CALA’s Team Tanzanite: Pioneering a Sustainable Future for Tanzania’s Youth in Roadside Vending

Project: “Empowering Tanzania’s Youth: Roadside Vendors’ Path to Structured Access To Markets & Employment

By Anthony Muchoki

AGRA’s Center for African Leaders in Agriculture (CALA) Programme stands as a harbinger of change of progressive leadership. On December 8th, 2023, during the second graduation in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, 78 graduates from various countries showcased their ingenuity and leadership skills. 

A critical requirement of the program was the formation of groups by the graduates from each country to develop an Action Learning Project (ALP), a hallmark of the leadership development journey.

ALP makes emerging leaders apply their insights to real-world challenges. Among the graduates of this programme, Team Tanzanite from Tanzania shone brightly. Their unique contribution lies in addressing a critical and often overlooked sector: transforming the informal roadside vending, a lifeline for many Tanzanian youths. By injecting structured employment and market access into this sector, Team Tanzanite not only empowered individuals but also illuminated a path toward sustainable economic growth and development in Tanzania.

Team Tanzanite, a multifaceted group from Tanzania, showcased a rich framework of skills and backgrounds. Tulalumba Mloge and Prudence Lugendo from SAGCOT Centre Ltd, offered crucial insights and support, serving as Advisor to SAGCOT CEO and SAGCOT Project Coordinator respectively. 

Amani Temu, representing the Tanzania Horticultural Association (TAHA), brought in-depth knowledge as Chief of Party. At the academic forefront, Dr. Primitiva Andrea Mboyerwa from Sokoine University of Agriculture (SUA) contributed her expertise as an Assistant Lecturer. The financial and business acumen was provided by Frank Nyabundege, the Chief Executive Officer at Tanzania Agricultural Development Bank (TADB).. This diverse blend of experiences from agriculture, academia, banking, and strategic planning was instrumental in the success of their innovative project. All of them share a common goal: to play a significant role in Tanzania’s agricultural development, as the country aims to become a leading food producer in Africa. 

In Tanzania, the socio-economic landscape is marked by a high youth population, with many engaging in informal roadside vending. This sector, vital for income generation, faces significant challenges: limited access to capital, structured employment, and agribusiness skills. The lack of formalization not only hinders vendors’ growth prospects but also contributes to broader economic inefficiencies. In this context, roadside vending, while a ubiquitous feature of Tanzanian life, operates without the support systems that could transform it into a more productive and sustainable sector. Team Tanzanite’s project addresses these critical gaps, seeking to uplift both individuals and the economy.

Team Tanzanite identified the challenges in Tanzania’s informal roadside vending sector, particularly for the Vijana Wauza Vitunguu (VIWAVI) group in Kilolo District, Iringa. Their ALP was formulated to transform this sector by enhancing productivity and market access. The objectives were to provide structured employment, improve financial and agribusiness skills, and increase access to capital. This strategic focus aimed to elevate the VIWAVI group from informal vending to a more structured and sustainable economic activity, thereby setting a precedent for similar groups across Tanzania.

Team Tanzanite’s strategy involved comprehensive market population surveys along key roads, specialized training programs in agribusiness and financial management, and building partnerships with local and national stakeholders. This approach aimed to quantify and understand the vendor population, empower them with essential skills, and foster a support network crucial for their transition to a structured market. These strategies were designed not only to uplift the VIWAVI group but also to create a replicable model for roadside vendors across Tanzania.

Team Tanzanite identified the need for structured employment and market access within Tanzania’s informal roadside vending sector. Focusing on the Vijana Wauza Vitunguu (VIWAVI) group in Kilolo District, Iringa, their Action Learning Project (ALP) aimed to enhance productivity and market access for these vendors. The team’s objectives included improving agribusiness skills, fostering financial management capabilities, and facilitating access to capital. This project was designed to transform the livelihoods of VIWAVI members, transitioning them from informal to more structured, sustainable economic activities.

Team Tanzanite’s strategic approach was multifaceted. They conducted extensive market population surveys along major roads to understand the scale and dynamics of roadside vending. To enhance the skills and knowledge of the vendors, they organized training programs in agribusiness and financial management. Crucially, they also focused on building partnerships with local and national stakeholders, ensuring that the VIWAVI group could access broader markets and capital. This comprehensive strategy aimed to create sustainable change in the sector, empowering the youth with the tools needed for success in a more formalized economic environment.

Team Tanzanite’s implementation journey began with the comprehensive survey of roadside market populations, revealing key insights into the scale of informal vending. The team then embarked on targeted training programs in agribusiness and financial management, designed to uplift the VIWAVI group’s skills. Throughout, they engaged with local communities and institutions, facing challenges such as resource limitations and initial skepticism. However, through perseverance and strategic partnerships, they achieved significant milestones, including improved market access and enhanced productivity for the VIWAVI group, paving the way for a more structured and sustainable sector.

Team Tanzanite’s project led to significant impacts and outcomes. The VIWAVI group, through structured employment initiatives, gained better market access and financial empowerment. These tangible results included improved productivity, the creation of more formalized employment opportunities, and enhanced financial literacy among the youth. Their success in connecting the informal sector to more structured markets not only uplifted the VIWAVI group but also set a precedent for similar transformations across Tanzania’s informal vending sector

The sustainability and future prospects of Team Tanzanite’s project are anchored in its design, which fosters local ownership, involves key stakeholders, and establishes scalable models. By empowering the VIWAVI group with skills and market access, the project lays a foundation for continued growth and replication. The involvement of local authorities, financial institutions, and community groups ensures ongoing support and potential expansion of this model to other regions, promising a sustainable impact on Tanzania’s informal vending sector and beyond.

Team Tanzanite’s insights emphasize the importance of understanding local contexts and the need for collaborative, multi-sectoral approaches to address complex socio-economic challenges. Their project underscores the potential for structured interventions to transform informal sectors, offering a blueprint for other African economies facing similar issues. These reflections advocate for innovative, community-centric strategies to empower youth and drive sustainable development, highlighting a path forward for nations striving to integrate informal economies into their broader economic frameworks.

Their project, titled “Empowering Tanzania’s Youth: Roadside Vendors’ Path to Structured Access To Markets & Employment,” focused on a critical issue in Tanzania: the informal roadside vending sector. The initiative aimed to revolutionize this sector by providing structured employment and broadening market access for the youth, tackling the challenges of limited capital, structured employment opportunities, and essential agribusiness skills.

Problem Statement and Background of the Project: In Tanzania, the youth represent a substantial part of the population and labor force, yet many are engaged in informal businesses. The project identified the need to create structured youth employment and formalize their activities.

Objective of the Action Learning Project: The primary goal was to enhance productivity and market access for the Vijana Wauza Vitunguu (VIWAVI) youth group in Kilolo District, Iringa. This included facilitating their access to structured employment and the formalization of ten youth groups by December 2023.

Approach Used by Team Tanzanite: The team’s strategy involved quantifying the population of roadside market vendors along the Tanzania-Zambia Road (TANZAM) and preparing for the upscale of the VIWAVI Model.

Implementation of the ALP: Various training programs in record keeping, climate-smart agriculture, and good agricultural practices were conducted. Key partners like Sokoine University of Agriculture and SAGCOT Centre played significant roles in training and linking the youth group with financial institutions and markets.

Outcomes Achieved So Far: Notable achievements include the linkage of VIWAVI to Mabibo Market and securing an onion aggregation facility, along with the signing of a compact agreement with partners for continued support.

Sustainability/Ownership: Partners: The sustainability of the project is ensured through partnerships with TADB, PASS, LGA, NEEC, and other stakeholders, planning to use the VIWAVI model as a template for upscaling along major roads in Tanzania.

Implementation and Leadership Lessons: The project highlighted the importance of a collaborative approach, understanding local needs, data-driven decision-making, and innovation in problem-solving. It also emphasized the value of teamwork and a focus on sustainability and resilience in the face of challenges.

Team Tanzanite’s project is about the potential of young Tanzanians and demonstrates the impact of structured, well-planned initiatives in transforming lives and communities. Their work not only addresses immediate economic challenges but also sets a precedent for future endeavors in Tanzania and beyond, marking a significant step towards the country’s broader developmental goals.