnership with local and international non-government organizations, private organizations and development partners. Biogas for life.


Founders: Dominick Kihanda and Cosmas Muhagachi

Watch this space for more daily updates from the Entrepreneurship team

Ditches, digging and dirty hoes

We’ve been in Dar es Salaam for over 6 weeks now, and there are only so many meetings one can attend, schedules one can compile or timelines one can make before getting restless.

So in order to satisfy this insatiable desire for some physical productivity – we resolved that today we would engage in some good old-fashioned manual labour.

Our objective got off to a flying start when we arrived at Salma Kikwete Secondary school to find a large group of students wielding hoes and shovels behind the science lab, in what looked like the school’s latest breed of unconventional punishment procedures.

It transpired that the students were in fact preparing a garden for the Jitunze scheme, a social enterprise that aims to help disadvantaged students earn small amounts of money from growing and harvesting crops.


We got stuck in. Amid the 3 of us waving pickaxes around like rusty metal lassoes, Madame Chanafi, the headmistress, arrived. She shot us a confused glance and strolled over. The confused glance was not, as might be expected, directed at the bizarre nature of the situation, but regarding our apparently shoddy pickaxe technique. She laughed, picked up a hoe, and got to work on a particularly stubborn piece of half buried tree trunk.

After recovering from this shame, we scuttled inside and back to familiar territory to speak with Mr Kapinga – aiming to assess Form 1’s progress as a result of the Peer2Peer scheme that CDI set up last summer. The meeting went well, and we put a plan in place to analyse test scores on Monday.


An hour later we left Salma for the next excitement of the day – visiting the engineering project’s sewage network in Vingunguti. After a quick tour from Tristan and Jonathan, we set to work digging a trench alongside the biogas generator. Having perfected my digging skills after Episode 1 of labour at the school this morning, I felt pretty confident in my excavating abilities.

This confidence was short lived however; as Jonathan soon came over and told me in no uncertain terms that I was making every mistake in the book. Being unfamiliar with said trench-digging literature, I resigned to letting him demonstrate the official technique, and then resumed pickaxing.


Robbie commented that he had never seen anyone look so awkward with a pickaxe. I couldn’t help but wonder what the other pickaxe-filled occasions he was using as points of comparison were, but I kept quiet, as he proceeded to hit himself in the shin with his shovel.

Alex continued to hack away at the rock with limited success, and Ade took scenic photos of the events as the sun began to set on the informal settlement and its adjacent pond of raw sewage. Despite the pungent smell and occasional sightings of solid human excrement, the atmosphere was actually really lovely, and we sat down by the newly formed ditch and looked back fondly on our day’s work.


Robbie took it upon himself to puncture this serenity, ensuring that everyone was aware of the bright red blister on his palm, and consequently declaring that he was done with physical exertion for the day.

Alex, Ade and I nodded wearily and we departed from Vingunguti, now in complete darkness, for the long Bajaji ride home.

Alice Pavey, Education Project volunteer

A brief lesson in Kiswahili

Five weeks ago, the CDI team landed in in the warm and dusty city of Dar es Salaam. After 36 hours of travel, our excitement still glowed faintly from behind weary eyes. We had arrived. A man named Amos stacked our bags into the back of a taxi like tetris blocks and set off into the tepid evening, buzzing with music and mosquitos.

It took us the length of this one very difficult journey  home from the airport to realise we would achieve nothing over the summer without mastering some basic Kiswahili. Several volunteers had taken classes prior to our 9 week trip and by now were pretty good. Inspired, I decided to make my best effort to learn some of the local lingo.

It started off well. In the engineering team, we interact with students, community members and government authorities daily so we worked hard to commit a few key greetings to memory. Equipped with those, and some less conventional phrases such as  ‘ni wapi majitaka?’ (where is the wastepond?), we managed to get from place to place and even impress a few community members. Soon, we had ‘mambos’ and ‘poas’ slipping off the tongue with ease and diplome.

To my delight, everyone was more than willing to let me practise. Tanzania is known for being a friendly country, and when a ‘muzungu’ (white person) hops on a local daladala enthusiastically spouting  clumsy Swahili phrases, it doesn’t take long for a conservation to strike up.

It was brilliant. I chatted away in broken Swahili and even understood a few words back. Better still, everyone loved it. I’d throw around a few greetings, explain confidently that I only spoke ‘kidogo Kiswahili (a bit of swahili)’ and my new friends would erupt into laughter, encouraging me further.

It was so great that, five weeks on, I proudly decided to show off my new conversational skills to the students we worked with. I began the ‘mambo-poa’ routine and waited for their praise with a grin on my face. The praise never came. Instead, I was greeted with bewilderment. They weren’t responding. Why not? This was the routine that had earned me friends on dala dala’s everywhere! ‘…Kidogo Kiswahili?’ I offered again, hopefully. ‘Martha’, replied Rukia, ‘I don’t know what you are trying to say, but you just said you speak Mohawk Swahili.’


Martha Stokes, Engineering Project Director

Doing good by doing well, doing well by doing good

Perhaps the most important question in development is not “What?” but “How?” A few days ago, the 193 member states of the UN agreed on 17 new sustainable development goals for 2030. There is unanimous worldwide support for the eradication of poverty. However, there is no clear consensus as how these goals can be achieved, with opposing schools of thoughts that have emerged (e.g. Planners VS Searchers, a dichotomy defined by Easterly).

Interacting with the students at the DAREnterprisers programme has left me convinced that Social Entrepreneurship is an effective model in the development effort in Tanzania. The social entrepreneur is motivated by profit and “Smithian” self-interest in the running of their business, but at the same time seeks to solve social problems in society. Issues are extremely wide ranging, such as the problem of poor water supply, lack of electric lighting in a rural setting, or urban pollution and sanitation. The local social entrepreneur would understand the local context and problems much better than external aid agencies, hence is better positioned to solve these issues. In fact, every problem facing the nation is an opportunity for business and profit. And a thriving social business would continue to benefit the greater community. Thus, the social entrepreneur does good by doing well, and does well by doing good.

Nothing excites me more than listening to the dreams and business ideas of my Tanzanian friends. What strikes me is the unbridled optimism possessed by each individual – daring to dream big in search of solutions to the problems plaguing the nation. During the ideation session, the students were encouraged to let their imagination go wild, to encourage creativity and defer judgment. I’m eagerly awaiting August 21, where each team will be pitch their business ideas at a conference that will bring together the most influential in Tanzania.

More must be done to support these social entrepreneurs. Capital is scarce in developing countries. Information sharing and incubation efforts can be improved. However, recent developments in Tanzania have left me optimistic. The NEEC has collaborated with the Tanzanian Investment Bank to increase funding opportunities for startups. The hope is for the various stakeholders in the entrepreneurship eco-system to collaborate and work together to support more social businesses, ensuring economic progress and development in Tanzania.

Shaun Teo, Entrepreneurship Volunteer 

One week to go until the Health Entrepreneurship Course

After a somewhat rushed month we are almost ready for the Health Entrepreneurship Course starting on 17 August in Muhimbili University of Health and Allied Sciences (MUHAS).

For two weeks the participants will try to enhance their skills and mind sets which are necessary for future business development through nine subjects: Strategy, Marketing, Financial Management, Operations Management, Human Capital Management, Customer Relationship Management, Business Basics (Presentation, Documentation, and Negotiation), Business Planning, and How to start SME in Tanzania. With integrated methods: lecture, case study, and exercise/action-learning, the attendees would gain not only academic knowledge but also practical ways of application. Continue reading →

My experience with CDI

Dominick, a student participating on CDI’s entrepreneurship programme talks about his experience with the organisation

The experience with CDI has been more than expectation because I experienced what I could not imagine. An experience where each day after training by very competent facilitators, the entrepreneurial knowledge and other life skills were permanently written in my mind. I experienced how CDI strongly intends to equip young people in East Africa to become successful entrepreneurs and finally fulfill their dreams of making positive changes. Continue reading →

Community research is complete!

A couple of weeks ago Martha and I spent a morning training local community members in the art of social surveying. In order to improve on our approach from last year, and avoid the project becoming yet another ‘Mzungu’ led intervention, we wanted to ensure our primary research was led by the community as much as possible. This participatory method, known by those in development circles as ‘enumeration’, allows locals to better engage with the project and promotes a sense of ownership. 11857725_10205046667389207_2032907999_n During the session we worked as a team to adapt the initial set of questions I had drawn up. This exercise turned out to be incredibly useful, when it transpired that asking about the number of meals cooked per day in a household was a rather insensitive question – likely to be met with refusal to answer, or at worst, a slap in the face… With many a potentially awkward situation avoided, it was time to pilot our surveys with a couple of households on the network, before surveying the whole route the following day. The information attained will no doubt be invaluable for many strands of the project, from developing a sustainable biogas business model, to better understanding the motivations for adoption of the system. Later in the week, whilst the rest of the engineering team grafted hard refining the final costs of the system, I continued with some social research and spent the day with a household on the network. The rationale behind this was to better understand day-to-day life in Vingunguti and also to observe daily hygiene practices first hand; research suggests that when data is collected using surveys, answers regarding hygiene matters are often misrepresented. Screen Shot 2015-08-09 at 14.15.35 The day started when I was led into a bedroom where a woman named Haleema lived. It was not what I was expecting. A TV in the corner of the room, set at an extremely high volume, played dubbed over Swahili movies. I would see a variety of these as the day went on, each one featuring worse acting and stranger plot twists than the last! Also in the room was a large bed, a fridge and a sofa. I later learnt that despite her young age, Haleema shared the space with her 6-year-old daughter, who was at school when I arrived. As I settled in for the day, we talked of her perceptions of Vingunguti, family life, and her future ambitions. I was somewhat surprised to learn that Haleema felt a strong connection to Vingunguti, despite have only moved there a year previously. All too soon, it was time to prepare lunch. And I was cooking. As Haleema pointed to various vegetables and kitchen implements, I did my best to guess what to do with them. I found myself pulverising a carrot, grating tomatoes, and peeling unripe banana’s – something which I discovered I am particularly talented at. My knife skills, however, were not up to scratch, and Haleema felt it was safer if she chopped up the onions. Nevertheless, the final product, a banana stew, turned out to be an unexpected success, and now I fear I will be asked back to cook every day… (and perhaps to multiple houses as news of my achievement travelled fast throughout Vingunguti) I expected to be continuing with household chores after lunch – but it appeared it was time to relax. Yet another movie was chosen, and the day ended with me watching Haleema and her younger sister having a mid afternoon nap…

Emma Fletcher, Engineering Project Volunteer