Entrepreneurship – why is it so important for universities in Tanzania?

Last Tuesday we facilitated a workshop in Iringa for Tumaini University’s academic staff on entrepreneurial teaching methods. Goal of the workshop was to raise awareness and generate ideas on new ways of teaching, mainstreaming entrepreneurship education in all degree programs, and come up with new ways for linking up and serving the surrounding society and industries.

Academic staff brainstorming ideas for mainstreaming entrepreneurship at Tumaini University in Iringa - click to see all photos from the workshop

Academic staff brainstorming ideas for mainstreaming entrepreneurship at Tumaini University in Iringa – click to see all photos from the workshop

Entrepreneurship is already one of the cornerstones of Tumaini’s strategy as a university, and the Provost is driving it even further. We started to work on entrepreneurship education with Tumaini last year, and this was already the third time I’ve visited Iringa regarding this theme. We also have plans regarding entrepreneurship with Nelson Mandela African Institute of Science and Technology, State University of Zanzibar, Zanzibar University and University of Dar es Salaam.

So why is entrepreneurship such a hot topic right now universities in Tanzania?

Of course, to some degree, entrepreneurship is seen as easy fix for the huge problem of unemployed graduates in Tanzania. Universities used to educate job seekers, professionals for the needs of the private sector, industry and the state. Now the thinking has shifted to educating or generating job creators instead. Making this shift happen in practise is the hard thing, and at least the universities we work with have realized that it needs a lot of work and changes in the way universities operate to achieve this. It’s a long and difficult process, but it also creates competetive advantage for the university.

Entrepreneurship is not only about having students who start their own businesses, it’s about students who set their own goals in life, and figure out means to achieve them. It’s about initiative and proactive attitude to solving problems that matter to people. It’s about university working closely with the surrounding society and private sector. It’s about understanding what you need to know to achieve something, and how to learn it. And this last part is what universities have a hard time adjusting to. If you want the students to be creative, innovative and entrepreneurial, you can’t just have them memorize what the curriculum requires, and you can’t just keep them in the classroom! Real innovation and creativity happens in interaction with real life. And what is further away from real life than a university?

So what did we discuss in the workshop? For example, what different degree programs  are already doing, how the academic staff understand entrepreneurship education in their teaching, what kind of theories and pedagogical approaches we could apply, and what kind of models there are at a degree program level for entrepreneurship education. I used to work as a coach for a team of entrepreneur students at Proakatemia in Tampere University of Applied Sciences, and back then we also worked with the Polytechnic of Namibia as they were starting their Bachelor’s Degree Program in Entrepreneurship called ProLearning. We talked about what makes learning special in those programs, and what ideas are interesting and relevant for Tumaini.

Entrepreneurship education and alternative learning methods are not really new. Both Proacademy and ProLearning are based on the model of Tiimiakatemia (Team Academy) at Jyväskylä University of Applied Sciences, and Tiimiakatemia just celebrated its 20th anniversary about a week ago – Congratutions! Here’s a video from the anniversary gala, in which Peter Senge (MIT Sloan School of Management), the father of learning organizations and systems thinking theory, shares his thoughts about Tiimiakatemia:

Back to Iringa. We finished the session by brainstorming on how Tumaini University could become more entrepreneurial. One of the ideas in the brainstorming board was from the theology lecturers: “We should work more closely with our customers”. Who are the customers, I asked. “The sinners, of course!” they answered. Now that’s entrepreneurial thinking!


3 thoughts on “Entrepreneurship – why is it so important for universities in Tanzania?

  1. I may first declear the interest that i am second year persuing Bachelor of Business Administration Entrepreneurship Development at Mzumbe University…. Tanzanian graduates are considering themselves to be very greate and think that the job oppornities are there just waiting for them to graduate futher mor they do used to misconcept the Entrepreneurship. for example when one hears that small business they imagine that its the one that requirs even 10000 to 100000 which in Entrepreneurship concept SME requires 5,000,000 to 200,000,000….my view Entreprenuership should be compulsory course rather than Development Studies in Tanzania ….. you can reach through 0768344870

  2. It is a good approach to make our students more entrepreneurial especially in this era of globalized market. However, the focus should not only be to students, but rather even to all academic staff and administrative staff regardless of their area of specialization. Today, we are talking of public entrepreneurship where employees of any organizations whether private or public sector organizations should work towards serving the society. It is all about devising a mechanism for serving the public innovatively and creatively by providing quality services at minimal costs. The question of entrepreneurship should focus the prospective retirees so that upon retirement they become more entrepreneurial and survive longer. So i think today we should focus more on entrepreneurship in all governmental and non – governmental agencies so that we reduce tax burden to taxpayers.

    Kelvin Luka Nzilano,
    Assistant Lecturer,
    Moshi University College of Cooperative and Business Studies,
    P. O. Box 474, Moshi.yahoo.com
    0756 939 144

  3. As the matter of fact, many people around usually blame graduates by being lazy and keep on waiting for so called “white color jobs” but if one take time to review our university degree programs how they do prepare these graduates in different professionals varies from Accountants, human resources, Economist, social developments, planners and Engineers they are all taught but in real sense do not provide the student with any other opportunity rather than waiting to be employed by a certain company around the region. If the government is real serious about reducing employment problem which it was once called “bomu litakalo lipuka” it has under go explosion already example more than 10,000 candidates were interviewed for only 70 vacancies available. Active and proper measures should be taken into account to handle the situation

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