Sua supports graduates to start up own businesses

EMPOWERMENT


The unemployment challenge
LACK of entrepreneurship and poor financial management have been cited among factors that hinder most of university and college graduates to startup businesses. This has resulted into high rate of youth unemployment.

Unemployment, especially among graduates, poses a great challenge to the government and the society in generally.
In an effort to solve the problem, Sokoine University of Agriculture (Sua) through its Sokoine University Graduate Entrepreneurs Cooperative (Sugeco) has introduced an incubation project under the Department of Agricultural Economics and Agribusiness (Daea).
Sugeco’s incubation programme is vital for enhancing graduates’ skills and knowledge on planning to start up their own business, and therefore, reduce government’s burden of creating employment opportunities particularly for youth leaving universities and colleges.

Sugeco is ‘conveyor belt’
Sugeco was officially registered in July 2011 under the Cooperative Act (2003), as a Private Sector Organisation, but works very closely with Sua as a conveyor belt of knowledge and a partner in agribusiness development.
Sugeco aims to build skills of the graduates to start up their own business as well as access support from financial institutions.
Its Executive Director, Revocatus Kimario, says that their organisation had only 40 founding members, but apparently the membership base has grown to over 360.
Kimario also notes that members are individual Sua graduates and ongoing students as well as the associate members.
He points out that Sugeco provides training on mindset transformation, entrepreneurship and business plan development, and business weaving as well as networking to finance, markets, technical and business services.
“Sugeco is also providing advocacy and business information services as well as research and product development and testing,” he says.

Who are Sugeco partners?
In achieving its goals, Sugeco partners with various organizations to support agribusiness development services and start up the new projects.
“Sugeco, as a private sector organisation independent of Sua which works very closely with Sua as a conveyor belt of knowledge and partner in agribusiness development, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the CRDB Bank to finance enterprises developed by Sua graduates,” he says.

He adds, “Our vision is to create a future generation of successful and businesspersons who transform Tanzanian culture to value entrepreneurship and help to create vibrant private economy.”
We also established Sugeco prepare, enable, and support knowledge-intensive, innovative entrepreneurs as they build successful businesses along agricultural and agribusiness value chains throughout Tanzania, Kimario observes.
Boosting entrepreneurship
Sugeco facilitates learning and experimenting with new ideas, technologies and businesses to stimulate start up businesses.
The organisation needs to position the youth in Tanzania to enable them to experiment, test and explore business ideas to support entrepreneurship.
It also works to ensure that unnecessary industry-specific regulations and red-tape measures that block innovative entrepreneurs are avoided as well as targeting interventions towards agribusiness start-ups that are kick starters to drive the overall development agenda of Tanzania.
Sugeco encourages participants to have vision of creating business, employment and make significant contribution to the economy. It further encouraged participants to transform their ideas into reality.

Govt urged to change
Sugeco urges government bodies to review their policies and regulations, especially in agriculture sector, to ensure it creates the enabling environment for graduates and youth to start projects in this sector.
The organisation in collaboration with BEST-AC also works to enhance technical dialogues between students, graduates and various people from agriculture-related business sectors to share experience on various issues pertaining to sector plans, policy and regulatory, financial and credit schemes, business opportunities within the country and beyond, and many more.
The organsiation is also creating employment opportunities, transferring new and modern technologies to surrounding communities (through capacity building to the out growers), and supports efforts geared to boost food security, curb poverty, spur industrial growth, improve infrastructure development, and reduce post-harvest losses.
Sugeco’s recommendations

Sugeco seeks good collaboration between research and development partners as well as government willingness to use research results and continue supporting planning using research facts. The organisation recommends creativity and innovation at all levels of enterprise development.

Achievements in the last 3 years
Over the last three years, Sugeco has worked very closely with the CRDB Bank in implementing the Starter up Financing Pilot Project.
The organisation also worked with the ACAI-Support organization to build capacity to local farmers in Rufiji District, Coastal Region and with the BEST Dialogue in advocacy projects in government offices and ministries.
The organisation also played a role in enhancing the sugar regulatory framework, conducting of entrepreneurship and business planning course (WB/CRDB/MEBTI), implementation of the industrial internship programme under the USAID.
Sugeco also played a role in facilitating a number of other projects, including the Orange Flesh Sweet Potato (CIP/RAC/HKI), Regional Rice Trade (Kilimo Trust) and worked with iAGRI, Feed the Future, and USAID in formulating the Sugeco Strategic Plan.
Sugeco is a member of Tanzania Horticulture Association (Taha), Agricultural Council of Tanzania (ACT), and Tanzania Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture (TCCIA).
It is running a number of agri-business projects as well as provided technical support to its members to acquire relevant skills and knowledge to start and run their own business.
The projects include: green beans projects, integrated fish farming, poultry farming, sustainable technologies for drying fruits and vegetables using solar and electric driers, packaging dried fruit and vegetables, bakeries, beekeeping and honey processing, and alternative use of by-products such as dried flowers.
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Quote:
“Sugeco provides training on mindset transformation, entrepreneurship and business plan development, and business weaving as well as networking to finance, markets, technical and business services.