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Going to school is a... social enterprise


icona educazionepolitecnicoNjombe training school: a social enterprise to guarantee quality education to boys and girls living in rural areas of the region of Njombe, Tanzania



Tanzania, Region of Iringa, Njombe



Starting from 2010



For young Tanzanians from the more disadvantaged social segments, education is almost always an unreachable dream because of the elevated costs, lack of structures and infrastructures and the presence of other cultural issues (gender disparity, underestimation of the educational role of parents, etc.). These conditions are particularly accentuated in the rural areas.
To respond to this problem ACRA has established its first social enterprise in Tanzania, Education & Entrepreneurship Ltd, a non profit organization according to Tanzanian law . E&E has launched the management of the "Njombe training school" whose beneficiaries are low income young people living in the rural areas. These young boys and girls must have attended at least 7 years of primary school and be of 14 to 19 years of age.
The issues a legally recognized diploma and offers vocational/business training, centred on the construction sector (carpentry, masonry, electrotechnics and plumbing), agriculture (market gardening, cultivation of cereals, livestock breeding and aquaculture) and tourism (catering, hotel activities).



To implement this project, ACRA studied different vocational training models and opted for, after a visit to Paraguay and various comparisons, for the model of the "self sufficient training school" developed by the Fundacion Paraguaya. The main objective of the Fundacion Paraguaya is to develop innovative solutions to contrast poverty and promote youth employment.
The key component for this model is represented by an innovative methodology based on the constitution of micro-businesses, managed by students and teachers. These "enterprises" serve as a learning platform for students who thus have the opportunity to put into practice the skills achieved in school and which, once they have qualified, will have the necessary competences to find a good job, to start a business activity or to improve the family run farming activities.
At the same time, the proceeds obtained from the sale of the goods and services provided by these micro businesses on the local market will enable to cover all running costs (including amortisation), ensuring thus their long term economic-financial sustainability, without having to depend on public subsidies or having to raise the cost of the fees, which is merely symbolic.


Social IMPACT expected

The first academic year started in March 2012 with the enrolment of 70 students. This number will increase progressively on the basis of the construction of the facilities and infrastructures which are still to be completed. The school at full capacity will train 250 students respecting gender equality.
After they receive their diploma, the students with the skills gained, can improve the economic conditions of their families, increasing the possibility for their brothers and sisters to attend the school, not limiting their education to primary level and thus avoiding the entrance into the job market at menial levels. This model of market oriented education will give the qualified students the competences to:

  • find a good job in the modern agriculture and crafts sector;
  • return to the family and start their own farming or handicrafts enterprise with a proper business plan ;
  • spread their competence as agents of change in the rural sector, promoters of microcredit or technicians in other vocational schools;
  • continue their education at higher levels.

The initiative also has positive repercussions on the entire territory of Njombe, through the provision of high quality products and services. The specialist skills gained by the young boys and girls during the training period will also contribute to guarantee the presence of qualified personnel that can respond to the growing demand, deriving from the recent development of the productive fabric of the area.



In general terms the sustainability is guaranteed by the model's approach which plans the achievement of breaking even by the fifth year of activities and the much sought after emancipation from the logic of continued subsidies. The direct management provided by ACRA together with the continued support by Fundacion Paraguaya will provide guidance in the path towards operative, economic and financial sustainability.
The theory and practice learning activities will gradually guarantee the economic sustainability of the initiative on two fronts:

  • by placing the products/services provided by the different sectors on the local market;
  • by using part of the production for self consumption guaranteeing proper nutrition to the members of the school community and reducing dependency on the external market.

Environmental sustainability is pursued through the research within the school of a responsible consumption and use of local resources. The school will promote the spreading and adoption of organic agriculture as a model that is respectful of the environment and of people, through the theoretic and practical teaching inherent to the agriculture department and through the sensitization of the local consumer.


The total cost to reach the full operation of the school is estimated at € 635,870.
The financial projections indicate that by the 5th year of the School shall completely cover its operating costs and become financially independent.

The management model school is set up as a social enterprise.
Education & Entrepreneurship Ltd. (E&E), that manage the school, is composed of five members:

  • ACRA
  • Nessuno Escluso (italian non profit association)
  • Africa Ways Ltd (tanzanian organization that deals with rural development and environmental)
  • Libra (italian social cooperative that has built the School of Njombe)
  • Diocese of Njombe (local partner of ACRA and the owner of the goods entrusted loan ten-year to E&E)


E&E is a company incorporated in Tanzania officially registered on 20/10/2011 with No. 86629 as "Company limited by Guarantee". The members are not shareholders but memberships and bylaws of the company is clearly marked as non-profit vocation. Any benefits must be reinvested in the activities of the company itself or in social activities.


Beyond the project

>>> Education & Entrepreneurship Ltd, an innovative market-based learning model for young entrepreneurs in Tanzania