WE’RE BACK IN BUSINESS PART III: Lessons from Leguruki

As Part III of our series “We’re back in business,” we take a look at our new programs since Coffee Kids re-opened its doors and started operating as a program of Hanns R. Neumann Stiftung North America in late 2015. In this part, we set our sights on Tanzania where our project “Leguruki Rural Business Workshops” began implementation in June.

Leguruki Rural Business Workshops in motion!

Our project in Tanzania started in June with one existing group of young people that I met in February, and the creation of two new youth groups who have come together in part to participate in the Coffee Kids program. The program is aimed at providing business skills, seed capital, and mentorship to young coffee farmers looking to secure stable, year-round income by starting side business meant to supplement their annual coffee pay out.

While the business skills training phase has just started in Leguruki, the groups also learned about organizational development and how to be effective as a group.  It is early, but here’s what we have already learned from the project.

It can be hard working in groups

What does it take to bring together a group of young people to learn, problem solve, and create together?  More importantly, how do you keep a group engaged in the long term?  Think about the times that you have worked in groups and the training that is sometimes needed just to get you working together effectively.  This is also the case for new youth groups on the ground.

Agricultural innovation exists – get out of the classroom to see it!

The group that I met on my visit in February has been eager to get started for some time. Members need motivation in the form of field visits, not just classroom learning. One of the Field Trips that they attended was the Nane-Nane Fair.  Nane-nane is Swahili for “eight-eight,” representing August 8, a day in Tanzania set aside to celebrate farmers and recognize their contribution to the Tanzanian economy. During the event, farmers from the area showcase their products and network with other farmers, agricultural organizations and business stakeholders. The youth groups got to experience innovation and possibilities in agriculture first hand which will help them as they decide what business ideas to pursue.

Read about our visit with local youth in February here: “Better Coffee and Gender Justice Must go Together.”

If participation by young women is low, find out why and work to change that.

Word had incorrectly gotten around the village that land ownership was necessary to participate in Coffee Kids programs, which excluded many young women.  This is not the case, and once that point was clarified, membership of young women has increased.  It also highlighted another issue though, which is that traditionally it is the young men who inherit land, with the idea that the young women will get married and leave to work on their husband’s land.  This is not always the case, and sensitizing parents to give land to daughters can help keep land in the family.

Read our thoughts on gender inclusion in Leguruki here: “Better Coffee and Gender Justice Must go Together.”

The village is excited about Coffee Kids, but we can’t reach everyone

People who work in international development are very aware of the need for setting clear expectations on the ground.  People get their hopes up when they hear about new projects in their area.  It can be difficult to control the excitement, and to make sure that expectations aren’t created by us, or by others, but you have to be as clear as possible in communications.

 

This post is Part III of our year-long series “We’re back in business.” Stay tuned for more posts in the series as we walk you through our first year back in action.