Sustaining Learning Opportunities for Tanzanian Youth in Agriculture

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IESC F2F Volunteer Expert Supports Youth Cooperative to Strategically and Sustainably Manage Youth-Support Programs

Sokoine University Graduate Entrepreneurs Cooperative (SUGECO), a youth cooperative located in Morogoro, provides critical services to youth throughout Tanzania. SUGECO trains out-of-school and out-of-job youth and provides Tanzanian youth from poor and disadvantaged backgrounds with in-country short field assignments as well as international internship opportunities. However, in 2019, SUGECO was faced with financial challenges leaving them unable to meet their basic financial obligations and, therefore, uncertain of how they could continue to provide these critical services to youth.

F2F Volunteer Susan Gurley working with SUGECO to analyze level of effort spent per program by staff and how it impacts the fee structures and pricing of programs.

To support SUGECO to address these challenges, IESC’s USAID-funded Farmer-to-Farmer (F2F) Access to Finance program mobilized Ms. Susan Gurley, a U.S. volunteer with expertise in organizational and strategic development, to conduct an analysis of SUGECO’s strategic development plan and provide recommendations on ways in which SUGECO can sustainably generate funds from its diverse revenue streams. She focused on working with the cooperative to strengthen its organizational capacity and articulate the value of their brand in order to increase and improve the cooperative’s brand recognition and ability to generate funds. Furthermore, Susan supported the SUGECO team to conduct an analysis of personnel value by walking them through the process of assessing and calculating staff time when making business decisions. This thorough analysis revealed that the total cost expended when implementing and managing programs was far higher than the fees that the cooperative was charging the members and clients to participate in these programs, and, ultimately, leading the cooperative to not make any real profit from the programs.

One such program that Susan reviewed for SUGECO was their U.S. internship program. This program, which sends Tanzanian youth to the U.S. to gain practical hands-on skills and experience in agriculture and agribusiness, was developed to encourage and promote agribusiness innovation among participants in order to take advantage of business opportunities available in the Tanzanian agricultural sectors when they return home. With Susan’s support, SUGECO was able to better allocate staff time, adjust fees and structures and generate USD 250 profit from each participant of U.S. internship program, ensuring continued success and impact of the program.

Tanzanian youth receiving their travel tickets from SUGECO leadership for their one-year internships in the U.S.

Susan’s support to and engagement with SUGECO did not end upon her return to the U.S. She has continued to follow-up with SUGECO regularly and helped them develop an easy tool to track staff time per program. She has also assisted SUGECO to finalize three contracts and associated fee negotiations with U.S. internship providers ultimately saving each Tanzanian youth intern USD 500.

Joseph Masimba, SUGECO Operations Manager, noted, “(t)he volunteer expert you brought us did a great job. She supported us to conduct costing of our overseas internship services. Susan proposed that the service fee should be USD 600 which we have started and the program is making a profit now. We hope to get more U.S. partners who will work with us to approach farmers unions and other farmers so that we can increase the number of interns we send to the U.S. If we can send a total of 300 youth a year, we will generate USD 700,000 which can help us pay 50% of our staff salaries. Going commercial with our services is more sustainable and stable for the cooperative. We appreciate F2F for bringing experts to work with us and support our effort.”  Ultimately, the critical support provided by Susan will allow SUGECO to continue managing initiatives, such as the youth internship program in the U.S., and for the youth engaged to improve the agricultural sector and their livelihoods upon return to Tanzania.

The American people, through the U.S. Agency for International Development, have provided economic and humanitarian assistance worldwide for more than 50 years.

The John Ogonowski and Doug Bereuter Farmer-to-Farmer Program (F2F) provides technical assistance from U.S. volunteers to farmers, farm groups, agribusinesses and other agriculture sector institutions in developing and transitional countries with the goal of promoting sustainable improvements in food security and agricultural processing, production and marketing.