Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Future Forward: Youth Innovations for Employment in Africa challenge


Ashoka and The MasterCard Foundation have launched the Future Forward: Youth Innovations for Employment in Africa challenge to find the next generation of changemakers with bold new ideas and projects - for young people by young people - that will increase employment opportunities in Africa.

We’re looking for young people, between the ages of 18-30, from sub-Saharan Africa to join this community and share their solution that is tackling youth employment issues. Top entrants, who submit their solution by the early entry deadline of October 15th or the final entry deadline of November 5, 2014, will be eligible for prizes including a monetary prize and an all-expenses-paid trip to the Ashoka Globalizer Summit in South Africa. At this Summit, winners will be connected to other innovators, partners, and investors, in addition to receiving mentorship and training to help their ideas and projects grow.


We are reaching out to you because we are keen to create a network of innovators and partners. If you know of any individuals or organizations that would be a good fit for this challenge please reach out to my colleague Lauren Parnell Marino (

Help spread the word – attached you can find language that you could use to spread the word on your social media accounts, newsletters, and blogs. You can also help to spread the word using the attached e-card (for email and for facebook/twitter), or by joining the conversation on Twitter using the hashtag #AfricaYouthFwd.

JOIN THE ONGOING CONVERSATION – Webinar on November 4th 8am ET:

We invite you to share insights in a dynamic ongoing online conversation which features disruptive solutions and innovations for youth employment in Africa. Catch up with past online panel conversations, blog series, twitter chats and youth insights here.

You can also join the conversation during the upcoming webinar in the ongoing webinar series. The next one will take place on November 4th at 8am ET. You can join the conversation on twitter using the hashtag #AfricaYouthFwd.

​Tweet to announce the webinar:
Shattering Myths and Talking Trends in Youth Employment Innovations. Let's discuss on 11/4! @Ashoka @changemakers


We’ll be developing an innovation guide and a toolkit to provide tips and other practical advice that equip people with the how-to’s for developing impactful solutions for youth employment. In the meantime, sign up for our listserv. And be sure to read about solutions, get to know innovators, and stay informed about the upcoming opportunities to engage at

Monday, May 12, 2014

"Having the right mindset and networking usurp talents in you." - Andrew Mahiga

"Before letting into a little bit about myself and my work, I’d like to share a life lesson that is something that I hope we as young people come to realize rather sooner than later. I also don’t want what I write afterwards to influence your perception of who I am and what I’m doing. As Tanzanians specifically, and Africans in general, we tend to quickly accept our fate – our situations at face value. We tend to pass the buck to people, things and situations – environments we grew in, schools we went to and situations. That type of thinking is very dangerous to ourselves and to the people around us. Everybody has personal battles which have nothing to do with the above mentioned circumstances.

I am Andrew Mahiga, Managing Director of Maanisha! ( I was born in Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania and moved around the world soon after. I studied at Olympio Primary School in Upanga for 1st Grade then moved to Greenacres Boarding School in Kenya for 2nd Grade. My mother was awarded a Master’s degree scholarship to study in Australia. Subsequently, I completed my 3rd to 5th grades in Australia.

I returned to Tanzania to complete 6th and 7th Grades before going to Swaziland (Southern Africa) for 5 years of high school. My university education was in The City College of New York (U.S.A). I received a Bachelor’s Degree in International Studies. University period was probably the most important time in my life. Not only did I discover my passion, but I also discovered myself – what made me happy, what made me sad, how I acted around people etc.

My globe trotting exposed to different cultures and mindsets with people around me influencing my perception. I developed a passion for marketing, media (and social media), advertising, fashion and branding.

So that is where I began volunteering and interning while studying and realized success has more to do with whom you associate with from whose brains you can pick up something."

Read the rest of the article here.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

How to Overcome the Struggles of Being a Young Entrepreneur

Via Entrepreneur Magazine.

"Editor's Note: The Grind is a weekly column that asks a revolving cast of young founders to take us through the daily rigors of running a business, as well as offer up advice on how they achieved milestones or overcame challenges. Follow The Grind on Twitter with the hashtag #ENTGrind.

By: Sarah Haselkorn
Image credit: Geoff Story

Being a young entrepreneur definitely has its advantages, but there are also downsides. I developed the idea and the business plan for Green Bean, a healthy restaurant, during my sophomore year at Washington University in St. Louis, Miss. At first, I kept it a secret, worried family and friends would tell me I was crazy for starting a business at such a young age.

When I decided to finally break it to my mom and dad, I remember sitting on the edge of their bed, nervous to tell them I was planning to take on such a huge endeavor. They could definitely sense my nerves. As I began to explain I wanted to open a restaurant, I surprisingly watched my mother's face soften. As soon as I told them my idea, my mom let out a huge sigh of relief and explained she was thrilled to discover I wasn't pregnant.

Telling my parents about my venture was only one of the many hurdles I faced as a teenage entrepreneur. As a young founder, particularly at a non-technical startup, it's extraordinarily tough to earn credibility. In a people-facing business where you're often relying on first impressions to succeed, it's even more difficult.

Although age is just a number, it does pose a variety of challenges for budding entrepreneurs. Here are some of the greatest adversities I faced, and how I overcame them:

1. Being taken seriously. Just like my parents' reaction, strangers were shocked when I told them I owned the business they just ate at.

Related: The Hidden Pain of Being an Entrepreneur

Customers would often ask me at the register if our location was a franchise. When I was able to speak knowledgably about the business, they'd inquire if I owned the place. Upon answering yes, the response was always, "Wow, you're so young!" I always laughed and shrugged it off. "You can do anything," I'd say. The trick is to never give anyone a reason to think you can't do it.

As a young entrepreneur, you have to work harder to prove yourself. You'll never be perfect, and you will make mistakes along the way. Fail gracefully, learn from your mistakes and address them with maturity. Confidence, coupled with unwavering humility, goes a long way.

2. Securing funding. For young entrepreneurs starting out, my first piece of advice would be to aim for a business that doesn't need a lot of capital, as it's really difficult to gain access to finances, especially with banks. Unlike VCs and angels, they require extensive personal credibility and financial history. However, launching a business that requires little cash to start up is not always possible.

For a business like mine where raising VC money would be next to impossible and the need for a lot of upfront capital was required, it felt logical to turn to a bank. Yet, it wasn't an easy path.

The best tip would be to work your assets. The easiest route is family and friends. Pitch yourself, your smarts and your dedication in hopes they will support your financially. Even if they're not willing or able to directly invest money, they might consider signing on a loan with you to help boost your credibility with banks."

Read the rest here.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Tanzania: Local Media - Complex Challenges, New Opportunities

Via AllAfrica.

"THIRTY-THREE years of professional life in journalism in Tanzania is a good time to look back to the past; to take stock of how life has treated you and consider on your next move, if you have one at all. Today's media challenges are quite different from the ones that the previous generation of few Tanzanian journalists faced in the last half of the 20th century.

This is a new setting with the competitiveness of the 24-hour channels, the compulsion to "breaking news"--and many channels openly take credit for it, so as to woo more viewers--the "hunger" of the corporate houses to use the media for purposes different than the dissemination of news. Gone is the era of using typewriters, which made newsrooms noisy in those good old days. New gadgets have replaced the oldfashioned tools which were being used in news collection, processing and distribution. Since the early 1990s, Tanzania has quickly adopted new technology in this computer age, which facilitates quick access to information, unimagined in the past. There's also the social media, which enables ordinary people to express their views. This is a welcome trend but it also poses a huge challenge on how to prevent, without inflicting a censorship of views, irresponsible damage to reputations. The social media - hitherto unthinkable in the era before globalisation, has also changed the rules of journalism and politicians are increasingly getting away from the interview mode of facing journalists and answering questions which could be uncomfortable and resorting instead to having their "one-way," say, through the twitter or the blogs.

Just as politicians are supposed to be accountable to their voters, who elect them to power, so also are journalists accountable to their readers and viewers for the accuracy of information they provide. That was the traditional view. After all, it is information which helps people formulate their opinions, so critical in a democracy. But the younger journalists today do not want to be lectured about how good the old times were. It is also true that the challenges today have become that much more complex. Undeniably, journalism is today gaining interest from better educated recruits in the country. Bigger private newspapers have recruited fresh university graduates for in-house training or training on the job. It has become common for lawyers, engineers, economists, social scientists, mass communication scholars and agronomists to choose journalism as their profession."

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Infographic: Africa From Top To Bottom

For the past decade, Africa's economy has been growing, on average, by 5.3% per year. But that's not the full measure of a continent. A recent study looked at 4 different pillars derived from 88 different indicators to help determine which African countries are succeeding and which ones are still struggling.

Africa From Top To Bottom
Source: Africa From Top To Bottom

Via Master of Finance Organization.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

'The Untold Story of Tanzania's Resource Curse.' - by Robert Ahearne


The recent protests in southern Tanzania were triggered by grievances regarding natural gas discoveries, but regional discontent has deep historical roots.

On 22 May, 2013 protests and street battles erupted in the southern Tanzanian region of Mtwara in response to the government's handling of mineral resource wealth and the contracts it has signed with various international actors.

The army and police were sent to quell the unrest, using teargas and live rounds, in the main southern town of Mtwara and in Mikindani, a smaller town around ten kilometres away in which at least three people died. Government and state-friendly media sources have typically portrayed the events as thoughtless violence and wanton criminality. However, this detracts from a widespread and more urgent malaise about how the government has handled the discovery of natural resources.

The 'hidden agenda' against the south

Until recently, the Mtwara region, on the border with Mozambique and looking across the Indian Ocean, did not receive much attention from the media, multinational corporations or the Tanzania government. The region had been best known for its Makonde wood carvings, its cashew nuts, and little else, and was often perceived as somewhat traditional or backwards.

It is common for Tanzanians from other parts of the country to refer to those from the south - which conventionally means the Ruvuma, Lindi, and Mtwara regions - as washamba, which can be literally translated as 'farmers' but is often used as a pejorative term more accurately translated as 'hicks' or 'peasants'.

These regions are not particularly well connected to the rest of the country, especially owing to the fact that the main trunk road south from Dar es Salaam remains tantalisingly unfinished - in spite of a promise made at independence in 1961 that the road would be completed quickly.

Many view this physical detachment as symbol of southern dislocation from the broader history of Tanzania, and some contend it is the result of deliberate ostracism by central government. Some have argued that this marginalisation has an historical precedent, a 'hidden agenda' against the south that apparently followed the Maji Maji rebellion against German colonial rule (1905-7).

Read the rest of the story here.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

"What the youth could do to bring change in Tanzania." by Julius Bwahama

Dar es Salaam. The fight for the independence of the so-called Tanganyika on December 9, 1961, was peacefully led by Julius Nyerere, Rashidi Kawawa and Abeid Karume. Then followed Jomo Kenyatta and Milton Obote who fought for that of Kenya and Uganda respectively.

This proved that the youth of Africa were indeed men and women of valour who united to turn the dark pages of colonialism into a free continent. They were followed by a generation of old men; they say wisdom goes with grey-hair. True, they served their nations and saw their countries through the cold war while others went through bloody coups and civil wars, but Tanzania stood firm as a shining star of peace. The old wise men of Africa Julius Nyerere, Yoweri Museveni, Kenneth Kaunda and Nelson Mandela will always be remembered for their selfless pursuit of the good things for their nations.

This decade celebrates a change. The recent years record of Joseph Kabila, Barack Obama and Uhuru Kenyatta has put the young blood again on the scene. This time around it has been in style for there are not only presidents but also young Members of Parliament. Following the disputed elections of 2008 that led to the death of more than 1,000 people, most Kenyans must have had their fingers crossed when presidential candidate Uhuru Kenyatta was announced winner. Their worries became worse when his rival Raila Odinga contested the results by filing a petition at the Supreme Court.

However, this time violence was not the answer to election disputes as candidates preached peace and tolerance before their supporters.

The 2013 Kenya General elections has shown a good example to African countries where disputed election results have often led to bloodshed. A case in point is the 2007 election run-off in Sierra Leone and that of Zimbabwe in 2008. The Kenya elections have also shown us that this is no longer the time for old grandpas such as Robert Mugabe, 89, of Zimbabwe to lead their countries; rather it is era of the youth. At 50 President Kenyatta may not be a very young man, but he epitomises the new trend of more and more youngsters venturing into politics.

According to Kawe MP (Chadema) Halima Mdee,35, the recent elections in Kenya have significant lessons that Tanzania politics could learn from, such as live debates of candidates. “President Uhuru Kenyatta, his main rival Raila Odinga and others took part in debates. These give the politicians a chance to represent their policies on social, economic and political issues. “However, in Tanzania debates are not mandatory, thus voters cannot easily identify the candidate with policies that can solve their problems. At the end of it all they choose candidates according to their big names rather than their potentials,” explains Ms Mdee. She says the new constitution of Kenya has given an opportunity for unsatisfied candidates to challenge presidential results in court. Thus at the end of it all the real loser is not left grieving, which is not the case in Tanzania, she explains.

“For Kenyatta coming into power, it is clear that the youth can also take very high posts in politics because at 50 he is not very old. “Being a bit young gives you the chance to do more research and thus bring issues that affect the people. It should also be noted that the majority of East Africans are young,” argues Ms Mdee. She says being a young politician one can easily mingle with the youth in the streets and neighbourhoods apart from easily interacting with them and identifying their problems. Saying most old leaders have nothing to lose, she explains: “I am a councillor in the Kinondoni Municipal Council and MP. Since I started my tenure, MP John Mnyika and I have managed to increase revenue collection from Sh15 billion during the time of our predecessors to Sh23 billion in 2012.

“I have also managed to improve feeder roads in my municipality to tarmac level, in such areas as Sinza and Kijitonyama.

“My advice for the youth seeking to join politics is to be patient and strong because politics is not for the faint-hearted. This is a job with a lot of blames and rivalry. So you have to have a strong heart and faith in order to survive.’’

Another MP, 32-year-old Moses Machali (Kasulu Urban-NCCR-Mageuzi), the Kenya elections have taught us several lessons. One is accepting defeat as did Raila Odinga after his petition was thrown out by the Supreme Court. He says there is a dire need for the Judiciary to be appointed by a separate entity rather than the president as in Tanzania. “We need to change the system because if the president appoints the Judiciary he/she may sometimes be biased because it is difficult to bite the hand that feeds you,” says Mr Machali.

In Kenya Judges and Magistrates are selected by the Judges and Magistrates Vetting Board that forwards names of candidates to the Parliament for approval before officially appointing them. He says young people should also be more involved in politics. “I am happy to see that Mr Kenyatta is not very young but a dynamic man. “In the past CCM had not done enough to accommodate the youth, and that is why most left for the opposition such as Chadema which has very many young politicians,” he explains. Most young politicians are aggressive in presenting issues that are of importance to the public, especially in Parliament. “The youth are achieving a lot. For example, I recently conducted a research with fellow MP James Mbatia into challenges of the education system in our country such as lack of a national school curriculum and what could be the solution. “As an MP, I have managed to break the secrecy that surrounded the expenditure of funds allocated to the Parliament for my constituency. Beforehand the funds were used without anyone being accountable,” says Mr Machali.

However, Mr Said Nkumba (CCM Sikonge, Tabora) says the Judiciary in Tanzania is independent. “Even if the judges are appointed by the President, justice is still separated from the government. For example, take the many petitions that the opposition has won. He states that the new trend of youth going into politics is a sign of the maturity of Tanzania politics. “So long as they are able to deliver then the seniors should transfer power to them, but they should learn to accept defeat rather than causing mayhem,” advises Mr Nkumba.

Read more here.