Thursday, September 23, 2010

UMN Students and CTI Inspire Young Entrepreneurs in Tanzania

By Kathleen Clonts, CTI Volunteer

Innovative thinking by students is putting two grinders provided by Compatible Technology International (CTI) to a vital new use in Tanzania.

Two University of Minnesota master’s students worked with students at a school run by Eden Prairie-based Peace House Africa west of Arusha, Tanzania, this summer to brainstorm business uses for two grinders donated by CTI.

The Minnesota students, Samuel Lee and Melanie Plucinski, instructed about 80 students at the Peace House Secondary School in the fundamentals of creating and running a business, from product development to market research. The students came up with an original product concept using the CTI grinders: corn flour that is fortified with moringa leaves, which provide a significant source of beta carotene, vitamin C, protein, calcium, iron and potassium. The flour will add flavor and important nutrients to porridge as well as the traditional Tanzanian corn-based staple called Ugali.

But first the students are raising money to grow moringa trees on the school campus. They hope to begin harvesting the leaves next year, grinding them and putting their business plan into action to create jobs and meet the nutritional needs of local people.

The CTI grinders were donated to Peace House Africa, which runs the school near Arusha for AIDS orphans and vulnerable children. The school’s goal is to build students’ problem-solving and entrepreneurial skills so they will help create a sustainable future for their homeland.