“Everything that I am doing now has changed my life.”
– Gemma, Vuka Small Business Owner
It has been one year since Loom launched the Vuka Small Business Start-Up Course with a training in Arusha, Tanzania. Since then, twenty-eight leaders have completed the course and have launched their own small business in their community.
When we launched Vuka with this initial cohort, we wanted social innovators to know that the goal was not just financial success – it was learning. We knew that some businesses would take time to build, that there would not be instant success or profit right away, and we wanted each leader to feel comfortable learning both what worked for them, and what didn’t work. Together, we hoped that these social enterprises would not just be a means of income, but a way to engage their communities – providing jobs, starting conversations, and modeling a new way.
After three months of business planning and nine months of running a small business, we asked leaders to tell us how it is going, and what they have learned.
Irene – Pineapple Business
“This project has helped me to grow in understanding the community, their beliefs and livelihoods. I have been able to foster relationships with locals and create jobs for them. I have not seen financial success yet, but there is a considerable influence I have earned that will be useful to attaining business success.”
“Our pineapple business is still in the initial stage of growing pineapples. The good news is that we have just finished harvesting 500kg of maize. We have used 300kg to supply the school and 200kg for feeding the children at home.”
“In the meantime, we had to do more work than earlier anticipated. Before planting, we had to clear the whole land including the removal of trees because pineapples thrive well in a shade-free garden. However, we have gone ahead of the challenges and are now in a better position to tackle any future tasks.”
Ezekiel – Chicken Business
“Since November I learnt a lot and my endeavor continues getting momentum tremendously, which also accompanied with variation in the expectation and some few challenges. However, I also started experiencing some market challenges and getting some margin from the long run of about six months working tirelessly.”
“I have managed to employ about three men in my venture from my community and community has been inspired a lot about what I have been doing, and around the area some people start to imitate what am doing, this It has been a real good experience to see that am also impacting community with what am doing.”
Challenges I have faced: : a chicken flu spike killed 25 in one day; electricity has been unreliable
“I have encountered some success out of my business which includes yielding some profit after selling some eggs, chickens started to yield eggs since late November and the market for eggs was so awesome.
“[Overall,]I have acquired market experience and my network with the customers have matured gradually. My products are already known to the market and I have secured a position in the market.”
Carol – Sheep Business
“[I] am grateful for the privilege to own a business. It has been a great time of both learning, experiment to experience, knowing more about animals, their health and seasons. Job opportunitIes [have been]created for the young fathers who one take care of the sheep, and now another the pigs. I see some youths challenged that if a woman can do this they too would like to try.”
Challenges I have faced: timing, building up customer base, market variables for selling livestock at a good price.
Unexpected events or surprises:
One of my sheep got a disease that is incurable according to the veterinarian.
One of the sheep gave birth to twins!!!!!! A miracle: one died two replaced it!
Geoff and Beatrice – Peanut Butter Business
Community job creation: “We have been having 2 people that have always been part of this. Helping in preparations of the product. Promoting the one that sells peanuts, the container packs as well the stickers printing guy. Most people we talk to are really excited that this happens.”
“The first 3-4 months of the business, we had very positive results. January and February have not worked out well and this is because most people are busy with directing everything to their kids going to school. For our business, it wasn’t good.”
“We didn’t know that with the peanut butter business there is a season too and so we now know we will have to prepare for this.”
“[Overall], our business worked because we decided to get ourselves into it, love it and talk about it all the time. Committing ourselves to it, the most one thing we pray for all the time.”