By Jeremy Boles
“This is Dar. It’s on the up, metropolitan, everything’s available. Four years ago nothing was available.”
This passing remark by a South African living in Tanzania for the past 5 years stood out to me. The country has had remarkable economic growth in the past few years, in fact it's the eighth fastest growing GDP in the world. This fast growth is one of the reasons we chose Tanzania in the first place; with extreme growth comes great opportunities and risks for businesses, and provide an environment in which consultants can be the most valuable.
Setting Up TSCG
I couldn't help but reflect on this thought during our most exciting workshop. It was the most important in our series because it was about the sustainability of the new group. This was the first time that we had brought together the three workshop groups, inviting anyone who has shown commitment to the idea throughout the past three weeks to participate in a discussion about the future of TSCG. We started the meeting with "OK you've seen what it's like to be part of a student consulting group in the past few weeks, but this was the pilot phase. You've learnt a lot about consulting through the workshops and worked on a client project. But next week we go home, if you actually want to set up the Tanzanian Student Consulting Group it is all up to you now. Do you want to?" This was met with a lot of excitement and agreement; they certainly did want to. At this point we simply said "we're here to help, we've done it before and can give advice about it. So ask us questions. What do you need to know about starting and running a student consulting group?"
The "workshop", with ~25 people in attendance, quickly turned into TSCG's inaugural AGM. The Red Ball was excitedly thrown around from questioner to questioner. As we answered more questions we started adding structure and creating a bigger picture through the questions, drawing out a map of the elements to be considered.
At one point, the Dean of UDSM Business School dropped in to show his support and offer assistance in establishing the organisation. We asked him some questions, got his advice, and confirmed some logistical details needed to operate in the university. After this he delivered an encouraging speech, joined in a group photo, and returned to work promising his continued support.
As we resumed discussion the continuous question quickly became "If there are so many people involved how do we ensure responsibility to take this forward after you leave?" As facilitators, we knew that question was up to them to answer. Eventually, after plenty of debate about it, the group decided to elect a President. We suggested that anyone who would like to run for President to nominate themselves. This turned out to not be a culturally acceptable thing to do as no one self-nominated. Eventually three candidates were nominated and pitched their experience, backgrounds, and passion for the organisation. We facilitated the voting by collecting and counting the ballots.
Electing a President was a momentous moment for the new organisation, it made it feel very real for myself and the rest of the team. The organisation is going to continue now that there is a direct leader who will ensure the success of the organisation. Suddenly, the Tanzanian Student Consulting Group is no longer an ISCG project attempting to start something new, it is a new organisation with its own direction and leadership. When we return home we will continue to support it remotely, but the success of the organisation hinges on TSCG's members and their new President.
Amani Shayo is the newly elected President. He has great leadership experience having been President of the Tanzanian chapter of AIESEC (an international student organisation). He is currently finishing university after his exams in a couple of weeks and is still going to be working on campus as he is now representing AIESEC in Tanzania on the international management team. He is excited about starting a new organisation, and in his future career he hopes to start his own for-profit consulting company.
Amani Shayo, president of Tanzanian Student Consulting Group, is a good friend whom I am confident will do an excellent job of starting and leading TSCG. Perhaps through his work the Tanzanian economy will grow even further and faster.