Having graduated from least developed country to lower middle-income economy as announced by World Bank in 2020, Tanzanians are optimistic that sooner rather than later, the economy will leap into a complete middle-income status.
To this end, the country’s five-year National Development Plan unveiled by the government last year, among other things, targets to consolidate its new economic position by empowering state institutions to deliver sustainable economic growth.
But one critical area to safeguard such sustainable growth, is to empower youth who are an important group to power growth. The group needs to acquire knowledge and skills conversant with the needs of a rapidly growing economy centred around industrialization.
While the state is investing heavily in this regard, the private sector also has an important role to play hence Serengeti Breweries Limited’s decision to bankroll training of youth coming from struggling families with an agriculture background.
Under its flagship ‘Kilimo-Viwanda’ Scholarship Programme, SBL is fully financing the training of 70 underprivileged students at four selected tertiary colleges in various parts of the country. The program which started over two year ago, also provides youth with mentorship in agricultural production in addition to an opportunity to acquire practical knowledge of SBL's business operations.
One of the 70 beneficiaries of the SBL scholarship scheme is Winnie Mollel who is one of the 17 students attending training at Bagamoyo based Kaole Wazazi College of Agriculture. “It’s been a wonderful experience here at school and in the field, SBL’s scholarship has completely changed my fortunes in life,” said Mollel who comes from a struggling farming family in the district.
She said without the scholarship her life was likely to end in subsistence farming which would have led to getting married and becoming another young mother struggling to feed her children after sometime.
“But now with SBL support, I am becoming an extension officer that will not only advise farmers on modern farming methods but also become a commercial farmer producing commodities which companies like SBL need in large quantities,” she bragged.
SBL's Managing Director, Mark Ocitti seconded Mollel’s observation saying the brewer came up with the scheme to help develop capacity of youths whose skills are needed to take Tanzania’s economy to full middle income status.
“Apart from providing financial support, SBL also offers the students with opportunities to learn other life skills and gain practical experience through activities such as brewery visits, field attachments to the farms, mentorship, entrepreneurship training and other forms of exposure,” Ocitti said adding that in such a way, the Dar es Salaam based brewer hopes that the beneficiaries stand a better chance of becoming independent and more productive after completing their studies.
Other colleges which work with SBL under the ‘Kilimo Viwanda’ Scholarship Programme include, Saint Maria Goretti Agricultural Training Institute in Iringa, Igabiro Training Institute of Agriculture in Bukoba and Kilacha Agriculture and Livestock Training Centre in Moshi.
The SBL chief further noted that by working with the public colleges, SBL also helps them impart knowledge and skills to young people to employ themselves as the labour market is saturated to the brim.
“Our programme is also meant to complement government's efforts to improve the agricultural sector as the country heads towards industrialization,” he added while stressing that the ‘Kilimo-Viwanda’ Scholarship Programme which started in 2019, had also an objective of strengthening the agricultural value chain and transform it from subsistence to commercial status.
The brewer has already an existing value chain scheme involving over 400 local farmers spread across eight regions in the country who get support in terms of agricultural inputs such as free quality seeds, fertilizer, technical advice while being linked to financial institutions to access credit facilities.
SBL then provides a reliable market by purchasing cereals such as maize, sorghum and barley which it uses for beer production. In 2020 alone for instance, SBL sourced 17,000 metric tons of these grains locally, an equivalent of 70 percent of its annual total raw materials requirement. The company is looking to increase sourcing of raw materials from local farmers to 85 percent by 2025.