MGT 630 / INB 670T Graduate Entrepreneurship/
Seminar in Strategic Management Issues
International Field Study to Tanzania - Dar es Salaam and Zanzibar
March 2008

Press | Student Blogs


The Management and International Business Field Study was the first Lubin Field Study to go to Africa! Traveling from March 13th - 23rd, 2008, led by Professor Bruce Bachenheimer, this course examined the dynamics of commercial and social entrepreneurship in Tanzania, one of Africa's emerging economies. The impact that entrepreneurship has on this nation, as well as possible ways to promote social and economic development, were examined. Students visited the National Micro-Finance Bank, Techno-Serve, and various other companies and institutions. Particular attention was given to the structure of financial systems and the impact of global business on local development, including how foreign investors and multinational firms are embracing entrepreneurs to produce successful ventures and partnerships. Students also had the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to participate in a safari adventure.

Twelve Lubin students were each awarded $1,500 Figueroa Family Scholarships, for a total of $18,000 in funds awarded.

[Students in Tanzania]
Lubin students with Ambassador Mwakawago and David Robinson (center)

“It [the course] opened our eyes to a new way of conducting business that will be valuable for us in the future. Career development is done by experience and knowledge, this trip facilitated me with both. After taking this course, I strongly believe every MBA student needs to do a field study course.”

- Maria Orlova, MBA '08



[Reginald Mengi]


Aaron | Katie | Melissa | Sarah

Lubin students tour the majestic cliffs surrounding the city of Dar Es Salaam

From Aaron's blog:

Chairman Reginald Mengi (center) and Ambassador Daudi Mwakawago (at right) with the group

Students touring the forest in Zanzibar and learning the ecohistory of the region

Alex Mkindi, Deputy Country Director of TechnoServe, gave a presentation to the students

Dar es Salaam

(left to right) David Robinson, Prof. Bruce Bachenheimer, and Ambassador Mwakawago

“We managed to get time with Tanzania's most famous entrepreneur Reginald Mengi. He was truly an inspiration to us all and even though the room was 100 degrees, time flew by listening to his words of wisdom. Starting small but thinking big is his philosophy along with always having a set destination and plan.”
- Sarah

Following our questions, the floor was turned over to the former ambassador Daudi Mwakawago. Wow is all I can say about this man. After serving nearly 20 years with the Parliament, he became the minister of trade, then the ambassador in Rome, then the U.S. After this he negotiated peace in Sierra Leone. He spoke about Tanzania and how it differed from other African countries.

  • He specifically cites Tanzania as the only African nation with an indigenous language, Swahili.
  • Tanzania has over 120 tribes, there is no large scale fights or threats of takeover.
  • Class systems were abolished with the first president. This de-segregation provided greater opportunities for all.
  • Tanzania is a peace keeping leader. They played significant roles in South Africa's fights and serve as safe place for refugees.

After breakfast yesterday we all met in a conference room at the hotel to brainstorm ideas and see where everyone was at with their projects. We have to either write a research paper, a case study, or create a business plan. One person is going to research the hotel industry and customer service. This was prompted by our 2 hour dinner experience. Turns out that experience prompted many questions and sparked numerous conversations since. Others are interested in education and one person is looking at issues with the crowded harbor.

20,000 students, 2,500 are graduate level. 1,625 acres of beautiful trees, friendly people, and the occasional monkey or cat. You'd think you were looking at safari pictures, but it's their campus. Very nice.

Tanzania's education system follows a 7-4-2-3 structure. Seven years of primary school, four years of secondary school, two years of high school, and a minimum of three years at university. Some programs may take as long as five years though. Education is free up to university. The government will pay for your university schooling in exchange for one year of military service. Tanzania has five public universities and ten private. The University of Dar es Salaam is the largest and oldest one. It was originally part of London University and was founded in 1929. In the early 60's it was the University of Africa and was renamed in the 1970's. At its founding, its main concentrations were law and the arts. The entrepreneurship center was founded in 1999, this is where we spent most of our time.

The first talk we heard was titled "Opportunity and Challenges for Private Sector (PS) Development in Tanzania". This stressed the need for developmental partnerships, civic societies, and business and trade associations. Despite the numerous challenges, Tanzania ranked among the top 10 reformers across the world. 250 of 400 public enterprises are now private.

After lunch a delegate from the CEO Roundtable spoke. This is a group of 40 CEOs in various industries who work with the government to "develop the economy and help shape the business environment." He was joined by a panel of entrepreneurs, business owners, and lecturers at the university. More discussion focused on the shift out of socialism. Most were intrigued to learn that "socialist" was used in a derogatory manner in the US not too long ago. The new mentality breeds two types. One group wants to teach, inspire, and spread wealth of all kinds. The second group are poor who want to be rich overnight. They also want to lead. Many here believe that strengthening the voice of the people and making money can coexist.

Our discussion led back to customer service after a comment I made regarding the changing mindset of workers after the fall of socialism. Our professor noted that entrepreneurship is all about filling unmet customer needs and therefore should start with customer service.

There seem to be questions about opportunities for corruption within the current framework. Many small business owners are skeptical about the CEO Roundtable and its ability to review bills before they are passed.

From Katie's blog:

Philanthropist, Entrepreneur, and a man who has really made SOMETHING from nothing. Born in a mud hut in Northern Tanzania, Reginald Mengi would struggle for one meal a day, shoes were hard to come by, he walked long distances to school in BARE feet. Poverty was a CHALLENGE to him, not a problem. Mengi says, "You must believe in yourself, that you have power to make things move." Just like the childhood story of The Little Engine that could, I think I can, I think I can, I think I CAN. I MUST and I WILL. Mengi is an exceptionally inspiring/motivational individual with multi-faceted perspectives.

Mengi's business perspectives

Having no capital is NOT a problem, but a CHALLENGE. Mengi told us about his story, how he built himself up & is continually trying to build Tanzania. Some entrepreneurial advice from Mengi...

  1. You need to WORK HARD. Even while you're still employed by another company.
  2. When you go to work for yourself... Think BIG, but Start Small.
  3. You need a destination in mind for yourself. People don't usually know where they are going in their lives. Don't go through life lost.
  4. Make a Plan for Your Journey
  5. The moment you accept anything less than #1, You Fail. Put the highest price on yourself & your position.
  6. One for the women... Walk with Intent & Confidence.
  7. Believe in yourself AND your delegations, delegate with trust. You also must build a sense of BELONGING in the people you've recruited.

Lastly...Now that you've made your money, you need to remember to GIVE back. Give back to the People and give back to the Environment. Social Responsibility is a growing necessity in our world today.

Later on we met with Director Massawe and his team at The Ministry Industry, Trade & Mktg. The presentation focused on the initiatives they have in place to promote SME's, the role of the Gov't in supporting these enterprises, and the Small Industries Development organization (SIDO). Right now SIDO is committed to the following challenges: Poverty Reduction & Growth, Developing SME's, and Dealing with the Competition.

This morning we had the opportunity to meet with Alex Mkindi, Director of TechnoServe in Tanzania. He traveled 11 hours on a bus from Southern Tanzania just to meet with us!

We really have been received extremely well here in Dar Es Salaam - everyone seems genuinely interested in sharing with our groups of students & making a strong connection to Pace through this inaugural program. Which reminds me, I forgot to tell you that we were in the NEWS!! A couple nights ago, we were featured on the 6, 8, and 10 o'clock news here - showcasing our meeting with Ambassador Mengi. AND yesterday there was an article in The Guardian about us!

Back to TechnoServe... With a mantra like, "A hand up, is always better than a hand out," you know that this organization really wants to build up its people. And they do this by working with local farmers to help improve their means of production & distribution.

The session was great - Mr. Mkindi walked us through 3 different sectors of value chains in agriculture which they have been able to improve: Bananas, Coffee, and Cashew nuts.

In the case of bananas, TechnoServe was able to condense the value chain by removing some unnecessary "middle men" - which also helped to improve efficiency & gain more value if returns for these farmers.

From Melissa's blog:

Today we drove by a couple of areas where there were tons of streetside formal and informal businesses. I saw women going to work in business suits, young boys and girls in their uniforms buying corn from the street vendors, women balancing buckets of water or bananas on their head without using their hands. Young men playing soccer on the beach and a group of young children swimming.

It's interesting to see how the tribal people and modern people coexist. We walk into a pretty modern office building and see two Masai (African Tribe) men walking through in their traditional clothing right next to the woman in her three piece suit speaking Swahili on her cell phone.

In the afternoon we met with David Robinson, Jackie Robinson's son, and one of the founders of Sweet Unity Farms Coffee - a cooperative in a small village in Tanzania. David, though American, has lived in Tanzania for 25 years. When he started thinking about what he could export, he chose coffee because it was one of Tanzania's largest exports at the time and also because the U.S. is the largest coffee drinking market. They started by selling at auctions where international buyers would come to the farm and purchase except that green coffee beans are a commodity and they were receiving very little per pound.

His coffee is owned by a co-op of 650 families in the village. There is an average of 4 farmers per family. He informed us about the difficulties in the coffee industry and the low margins returned to the farmer. There is a poverty rate of 70% in the rural areas of Tanzania. Sweet Unity Farms is trying to sell its coffee to the U.S. market but it's difficult to brand the coffee. Most of the farmers have a 7th grade education and he is having problems competing with the larger companies like Maxwell House, Folgers and Starbucks. For example, David believes that the market in America is ready for products with social merits. It's the best avenue to market the Sweet Unity Farms Coffee except that brands like Starbucks market their fair trade as well. They are much larger and can do a better job in branding.

He has a long road ahead in searching for investors, marketing talent and partners.

From Sarah's blog:

We managed to get time with Tanzania's most famous entrepreneur Reginald Mengi. He was truly an inspiration to us all and even though the room was 100 degrees, time flew by listening to his words of wisdom. Starting small but thinking big is his philosophy along with always having a set destination and plan. What is also inspiring about him is that he gives soo much back to Tanzania. He is not greedy or selfish, but one of the nicest people I will probably ever meet. You cannot help but admire and like him for all that he is accomplished. I would hope to one day look back and think I did something even half as great as he has in my lifetime.

After we met with the Chief Executive of the NMB bank to discuss microlending, banking, and foreign investment in Tanzania. I received a better understanding of the country and what is being done to set up a structure to allow locals to understand about managing money. I also found out that saving money is a completely foreign idea to them. The culture here is to borrow, and borrow more. I was confirmed in my assumption that customer service here is lacking because it is not part of the culture yet. The head of the bank explained that it will take some time for them to understand and they currently take their new employees to Holland to experience it themselves. He is actually from Holland and is living in Tanzania to head the branch. He also explained how it is difficult to manage banks when they are so scattered across hard to get to rural areas. Employment is also a challenge as there aren't enough qualified candidates and the government doesn't want foreign workers taking jobs so there is a gap. This meeting allowed us to get a better sense of the challenges faced when starting a business here in Tanzania.

Lisa (my roommate here) ended up meeting a venture capitalist for SME's in Tanzania in the lobby. She was very interested in our trip and meeting us to discuss possible opportunities and issues that are in Tanzania from her experience living here as an American for 4 years. Kathleen Charles is her name and she has been in Africa for a total of 12 years. She is very bright and speaks 4 languages. She also works with Google.org whom recently held a business plan competition in Tanzania.