Every day on her way to school, Winkista walks beside a small garden at the edge of St Jude’s Girls’ Secondary School Campus. The mere sight of the flourishing pawpaw, mango, and avocado fruits at the garden gives her a sense of joy, pride, and motivation to start her day.
“I love the elegance and beauty of plants and vegetation,” says Winkista, a student at St Jude’s Girls’ Secondary School. “So having a garden as the first thing that I see when walking to school is simply the best way to start the day,” she adds.
At St Jude’s, Winkista’s love and passion for gardening found its place at the Entrepreneurship Club, one of the 12 extracurricular clubs where students can join and develop a variety of skills and knowledge in different fields. At the club, she interacts with like-minded students with similar interests and learns the entrepreneurial side of agriculture.
“It is really interesting that I could one day turn my passion into a source of income,” says Winkista. “I have been hearing a lot about the huge potential in agriculture but being at the club has helped me realise this in a practical way. It is one of those things that are best learned when doing,” she adds.
In Tanzania, agriculture plays a crucial role in the economy. According to data from USAID, Tanzania’s agriculture sector contributes nearly one-third of the country’s GDP and employs nearly 75% of the population. As the main source of food, nutrition, income and employment for the majority, especially rural populations, agriculture holds a lot of potential to increase incomes and improve livelihoods.
“When the Entrepreneurship Club was started, we knew it had to involve agriculture because it is one of the largest sectors in Tanzania,” reflects Ms Osempia, a teacher at St Jude’s and one of the founders and mentors of the club. “Although students can still learn about entrepreneurship in many other ways, agriculture remains one of the easiest and most affordable entry points for would-be entrepreneurs because of the vast amount of opportunities available in the sector,” she adds.
Ms Osepmia coordinates with fellow mentors of the club to create a learning structure, and guidance, and oversee all projects under the club.
“We train our students to think like an entrepreneur from the start and treat all projects like a business,” says Ms Osempia. “So they learn about planning, budgeting, market research, analysing trends in the market, risk assessment, and so on. Most students love gardening but if they are going to be successful entrepreneurs, they need to learn these principles early on,” she adds.
The Entrepreneurship Club is one of the most popular and thriving clubs at the school, it currently has over 40 student members.
“It fills me with great pride and hope that the club gaining such popularity here at girls’ school,” says Ms Osempia. “A time will come when our girls won’t necessarily have to wait to get employed, they could just leverage their skills to make a life for themselves and others,” she adds.
Ms Osempia’s comments are supported by Agneta, another Entrepreneurship Club student member and one of the student leaders at the club. Agneta has big dreams of running a successful business and providing employment opportunities for others.
“I have been a member of the club for two years now,” says Agneta proudly. “The skills that I have gained at the club – both on and off the field will go a long way to helping me run and manage a successful business in the future,” she adds.
Agneta’s role as an elected leader of the club has further shaped her ambition of starting her own business.
“Taking on projects with my fellow student members is one of my favourite things at the club,” says Agneta. “We manage the daily operations of our projects at school and that usually means we have to work together and cooperate on things. Some tasks such as digging up the ground, cultivating, and tendering plants require a lot of work and dedication, but ultimately they help foster togetherness and make the harvest at the end worth all the effort!” she says.
In addition to running a fruit garden at the school, members of the Entrepreneurship Club also run a poultry project at a nearby Moivaro Boarding Campus. The club taps into the unique skills and creativity of students allowing them to not only find solutions but leveraging them to make a living for themselves.
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