Strengthening Small Businesses in Tanzania

17 Jan 2014


UNV Project Coordinator, Philip Mwesigwa advising a group of exhibitors at the Mbeya Trade Fare (November 2013)

The Tanzania Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture (TCCIA) is an umbrella private sector business member based organization that provides support to its members who are largely SMEs and the business community in Tanzania.

Through the United Nations Volunteer Programme in Tanzania, the UN provides support to the TCCIA with the aim of enhancing the Chamber’s capacity to provide quality and timely advisory services to its members. This includes business development services to small and medium enterprises (SMEs) for improved entrepreneurship, improved quality of products and services, standards, innovation market solutions and application of new technologies. Under this project, a team of UN Volunteers serves at the Chamber sharing their technical skills in various capacities towards strengthening TCCIA to effectively deliver business support services to the TCCIA members.

The UNVs have provided technical support in designing interventions to help address the challenges faced by the Chamber. Central among the challenges is the membership recruitment and retention.  It was observed that the regional offices do not have sufficient capacity and strategies to recruit and retain members. The membership loss was quite high and this was mainly attributed to lack of adequate services given to members. Under the TCCIA, the UNV team is working on addressing these issues by strengthening the technical capacity of TCCIA Regional Offices. This includes strategies on membership recruitment and retention, increasing service for membership satisfaction, strengthening communication and outreach to members, and developing database in the regional offices.

The UN support provides SMEs and other social economic organizations in selected subsectors to have access to business development services. This contributes to the United Nations Development Assistance Plan by promoting viable pro-poor business sectors and SMEs. The support forms part of UN work with private sector organizations in supporting poverty reduction, economic growth and development.  It is funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). 

"TCCIA started receiving Volunteers (National and International) from UNV since 2008 in the field of information Technology (ICT) and Marketing. The presence of Volunteers at TCCIA has played a huge role in the day to day running of TCCIA activities. The UNVs bring expertise, friendship, understanding, team spirit and the desire to help and make a difference not only to the Chamber but also to the business community at large." Emmanuel Nnko - Marketing Officer TCCIA.

In addition, the UNVs have inspired volunteerism in the management of the regional chambers, encouraging the management team in the region to be innovative in mobilizing resources for the sustainable operation of the regional chambers. In one of the regions, Rukwa, business owners were motivated to contribute resources for the running of the regional office and raised over 6 million Tanzania shillings. The UNVs have also supported the election process of new leaders and management of the regional chambers. The four UNVs at TCCIA have added to the human resource capacity at TCCIA, engaging in programmes and sharing technical skills to enhance the credibility of TCCIA.

By Mwesigwa G. Philip

UNV Project Coordinator