“Karibuni!” (“Welcome” in English) are words that flow easily from the mouths of the locals in Iringa, Tanzania.
Since 2012 RLabs has been doing work in Tanzania with various Living Labs and in 2013 it officially launched RLabs in Tanzania. This is run by a team of 20+ individuals varying from community leaders, university students to past RLabs Grow graduates.
The team is led and championed by Yusuf SSessenga and Arnold Luhwago who are known by many as the dynamic duo. These leaders have so much passion, compassion and energy along with continuous innovation, that it makes many of us look like amateurs. We usually refer to ourselves as innovators, but during this trip we got to experience true innovation at its’ best. For the past week we were privileged to visit the town of Iringa and witnessed first hand the impact and essence of RLabs at its best. RLabs Iringa hosted the very first RLabs Day, which brought together past graduates, mentors, partners, local government, institutional heads and the local community (who call themselves “Friends of RLabs”).
The RLabs Day consisted of a graduation ceremony of 20+ Grow Leadership Academy students. These students successfully completed 6 months of intense Leadership, Digital and Entrepreneurship training. During the Entrepreneurship training they had to start a social enterprise that is not only profitable, but also has a social impact. During the ceremony the mentors had an opportunity to share some of the lessons learnt during the programme. The highlight of the day was the Showcase of 14 successful enterprises, started and led by graduates from the Grow Leadership Academy classes of 2013 – 2018.
Meet Paul. He is the owner of three businesses under the name, EnviBright. He runs a recycling company (managed by his brother, Lucas), a restaurant and a delivery service. Paul, graduated from the GROW Leadership Academy in 2015.
In early 2013, Felista, pictured above, joined RLabs Iringa in Tanzania. During her time spent at the Grow Leadership Academy her facilitators challenged her class to solve a social issue, Felista thought it to be the perfect time to address malnourishment. After consulting with experts in the field, a nutritious product was developed and received an overwhelming positive response by both local and international communities. Testimony: After two months of using the nutritional product, Felista’s friend felt different, much stronger and healthier. So she decided to go to hospital for the usual check-up. When her CD4 count was examined, the doctor was surprised! He told her the CD4 count was far higher than the threshold, so there was no need to continue with ARVs. This was the first time to get such news in three years. The doctor asked what had changed in her diet, and the suspect? Felista’s product!!
Kelvin, front left of image, is the founder of the Mkwawa Community Art Space. This space enables young people to grow in their passion and skills in the arts. The team pictured above entered a competition and won. They used their prize money to get this space to improve their community.
Omari Mohammed, is a GROW Leadership Academy graduate from 2014. He runs his own studio in Iringa, Tanzania. He records local artists and also helps artists who are starting out to get their music recorded. “I use egg trays to attract people.” These egg trays are used to soundproof the studio. Before saying goodbye to the team in Iringa we managed to take time out and strategise together on what the rest of 2018 holds for the broader Tanzania. We were inspired by the innovative methodologies used and the conceptualisation of ground breaking ideas.
As RLabs moved from “A Social Revolution” to “Making Hope Contagious” we see that the team has revolutionised its local community is now making hope contagious throughout Tanzania.
By Adrienne Fredericks