wesley College business incubator:
Unlocking the potential of micro and small businesses in tanzania
Bernard Makachia, Founder and CEO of Chabri Energy Co., was one of the first entrepreneurs to benefit from Tukuwe.
In Swahili, Tukuwe means “to grow together.” It is also the name of Wesley College’s business incubator, which is designed to help launch new businesses and marketable product ideas. As part of Wesley College's Department of Business and Entrepreneurship, Tukuwe provides practical training, mentoring, and coaching to entrepreneurs in Mwanza, Tanzania and the surrounding region.
Why an Entrepreneurship Center?
Tanzania has had a robust GDP growth for the last decade, averaging seven percent annually. However, a large portion of this growth is not in the small-to-medium enterprise sector, which provides most Tanzanians with employment opportunities. In particular, there is currently a lack of good jobs for the 900,000 young Tanzanians who enter the job market every year. In contrast, the market typically adds only 50,000 – 60,000 new jobs a year, with many of them not appropriate for entry level workers. As a result, the majority of youth (representing 50% of Tanzania's population) are not formally employed and instead depend on their own ability to create employment for themselves.
Consequently, entrepreneurs are playing an increasingly important role in transforming Tanzania’s economy. Rather than relying solely on efforts to attract existing businesses from other locations, many communities are recognizing the need to help residents build new businesses from the ground up. This is where Tukuwe comes in.
What does Tukuwe offer?
Tukuwe is not another training program, instead it works one-on-one with entrepreneurs, providing both individual mentoring (general support) and coaching (area-specific knowledge and resources). Founders of start-up businesses receive help in one-to-four key areas: executive functions, marketing, supply chain management, and preparing for capital investment opportunities. To help keep launch costs low, Tukuwe provides access to affordable work space. Connections to a robust network of markets, financial institutions, business and industry professionals, and government agencies help jumpstart efforts to launch, grow, and stabilize new businesses.
How are entrepreneurs benifiting?
Bernard Makachia, Founder and CEO of Chabri Energy Company has been one of the first entrepreneurs to benefit from Tukuwe. Bernard's company produces 'Kuni Smart' briquettes from bio-waste. Along with providing a very affordable option for cooking fuel, Kuni Smart helps to mitigate extensive deforestation in Tanzania. According to Bernard, mitigating climate change and employing vulnerable youth were two of the main motivating factors in starting his business. With the help of Tukuwe, Bernard's company has grown from one to 10 employees in the first three years.
"I came from a background in non-profit work," Bernard told us. He called venturing into the business world a life-changing experience. "There were many things I wasn't prepared for. Luckily, I had Wesley College in the initial stages of my start-up and that helped me a lot. One piece of advice I tell everyone is 'find a business incubator.' They will give you ideas you didn't have. They will help you with initial planning. We all do need to be guided and helped."