From idea to business plan

News - 15 June 2016

A hands-on training on entrepreneurship at the University of Dar es Salaam

Three staff members from Delft University of Technology, teaching a classroom in Tanzania filled with 30 representatives from the different departments of the University of Dar es Salaam (UDSM) – it was the first step towards a new university wide Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at UDSM. Sophia Ndibalema, from the department of Journalism and Mass Communication: “This course week is an opportunity to get new insights in entrepreneurial skills and to give our own students practical training on entrepreneurship. And for them, that could be an opportunity to find a job - which is very hard for young people in Tanzania nowadays.”

“At the first day, the group was a bit shy, not knowing each other yet and not being used to all our practical work forms”, says Jennifer Kockx, program manager from TU Delft | Global Initiative (DGI). “But during the very practical training with a lot of energizers, the group became looser. They really engaged themselves in the 2,5 days of Valorisation Canvas, a practical tool developed in Delft on: how to come from an idea to a useful business plan.” Also a full day was spent on how to set-up and manage project-oriented entrepreneurship education. All the participants will get a role in the new Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship: as a contact, as a trainer and also to look for entrepreneurial opportunities within their own department. Sophia Ndibalema: “Through the teaching method I have been able to get a lot of information, knowledge and skills in a really short time. We learned that entrepreneurship is not just starting up a new business, but also a mind-set: try, try, try. Failing is not an obstacle but a place of learning and gaining more experience.”

Together with Otto Kroesen of  the Delft Centre for Entrepreneurship (DCE) and Ellen van Andel of the Valorisation Centre (VC) of TU Delft, TU Delft | Global Initiative organised the training week, combining the expertise of all three parties. Jennifer Kockx: “For us, it was a new cooperation as well. DCE has a lot of experience with education for entrepreneurship, and VC knows how to come from an innovation to business. As Global Initiative, we focus on the cooperation between Delft University of Technology and local universities and other partners in Sub-Saharan Africa to jointly find concrete solutions for global societal challenges.” This week was also supported by UNIDO (United Nation Industrial Development).

The training week ended with seven groups pitching a business idea, ranging from ‘pre-school storybooks to promote literacy from a native point of view’ to ‘an online service to compare fees and quality of different private schools in Tanzania’. The winners aimed at making a business of recycling broken lab glass with a new method, that makes it even stronger than before. “But how then will you keep your business, if eventually the glass doesn’t break anymore?”, the jury asked. “Then we will simply expand and collect broken glass elsewhere, there’s a lot of it in Tanzania.” And that answer shows the importance of working together – co-creating – with local partners when tackling global challenges. Jennifer Kockx: “Only local scientists and entrepreneurs know the local context, the culture, the problems. That’s why we need to work together and combine our expertise.”