Dorcas and Denis graduated from Form 6 at St Jude’s in May and began their Beyond St Jude’s Community Service Year internships in July.
Dorcas, a skilled communicator, opted for a placement in St Jude’s Supporter Relations team in the Business Office, while Denis has taken on the task of teaching sciences in a local government school.
These voluntary internship placements have given the daring duo the necessary skills and confidence to pitch a unique social enterprise scheme to potential investors at a recent conference held in Dar es Salaam — Tanzania’s industry hub.
Thanks to their free, quality education at St Jude’s, Dorcas and Denis were encouraged to pursue their interests in science and entrepreneurship, and had access to well-equipped science laboratories during their schooling.
“Denis and I were grateful for having access to good facilities at St Jude’s. We realised that government school students do not have the same resources. Some of the government school students Denis teaches have a negative attitude towards science because they think that if they do not have practical science experience, they cannot succeed later on,” Dorcas shared.
“We pitched the idea to investors to open a small lab and provide cheap, yet safe, facilities for government school students to learn how to do science experiments. Without innovators and scientists, Tanzania cannot move forward.”
Dorcas and Denis presented their idea at the Arusha Sparks Innovation and Technology Event in September. As finalists, they received partially-sponsored tickets to pitch their business plan at the larger Sahara Sparks and Afrilabs Annual Gathering in Dar es Salaam during October.
“We met with young adults from all over Africa and Europe. As two of the youngest delegates, we were nervous, but met with great success and learnt from everyone we spoke to,” Dorcas enthused.
“There is so much to consider when you write a proposal. We considered the role of marketing, the revenue mode and how our idea would be unique. Most importantly, we considered the wider community impact: how can we empower youth to change their own community?”
St Jude’s encourages students to ask that very question and to address challenges facing Tanzanians. Dorcas and Denis believe that students proficient in science and technology will go on to be leaders in their country.
“Science can fulfill many goals and intentions for Tanzania. Due to minimal resources in government schools, we are also lacking skills in producing scientific methods and goods here. We import instead of producing on our own. We have so much land to use. The President has talked about industrialisation, but without engineers and lab technicians, how do we move forward? People here have the brains, but not always the privilege or motivation because of the poverty they experience,” Dorcas and Denis said.
“Of course, when presenting to fellow scientists and entrepreneurs in Dar es Salaam, we were very nervous. I was alone at the conference on my first day, but even the public speaking and debating training I had from St Jude’s gave me confidence to share my idea. It was scary, but I overcame the fear. As a result, we had people from all over Africa taking interest in our idea. To others who wish to pursue a passion, I would say, ‘just go for it!’”
What are you waiting for?