This is a story of how SUGECO became what it is today, and it all started with a DANIDA project called Growing Innovative Entrepreneurs through Action Research in the Agribusiness Value Chains in Tanzania
what is gie project
Danida Pilot Research Cooperation Programme is a programme that aims to strengthen research capacity in the partner countries based on priorities identified by the countries themselves. The pilot research activities are also intended to support implementation of national priorities within the framework of the bilateral development assistance.
On October 7, 2012, the Danish government through Danida Fellowship Center (DFC) agreed to fund a three-year development research project in partnership with the Sokoine University of Agriculture (SUA) and was expected to end on 31st December, 2015 at a budget of DKK. 4,965,799.. The parties agreed to co-operate on the implementation of this project known as Growing Innovative Entrepreneurs through Action Research in the Agribusiness Value Chains in Tanzania. SUA, Aalborg, and Copenhagen Universities collaborated on the research project.
The main objective of this project is to conceptualize, unfold and implement the “student entrepreneurship value chain”, which means the transformation from being a student to being “incubated” by SUGECO to finally be a successful entrepreneur. This also involves enriching the SUA curriculum in entrepreneurship and business management with practical application in food processing. These objectives later become the core of SUGECO as to how it operates.
Development of SUGECO through DANIDA project
The project contributed to the enhancement of creation of growth-oriented entrepreneurs by nurturing graduates and potential young entrepreneurs through training, internship and incubation process-which is a five-step process developed within the project. Throughout the process of carrying out this project, SUGECO re-structured itself in order to cater to other members and young entrepreneurs. SUGECO, an organization that was developed to support students-entrepreneurship has grown and became a good example in technology transfer and community development support over time. We can see this in the spur of food processing value addition in fruits, vegetables, and other nutritious products. The extension project had managed to support business startups mainly in three lines, namely Vero Juice for fruit juice processing, SOLARTUNDA for nutritious baked goods and spices, along with Kinshaga Foods on pineapple processing. The lines are owned and run by youth whom we helped link to farmers (suppliers) and intermediary traders who supplies raw materials to the incubator.
Given the natural flexibility of action research from the beginning, it allowed this research to grow more than what was originally planned. More product lines were introduced to tackle the seasonality issues in Tanzania, therefore the research ventured off beyond fruits and vegetables to work on spices and sweet potato value chains as well. This was necessary given that product development require more that just the fruit and vegetable value chain. The focus of youth entrepreneurs led to communication and outreach to youth including SUA graduates, other university graduates, and vulnerable unemployed youth who are out of school from primary and secondary school. Because the incubators needed supply of produce from small-scale farmers, the project started working with producers and in addition, to start its own gardens. The project gardens became demonstration plots to farmers, students, and youth who are aspiring to start in the agribusiness sectors.
SUGECO that was established in 2011 has grown to full fledged organization with high sustainability potentials thanks to this project. It has attracted funds from FAO, ITC, Farm Africa, USAID, Mastercard foundation and has continued responding to calls and doing a good job in executing development projects. Through this, collaborations with NGOs, universities (nationally and internationally), and governmental organizations are well developing. The business model developed is being improved through action research, learning by doing and research based training.