Fowler Family Fellow Kevin Payne recaps winter break trip to Tanzania as part of a course on social entrepreneurship

Posted 2.2.2018

Group photo in Tanzania

During winter break, I was fortunate to travel to Tanzania for a course on social entrepreneurship in the global economy—a class that bridges business and engineering through the collaboration of Professor Michael Goldberg and Professor Dan Lacks. This trip was also my first visit to an African country, and I could not imagine a warmer welcome to this incredible continent than our hosts provided us.

Before the course started, part of the class met Saidi Amiri—a Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) fellow who visited Weatherhead last July—in his hometown near Arusha. We spent our time captivated by the incredible wildlife in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area during a safari and by our glimpse of daily life in a small village during a cultural bicycle tour.

We next flew to Dar es Salaam, the largest city and commercial center in Tanzania, to meet the rest of our classmates and our hosts for the remainder of the trip, Bernice and Benjamin Fernandes. Bernice and Benjamin are siblings, social entrepreneurs, and spectacular ambassadors of their home country—they both embody business leaders as agents of world benefit!

During our trip, we split into small groups—composed of engineering and business students—to meet with eight social entrepreneurs, whose business models ranged from gelato prepared with local spices to organic fertilizer for rural farms made from urban food waste. Having studied engineering in my undergrad, the collaboration between business and engineering students felt natural. Our conversations with the social entrepreneurs touched on many common entrepreneur dilemmas—creating value, converting customers, securing funding—and they each shared a passion to create businesses that positively impact their country.

My eight days in Tanzania bestowed knowledge, friendships, and life experiences that I would normally struggle to gather in a year. This single post scratches the surface of this course—for a complete account, please visit our course blog, which we will update throughout the semester with posts about our trip and consulting projects. We will also draft AIM2Flourish articles about several social entrepreneurs we interviewed in Tanzania and Zanzibar. Finally, check out this video about our trip, which includes footage of the solar panels and LED lights we installed in a remote village.

- Kevin Payne, MBA '18, Fowler Family Fellow


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