MKUBWA means “Program to grow entrepreneurship and women entrepreneurs” (the acronym by itself means ‘BIG’) In Kiswahili it is ‘Mpango wa Kukuza Ujasiriamali na Biashara kwa Wanawake’.

A pilot programme started in November 2009 and was funded by the Italian Cooperation through the World Bank for two years, and implemented by the Tanzania Gatsby Trust (TGT) with technical assistance from the Italian NGO Italian Association for Women in Development (AIDOS), which developed the specific incubator model that is being tested in Tanzania

MKUBWA programme targeted growth-oriented micro and small enterprises run by women who wish to improve their current business, and deliver a flexible package of business development services including:

  • Training and advanced business development services;
  • Individual coaching and mentoring; Sector-specific product design and development.

MKUBWA has supported 480 women entrepreneurs in Tanzania for the past three years by increasing their technical and business skills while promoting improved employment opportunities.

Moreover, the program was designed with a scientific intent – measuring, through a rigorous impact evaluation, the effectiveness of an ‘individualized’, flexible business training package as compared to the more traditional training model. MKUBWA tests a new way of:

  • Supporting female micro-entrepreneurs;
  • Increasing their productivity, sales and profits; and,
  • Improving women’s control of income, children’s access to opportunities and household well-being.
  • Lower costs, increased flexibility and an individualized mentoring and business coaching approach are the benefits of this program.

MKUBWA helped 480 women entrepreneurs improve the quality of their products and created business networks, and facilitated improved access to markets in high potential economic sub-sectors (in textile and tailoring, handicraft, processing, poultry, trade and service sectors) by providing to them  classroom-type training  and  Individual and small group training.

In addition to the training provided for women enterprise development; TGT collaborated with several institutions, including relevant Ministries, and Civil Society organizations, for the provision of complementary services to women participating to the program. These complementary services were meant to provide women with relevant information about the support services available to women, and help them deal with personal and family situations that can affect their businesses.

As the sustainability aspect and partnership building during the pilot phase was given strong emphasis. The programme Steering Committee members (Ministries, Banks and NGO’s) were actively engaged in order to ensure consistency with Tanzanian Government Policies, local  buy-in and ownership of the MKUBWA Program to ensure that its activity in support to women entrepreneurs is endorsed by Tanzania stakeholders.

Despite of the impact evaluation done by WB, an internal assessment was conducted by TGT in June 2012, it was evidenced that MKUBWA initiative created positive changes to the women enterprises and minimized the challenges realized in the SMEs Market study findings done in 2009.The finding from the internal evaluation were;

(i)   Programme participants were enthusiastic about the training they received and actively participated throughout the program.

(ii)  the drop-out rate was extremely low.

(iii) Several women who received advanced business development services developed new products and were able to improve their marketing strategies, technical skills, business financial records and increase access to markets and financial services.

Therefore the initial results and impacts created during the pilot phase were very encouraging as a result TGT secured funding from two donor Organizations for scaling up the MKUBWA programmes for three years starting on March 2013.

The phase II MKUBWA is supporting more than 600 women (140 in Kibaha and 500 in Dar es Salaam).

Lastly, TGT is waiting for results from the impact evaluation done by World Bank for publication.