Friday, February 26, 2010

Hasheem Thabeet down for a 'stint' in D-League

Well, I never anticipated kick-starting my contribution to this blog in a 'slightly' negative tone. Anyways, woke up this morning only to see Bongo blogs flooded with the news that Hasheem is headed to the D-League.

I personally wouldn't try to read too much into the reported move as I am nowhere near to the position to know The Grizzlies' purpose. I will just take this opportunity to wish the boy all the best!

On the other side, though, did we start celebrating prematurely that we have a Tanzanian in the NBA?

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

BBC: The Virtual Revolution

In this BBC audio documentary, Dr. Aleks Krotoski examines the history and development of the World Wide Web concept.

According to the documentary page, "joined by some of the web's biggest names - including the founders of Facebook, Twitter, Amazon, Apple and Microsoft, and the web's inventor - she explores how far the web has lived up to its early promise."

Monday, February 22, 2010

'The danger of a single story' - Chimamanda Adichie

Chimamanda Adichie speaks very well on the dangers of a single story. However, today it’s unfortunate that Tanzania is about to re-introduce a ‘single textbook-per-subject policy’. The minister of education Prof Jumanne Maghembe has blamed the current system which requires many books per subject as a reason for poor performance in schools. Having listened to Chimamanda’s speech, Tanzania’s single textbook policy seems to be a disaster in the making. The new system “may” manage to decrease the “confusion” caused by the use of many books, but there is a great danger it may limit the potentials that the students may have. Mr. Ogola who is a publisher goes further to say, ‘the bigger impact will be on the quality of education as students will face a reduction in intellectual diversity’. This is very true and also it will ‘kill creativity’ as Mr. Oyuga goes on to claim.

The single textbook system will limit diversity in education something that is very important in schools, especially today where employment is scarce; therefore, many people have to find alternative ways to make ends meet. Although I am disappointed but am also curious to see how this new policy will build students to become independent thinkers and creative in terms of being entrepreneurs. The current system of many text books encourages a nation of thinkers and that’s what a successful entrepreneur neeeds today; a broad knowledge about many things. I fear the new system will end up graduating students who are narrow minded with dependent thoughts instead of graduates who are thinkers. Tanzania needs to move from being a nation of dependency to being self reliant, but until something is done with the education system, the nation will continue to be satisfied with foreign Aid instead of finding alternative ways. Although entrepreneurship among youths is becoming very popular by the day today, but more neds to be done, and with the fast changing world, its easy to be left behind and that’s why the education system needs to be more challenging and I don’t see the single textbook doing that.

Read more:
Chimamanda's TED talk on YouTube
Business Daily article

Thursday, February 18, 2010

The 2010 Outlook: The Year of Africa?

It is quite amazing how time flies, we are already in mid-February of 2010 and so much has already happened throughout the world. The devastation in Haiti has been the most covered story in the news, President Barack Obama’s attempt to reassert his authority within Washington and the country has been the topic of choice in the United States, on a broader geostrategic note China has flexed its muscles diplomatically and economically against a weakened US, and Iran is slowly but surely reaching the breakpoint of becoming a nuclear power. A lot is going on in the greater realm of international politics, but many pundits have simply overlooked Africa…no real surprise there. 2010 is the year of the tiger for the Chinese, I believe 2010 is the year of Africa. There is no doubt that this year, Africa will be under a large microscope and whatever happens this year will have direct political and economic consequences for the new decade. If we start on the right path this year, we may have a promising decade.

For better or for worse, everything will be measured on how well South Africa hosts the World Cup set to begin in June. Africa will have a “good” year if the World Cup is a success and perhaps if an African team makes it to the quarter or semi finals. Pretty superficial measurements if you ask me but that’s how it’s going to be. If anything goes wrong in South Africa, we will hear loud and clear that Africa is not ready to host such extravagant events and if South Africa cant do it, no one in Africa can. We will see, I do hope everything goes well and all the banter leading up to the event is just trash talk, just like we saw during the lead up to the Chinese Olympics.

On a more personal level, 2010 is Tanzania’s election year. Now, unfortunately, elections and African countries are not viewed in a great light. A history of violence, ethnic strife, and constant rigging has plagued elections in Africa throughout even for the more peaceful country of Tanzania. Despite this, I believe Tanzania is at a crossroads right now especially politically. There have been attempts for political reconciliation between the mainland and Zanzibar, perhaps one of the thorniest issues of our parents generation and more than unlikely our generation. President Jakaya Kikwete has made promises of making a more solidified union and he is widely expected to win the elections in December despite some diminishing support and divisions within his own political party. The question is what will happen in Zanzibar and that is what my posts will try to focus.

We live in an increasingly changing world that requires new ideas and visions to keep up with the changing dynamics of the international system. The only way we can keep up is if governments and politicians invest in the youth, but it is not a one-way street. The youth need to invest highly in politics because at the end of the day, it wont be our parents’ Tanzania but our Tanzania. We have been lucky so far to have a relatively stable country and growing economy, now is not the time to disengage. A dormant political youth is a recipe for economic, political and social stagnation.

It is extremely difficult for me to shy away from politics but I also want to focus on the youth and their role in the election season as well as the political landscape of Tanzania. The youth of Tanzania has so much promise and I believe the political elites have recognized that, they just have to act on it. I will do my best to capture the feeling of the youth but I will have to show discrepancy from the beginning as I am writing this post from New York instead of Dar es Salaam, which puts me in a limited position. Despite that I do hope to start a dialogue, which I believe is the main mantra for Vijana FM. VIjana FM has attempted to revamp the role of the youth in Tanzania and this is only the beginning.

The UN has coined 2010 as the International Year of Youth, I have NO CLUE how they come up with these yearly labels. Who decides all this? Anyway, if this is the international year of youth then I hope it resonates back home.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Whats all the Buzz about?

Many of you avid Gmail users such as myself may have recently noticed a new 'Buzz' link on Gmail. Well in all honestly I was a little late at finding out because I'm always logged into Gmail and not until I was forced to log out (Gmail addict!) for a Firefox restart did I see the new link .

Buzz is Google's new entrant into the social media space and unlike Orkut/Google Friend Connect, Buzz gained instant traction (albeit a few privacy hiccups) among its already existing and faithful Gmail community.

I'm not going to go through a feature list or comparison with Facebook/Twitter here, you can read more about that on mashable. I want to comment on is what this means for us mortals in the real world. Buzz will mean more time on Gmail... obviously Google wants that, but its also means that we now also have to track friends and their status' on Buzz. Aren't we doing enough of that on Facebook and Twitter already? Because of the simplicity and ease of use of Buzz a lot of users will get convinced to start Buzzing on Buzz, which in turn will mean less time you spend on Facebook, Twitter etc or working (whichever you do more of). We do after all only have 16-18 awake hours in a day and everyone is fighting for your time on their service.

Businesses have an even harder challenge since they now cannot ignore Buzz and so they have add it to their social media marketing strategy (if they have one). The vast majority of businesses are no where close to having a social media marketing strategy and a new entrant into this space makes it an even more confusing, expensive and daunting task. One set of businesses however will really benefit, the companies offering social media marketing services for others. They just got more money handed to them.

What are your thoughts on Buzz? How has it impacted your time on social media sites? Please comment.

Cross listed here.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Kenyan youth work with UBC business school

The Sauder School of Business at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada is working with East African youth on business planning and microfinance.

The initiative, currently under the class "Social Entrepreneurship 101: Africa", may be useful to microfinance institutions as well as youth - especially in Kenya - looking to initiate and/or expand their small enterprise.

Through workshops, mentoring sessions, and guest speakers, participants would be able to exchange and leverage key business planning skills with opinions from those who have examined multiple business cases.

According to the Sauder Africa Initiative website, the long term goals of the project include:
  • Training partnerships between African universities and the Sauder School of Business at UBC.
  • Gaining support from local microfinance institutions to support business proposals submitted by African youth.
  • Continuing to collaborate with the African youth who participate in the program to ensure sustainability.
(Click here for source)

Read more:
Sauder Africa Initiative homepage
"Social Entrepreneurship" definitions
2010 Team

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Social Enterprise Chat on Twitter

Ashoka is an organization that supports social entrepreneurs globally with funding and technical assistance.

They will be hosting a discussion on Twitter on the first Wednesday of every month concerning a different set of questions in the field of social entrepreneurship. The discussions will take place from 4-6pm EST, under the hashtag "#SocEntChat".

Vijana FM was online with Ashoka and a host of entrepreneurs and supports of the social entrepreneurship process. The transcript from last week has just been published here, but in summary, here were the four questions that were debated:

1. Why is innovation important in the fields of peace-building and conflict resolution?

2. What is the role of social entrepreneurship in peace-building?

3. What is (or should be) the role of business in peace-building?

4. What are the most innovative ideas and solutions you've seen to building peace, tolerance and empathy around the world?

Some great ideas were thrown around, and Vijana FM made some new friends in the process! Some quotes from the discussion as a whole:

The peacebuilding field, esp in USA, is a little stuck b/c of lack of ideas for how to effectively support local peacebuilders #SocEntChat

Innovation energizes people, often leads to collaboration, and keeps everything alive. #SocEntChat

#SocEntChat Agreed. Peace is not something left to governments, or even nonprofits. Every person, and every institution can have a role.

we should identify those businesses who can lead this mindset shift, who have invested interest in keeping peace. who are they? #SocEntChat

#SocEntChat Good point re: Chicken and egg. What kinds of businesses r most likely to take on the risks?

Interesting question about art and peace - I think there's a strong connection there and know some NGO's doing good things #SocEntChat

@peaceplayers i love that what we essentially agreed on is that peace is for risk takers. #SocEntChat

#SocEntChat Peace is a product of engaging in political, economic and social frameworks. Innovation happens and is necessary for all three.

Check out the rest of the Tweets on the full transcript.

Twitter serves as an additional kind of platform to collaboratively build ideas, though it is tapping into a different kind of audience. On Twitter, with the use of "@" or "#", people as well as topics of discussion can be tagged and searched by the world.

If you're on Twitter, join Vijana FM at the next discussion on March 3rd, 2010!

Read more:
Ashoka #SocEntChat description
#SocEntChat current search results on Twitter
#SocEntChat transcript from February 3rd, 2010
Ashoka homepage
Vijana FM on Twitter

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Funding Platform, ""

Social entrepreneurs interested in the arts and media, do you need help funding your project? Get on now and request an invite.

I found out about the funding platform through a friend. The way it works is simple. Someone who needs funding for a project requests an invite (NOTE: Invites are only available to folks with a U.S. address and bank account). Upon receiving an invite, you post about your project and set a deadline for funds. People from anywhere around the world can pledge to your project. If you receive enough pledges by the deadline to fund your project, the folks who pledged will get a charge on their credit card for the amount they pledged. If your project does not meet the deadline, the pledges will NOT get charged. That simple.

For more information be sure to check out their website.

Want to be an Entrepreneur? Five important people you MUST know!

This is a follow-up post to Bahati Mabala's post Five Important People to Know posted 7 February 2010. Bahati’s post has a link to a Swahili article, which we’ve translated for our English speakers.

Want to be an Entrepreneur? Five important people you MUST know!
Original Swahili article from
Written by Jeff Msangi (5 Feb 2010)
Translated by Khairoon Abbas (9 Feb 2010)

Entrepreneurship is the new thing nowadays. Everyone’s talking about it. Maybe that’s because many of us realize that times have changed and that entrepreneurship is the right way to go, especially if you want real success in your life. In our current world of science of technology, there is a greater reliance on young people in furthering entrepreneurship.

Although young people may have the best intentions, they need to find new ways of dealing with some challenges along the way, such as how to deal with the kind of education taught in schools. Unfortunately, education that young people learn in school doesn’t teach them how to be self-employed. It doesn’t teach them how to be an entrepreneur once they graduate.

We are still in the colonial mind-frame. When you graduate, you are expected to find a job. Go around Dar-es-salaam and you will meet many educated young people, graduates from various universities and colleges, carrying their certificates and diplomas in their plastic bags, going from place to place, looking for employment. None of them think how to use the education they received in university to employ themselves. Why, you may ask? Well, that’s just the way it is.

The education they receive in school just doesn’t prepare them. You’ll meet an electric engineer who has never even changed a bulb! (I might have spiced it up a little, but there’s some truth to it!) You’ll meet someone who studied agriculture and the environment, but they may not know what a farm is! This is exactly what is wrong with our education. And the government needs to address this.

There are some young people who genuinely want to be entrepreneurs. They want to be self-employed. Today, we’ll look at how an arising entrepreneur can start his or her campaign. Have you heard that business nowadays is all about networking and knowing people? Well, so is entrepreneurship. It is very important to know who is who or where to go incase things don’t quite work out. I’m not talking about where to go to get or receive a little cut, not at all. But what I’m talking about is networking. Social networking sites like facebook, twitter, myspace and so forth, are good places to network. So, use it wisely.

It is important to build a good network if you want to be a wise entrepreneur, especially if you want to be successful. Remember, we aren’t just talking about exchanging business cards here, but rather, to know someone with the intention of helping each other. Remember, the word is to help “each other” and it’s not just about you receiving help.

Before listing the different ways of building one’s network, let me first tell you that the first secret of being an entrepreneur is preparation. Firstly, prepare yourself financially, educationally (what you learn in school and in the streets), different ways of doing business, and so forth. Secondly, be sure that you are deeply committed to what exactly it is that you want to do. Remember, don’t just be an entrepreneur because you saw someone do it.

Here are five people you need to know to build your network as an entrepreneur:

(1) Your Competitors: Business is competitive but it’s not a reason for hostility. If you want to be a successful entrepreneur, you need to really know your business competitors. Read their brochures, visit their websites, and know who their customers are and why they are their customers. Then, introduce yourself to your competitiors. I know you are asking yourself, introduce myself? Yes, introduce yourself. As I said earlier, they may be your competitors, but they aren’t your enemies. Your competitor can actually help you. He or she may be overwhelmed with their work that they may give you some of their work. That’s why you need to introduce yourself to them and build a good business relationship with them. But also, both of you are in the same kind of business and you are in the same sector. You don’t know what tomorrow holds. Also, if there is an organization or union of businesses of people in your field, be sure to be part of it.

(2) Members of the Media: Nowadays, there are many ways of communicating, from newspapers and TVs to radios and blogs. As entrepreneurs, it is crucial to know people who drive the media, especially those who are familiar with your field of work. It’s easy to get media coverage if journalists and media practitioners know what exactly it is that you as the entrepreneur are doing. Typically, when journalists start to investigate a topic or story, they first look at the ‘sources’ they have. Remember that getting frequent coverage about your work, leads people to remember you, to respect you and therefore, it will be easier for them to do business with you.

(3) Members of Non-governmental organizations: A wise entrepreneur is one who intends to help his or her community in one way or another. There are many business benefits of entrepreneurs who go back and help their communities. For instance, you may be eligible for some tax exemptions for doing so. But not only that, remember that people in a community that is well, not just health-wise and education-wise, are essentially your future consumers. That is why it is important to know people who lead non-governmental organizations (NGOs). Sponsor their various events. By doing so, you will be helping your community while also advertising your business. But remember to be wise. There are many NGOs nowadays so be sure to work with genuine ones, whose work is known and visible in your community.

(4) One or two lawyers: As an entrepreneur, you may need legal advise at any time. That’s why it is important to know one or two lawyers. We usually understand better when we talk to people who know because we are more comfortable with them. We can never know when we may need a lawyer. That’s why it is good to know a few lawyers just incase you may need their assistance somewhere down the line. Remember, I’m not talking about free assistance. But at least, by knowing some lawyers, you are bound to get some kind of discount and the comfort and relief of speaking to someone you know. Just imagine the freedom of meeting your lawyer friend for lunch, and conveniently asking him or her a legal question and getting the answer…for free!

(5) Some Political Key players: There is no business that is completely independent from the politics of a country. From getting business licenses and division of businesses, politics are always involved. That’s why it is important to know key players in the game, and in many cases, they are typically politicians. If you know some politicians in your field of work, it will be easier for you to spread your message, to share your complaints and also share your opinion about many things. It’s important to know the councilor, Member of Parliament, and minister in your community or wherever your business is located. Don’t lie to yourself and say “oh, I don’t want to involve myself with politicians.” As an entrepreneur, that is wrong and unwise.

In short, these are the important steps you should take should you be interested in being an entrepreneur. But as stated earlier, work hard and be prepared. That’s the secret for a successful foundation in your life. Knowing all kinds of important people is not enough. Your work should be your number one.

Jeff Msangi is the Chief Editor of You can reach him via email at makala (at) bongocelebrity (dot) com.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Five important people to know

In many fields these days professional or not, networking is very important. Today success does not only depend on your education or in other words, it’s not only what you know but its equally important of who you know.

The following article that is written by Jeff Msangi of discusses the five key people a new entrepreneur may need to establish relationship with. The article is written in kiswahili, and it’s an important read to every young entrepreneur; especially Bongo Flava artists who may only be banking on their fame rather than networking.

Read the article here.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Social Entrepreneurship Case Study: Kallari Cooperative of Ecuador

Indigenous communities around the world face seemingly insurmountable odds against national governments and corporations that seek to explore, and often exploit, the peoples and their land. The Quichua of the Ecuadorian Amazon too face such problems; oil exploration in their territory often means that they are removed from their lands and become dependent on the government for basic needs which they were once able to meet. Although many indigenous groups in the Ecuadorian Amazon have appealed to the government to forbid or limit oil exploration in their territory, the government does not have an incentive to stop oil exploration irrespective of the permanent damage it has on the fragile ecosystem. There are also many instances when the Quichua are persuaded to give up their territory through manipulative means.

When I studied abroad in Ecuador, I came to know of the Kallari Cooperative's cafe in the capital city of Quito. The cooperative is made up of hundreds of Amazonian Quichua families who create arts and crafts and manufacture their own chocolate, giving the families a sustainable way of generating income without having to exploit their land through logging and oil exploration. As a self-sustaining community, the cooperative has been able to preserve their way of life without growing dependent on the government while sharing their culture and stories of resilience with the world.

Kallari chocolates are manufactured entirely by the collective and are scrumptious; social entrepreneurship never tasted this good.

Lessons to be drawn
The Kallari cooperative works because it engages the community it is working for/with; every member of the community is a stakeholder with an important role to play, from the administrative aspects, to manufacturing chocolate or creating crafts. The community themselves see the value in their work. When a community feels it has the talents and manpower to succeed, the community feels it is in control of its destiny and mobilization becomes easier. As a social entrepreneur it is important to work with a community by first asking the community what its needs are, then inviting the community to be a part of the solution.

Read More:
* Impacts of Oil Drilling on Ecuadorian Indigenous groups
* Survival International (Tribal Peoples' rights organization)

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Technology incubators, a slingshot to success!

I visited a Silicon Valley technology incubator(Plug&PlayTechCenter) a few months back and I remember returning from the visit simply awed by the level of energy and entrepreneurial buzz around me. Start ups were given a mere two minutes to pitch their ideas to venture capitalists and angel investors lined up in front of them ready to invest millions of dollars into the next Google or PayPal. I recently read about a new technology incubator (iHub) and technology park(Malili) in Nairobi which got me thinking about the potentially immense value of incubators to developing nations.

For those not familiar with the concept of an incubator. An incubator is a usually an office complex or building that hosts early stage start up companies and provides them with invaluable access to finance (venture capital, debt etc) as well as sales, marketing, HR and legal support. The key idea is that start ups get access to a large network of advisors that they would not normally have. Going through the selection process for an incubator also allows starts ups to fully vet their idea and get a preliminary 'stamp of approval' that their idea is viable. Technology companies are specially suited to incubators because of the remote and collaborative nature of the business. Technology incubators in Silicon Valley have been particularly successful at harnessing their power.

These projects in Nairobi show a great foresight and initiative on the part of the goverment and local technology community since the vast majority of the impact from an incubator is intangible and extremely long term. InfoDev an NGO affiliated with the world bank has done a number of studies (available for free) on technology incubators as a means to promote sustained growth. One of the key findings is that incubators in developing nations must be formed on a sustainable financial as well management model to ensure that the long term value is derived from the investment. It also stresses the importance of corporate partnerships/sponsorships to bring in local stakeholders who would benefit from the incubation. The report also analyzes multiple case studies of incubators in developing nations in South America and the Middle East.

Technology incubators should be on the roadmap for all countries in Africa as an integral part of their plans to ecourage entrepreneurship and boost job creation. With the recent fiber optic connectivity to Eastern Africa a major infrastructure hurdle has been resolved leaving just the initiative to be taken.