I’m a big believer in social enterprise when done well. I believe that small, local businesses are the most sustainable way to go deeper into the 21st century. I believe in this because I want to talk about a dear friend of mine today, Jamal.
I met him in autumn 2015 in Denmark. We were both attending International People’s College at the time. He was a volunteer worker at the school, having just completed two semesters of classes himself. We had a great instant connection, recognising that there was so much to learn from each other. We spoke at length about different world issues, especially ones that affected us directly. Jamal is from Tanzania, and he really opened my eyes to a lot of new concepts and ideas. What’s more, his dedication to the betterment of his community was inspiring to say the least. During his time at IPC, he had managed to use one of the classes to actually start an NGO, and started moving his community to work towards a better future. Amazing, because he was still coming back to Denmark to learn. He has a love for football, and he even secured a volunteer role to help train a local football team to secure certification for training. Unfortunately, due to visa complications, he had to leave Denmark halfway through our term.
I’m never going to forget the day he left. It was a dark day. Winter hadn’t quite yet fallen but Jamal, if you’re reading this, IPC wasn’t the same without you. He was only given a few weeks notice to leave, and in those weeks, we started working together more fervently than we did before. We talked at length about his dream of opening a Sports Centre in his region, where he would be able to inspire boys to take positive actions towards their future when they felt like they didn’t have one. We wrote emails, we made Excel documents, we did as much as we could to make things happen when he got back.
I’ve kept in touch with him a few times over the past year, and recently we had a big catch-up. I have to say, I’m absolutely blown away. Thinking about us sitting in the common room, writing up a Mission Statement and Goals, and now seeing them realised, I swell with pride knowing that my friend has worked so hard to make this happen. Changing lives is what happens when you give it your all, and Jamal is a living example of that. In the last year he has not only started a centre, he has inspired change.
Since opening this time last year, their achievements are as follows:
- 6 students have gone back to school (the Sports Centre has a rule that you need to be in school if you want to participate)
- Increased school attendance (a lot of students would skip school and now they have to sign in and out!)
- Won two championships: 1 regional, and one playing against four countries in Arusha (The Chipukizi Cup for those in the know).
- 70 kids are now joining the Sports Centre on a weekly basis to train
- 3 kids have already gone on to play for the national team
- Received press conference on Tanzanian national television as well as newspapers local, regional, and national.
- Follow their Facebook Page here.
For those that are naysayers to the entrepreneurial people around the world, I’m sorry but you have got it wrong. It doesn’t matter if you don’t have the money right now, or if you have a big dream. You will make it if you believe you will. Believe in yourself, and keep moving forward. Step by step, take the highs with the lows, and don’t stop moving. Don’t give up. And if you can have a year like Jamal has had, well then you are in for great things!