One of the last posts from Tanzania, is to explain a bit about the project that I have spent the last eight months working on and to thank the amazing team I worked with.
Those who know me, will know my passion for youth entrepreneurship, coupled with Tanzania, having the tenth largest youth population globally. With 66% under the age of 25 already. How lucky was I to be placed as VSO volunteer to YEE.
The Youth Economic Empowerment (YEE) project was a 3 year project focused on improving and increasing access to employment opportunities as well as promoting economic empowerment. YEE works directly with marginalised young women and men, to ensure that they have market-relevant skills, improved links to services which enhance their ability to access self and wage employment, increased knowledge of government support.The youth were either trained at the local vocational training authority (VETA) or received their training via outreach master crafters and then given access to government loans and income generating opportunities and encouraged to strengthen their voice by joining local youth councils..
The project, I believe, has been a success: it worked directly with 9,100 marginalised young men and women (even providing mothers with child care during their training); 51% so far have obtained employment; all graduates have opportunities to take loans and start their own businesses;and most impressive of all, a rare treat in the development sector, YEE ceases soon with the Government/VETA taking on the project model directly.
Here are some stories about just a few of the amazing YEE graduates that I got to know.
Faki, the Carpenter
Married with a five month old baby, Faki had achieved standard 7 at school. He entered the carpentry industry straight after school, something he had always wanted to do since a young age. Having attended one of the YEE Roadshow’s Faki hoped that the vocational training and Mastercraft mentoring process given through YEE would better professionalise his skills. Nyangao market, his local market, is an ideal location for furniture orders that Faki works to fulfill, with supervision from his Mastercrafter.
Faki’s enthusiasm holds no bounds, he is an active member of his YEE financial groups and was voted by his peers to be a leader of both his Income Generating Association Group and the Regional Youth Forum.
When asked about what he thinks makes a good leader, Faki responded:
“Having an understanding of how other people live is the best attribute to good leadership”.
Mwajuma – the kick ass tailor
Mwajuma is 28 years of age. She studied until standard 7 and has one child who is 11 years old. Her mother died when she was aged 3 and her father is a farmer. Mwajuma, worked as a bar maid at the one of the Lindi restaurants. She signed up for the tailoring training and now Mwajuma is a mastercraft trainer herself. Also the Chairperson of the National Youth Council and a talented and inspiring role model, active in all the local initiatives from a YEE spokesperson at the local media, representing her fellow youth at high profile government meeting in Dodoma to participating in theatre for development project around Lindi. Her dream is to become a International tailor and designer. I don’t ever doubt that she will make it, with all that energy and style throughout.
Sixtus – the welder
Sixtus aged 26 is the only brother amongst three siblings, in his farming family. He recalls from a young age being impressed by a famous welder in his community, which inspired him to follow the career path. It was Sixtus’ uncle who told him about the YEE project and training opportunities available. On joining the welding course, Sixtus aside from relishing the training and his teacher’s knowledge, also particularly enjoyed the opportunity to communicate with his peer welder students. On the flip side, the challenges he faced were the large class numbers and having to juggle a full timetable to ensure attendance at all the lessons and practicals too.
Sixtus’ motivations come from his family and his overall desire to better their income and lives. His ambitions are to one day have his own workshop and employ youth in his area, providing them with the same opportunities that he was given.
I recall being stranded one day in Mtwara, on an empty long road, feeling unwell and despondent and who should call out “mam’ help me with my luggage . Then at the Annual Conference last week, after a busy Day 1, having helped to organise the conference and wondering if I could survive the trial and tribulations of 2 more days, who should surprise me with a wonderful gift.
All this could not be achieved without the amazing YEE team in Lindi and Mtwara.
We also had others who have now left. And last, but not least my counterpart Angel, who taught me to slow down and some fab dance moves