This blog post was written by Matthias Breil, second-year MSc in Business student
Students of the MSc. in Business program should not miss out on this opportunity – in your 2nd year you will have to choose electives from a wide range of different fields. Among your options are the four Doing Business classes that include a study trip to Germany, Japan, China or Tanzania, respectively. Developing countries in Africa are struggeling especially when it comes to higher education that promotes entrepreneurship and sustainable growth, as Prof. Marianne Jahre from BI Norwegian Business School also analyzes in her latest Business Review that you can find here.
The school offers a class exploring exactly that as we analyzed the business environment in Africa in general and Tanzania in particular, and opened up our mind towards investments into developing countries using sustainable methods. We had several classes during the semester in which we discussed reports and papers and listened to guest lectures to learn more about the often referred as forgotten continent, but the highlight is of course the field trip. We as a class went for one week to Tanzania to study and inspect the Tanzanian business environment, startups, factories and several plantations in cooperation with the Norwegian Embassy in Tanzania and the local Mzumbe University. So let’s dig into what we did during that week in Tanzania!
After arrival in Dar es Salaam, the week was kicked-off meeting Professor Emmanuel Chao from the local Mzumbe University and two of his student assistants who would accompany us during the week for dinner in a restaurant next to our hotel on Sunday evening. The week was packed with incredibly interesting visits of factories, plantations and startups that gave us the perspective from local Tanzanian businesses that you would never experience as a tourist just visiting the country. We started on Monday with a visit at the Norwegian Embassy for a general overview of the political and economic situation in Tanzania. Afterwards we went to the University in Dar es Salaam for an excursion about the Tanzanian taxation issues and visited two startups that provide solar energy and affordable housing solutions to the communities.
On Tuesday morning as early as 6:00 we packed our stuff for the next three days and went off to Morogoro, which is roughly 200km in the west of Dar es Salaam to inspect a tobacco factory and Africa’s largest textile factory. Wednesday morning started even earlier at 5:30 in the morning as we took the time for an early morning game drive through the nearly located Mikumi National park to see some Giraffes, Buffalos, Zebras and half a dozen different kinds of Antelopes.
Afterwards we visited the main campus of Mzumbe University for a workshop with master students, the startup incubator and a university solar energy project. On Thursday we inspected a rice plantation and a sustainable farming project backed by Norwegian Church Aid before we headed back through the crazy Tanzanian traffic to Dar es Salaam – 8 hours for 200km can become at some point quite nerve-wrecking.
On the last day we visited the Norwegian company Yara, who run an agricultural training project across Tanzania for their fertilizer products that increase the output for farmers by more than tenfold. We finished the study trip in the evening with a dinner in a nice restaurant close by our hotel – but what remains are the incredible experiences we gained on this trip!
And one of the advantages of being a student is that you can extend your stay afterwards for another week to for instance backpack through some rural areas in the north of the country as I did. So I jumped on one of the Tanzanian turboprop planes and took off to Arusha, located between Mount Kilimanjaro and the Serengeti. My initial plan of doing a proper safari or hiking Kilimanjaro were unfortunately jeopardized by the ridiculous prices (just the park fees for hiking Kilimanjaro can accumulate $700). But luckily every place has some hidden gems for travelers with a small budget – so I found a place to do an even better safari on a bicycle and did some hiking in non-touristic areas to an 80m waterfall. These days were obviously entirely different than the field trip the week before, not so much business-related but rather exploring the unbelievable nature on hikes, tasty street food and the astounding welcoming behavior of the Tanzanian people.
The mixture of both the field trip with the class and the backpacking experience made this trip unforgettable and I can highly, highly recommend to take this class, especially if you are interested in developing countries, business opportunities in different cultures and bridging the inequality gap on our planet.
Kukuona wakati ujao and Asante sana, Tanzania!