Happiness Project in Tanzania – Karibu! Welcome! Entrepreneurship is the focus of the Happiness Project in Tanzania. An entrepreneur, according to dictionary.com has a French origin as “one who undertakes”. If this is true, then everyone can be classified as an entrepreneur – we all start something, take risks and manage new start-ups in our life using our knowledge and skills and partnerships. This is what we successfully completed in Tanzania.
A small diverse group, three NSCC students and ten VHTTI students, created, developed and implemented three small mini ventures on the campus of VHTTI. They wrote small business plans and presented the results to faculty and friends at the training institute. They made a profit from their business ventures and donated a portion of the profits to a small cultural women’s group with the goal of preserving traditional culture in the Meru tribe. This is a very traditional view of entrepreneurship – identify a problem in the community, create a service or product to solve the problem, market it, make a profit and distribute wealth with shareholders and stakeholders.
However, I saw more than just traditional entrepreneurship. I witnessed a transformation in how everyone learned new ways to communicate using language, images and symbols and active listening. I also saw learners undertake opportunities to explore their environment and the effects of climate change and how this brings new challenges to our day to day lives. We also took time to be mindful of our work and learning – taking the time to focus and slow down. We developed a better understanding of teamwork, Tanzanian and Canadian history and culture and how to blend our diverse ideas together with our unique world views. I also saw learners develop healthy and meaningful relationships, partnerships and friendships. All of this is entrepreneurial.
Personally, the moment that struck me the most on this journey was the short intimate conversation I had with Nkasiyoi Pallangyo at ee-Yeiyo ee-yeiyoboma.com She has a small museum which is helping to educate and preserve the Meru culture. We talked about how traditional culture and way of life is being replaced and forgotten. She is not trying to go back in time, but rather take history and move it forward using a positive and progressive endeavor/small business. She values the importance of the natural environment and how we need to protect it for our survival. She also encourages questions so we can learn and grow. I loved talking to her and was deeply moved by her simplistic approach and natural desire to educate. I need to take this mindset and replicate it in my personal life and in my classroom. We need to draw knowledge from our indigenous cultures and traditional approaches to help solve our current problems – we need to be more entrepreneurial and respectful of our diverse mindsets.
Travel evokes many images and feelings, and each are very individual and diverse. We travel to experience and see something new, hear different languages, try different foods, learn new songs and dances, and best of all meet new “rafikis”. Travel also transforms us in provocative and meaningful ways. I have returned from Tanzania and I am still processing the changes within that I have experienced. Travelling abroad is incredibly rewarding and I am grateful for the opportunity. My NSCC Happiness Project travel companions (Kellie, Janet, Nicole, Kayla and Esther) were phenomenal; their support and encouragement ensured that I strive beyond my capabilities. The VETA staff and faculty were supportive and I will always have a place in my heart for them. I am also thankful that my NSCC colleagues, friends and family continue to support my desire to travel internationally and fulfill my continual thirst for learning. Somewhere in my research prior to travelling I found this Kiswahili proverb which is very appropriate: Kila ndege huruka na mbawa zake “Every bird flies with its own wings”
Faculty, School of Business
NSCC Truro Campus