Paving a stronger future with Tanzania's youth-led civil society organizations

July 19, 2022
Staff from YAWE and Pact work together during an assessment of YAWE's strengths and weaknesses. Credit: Aidan Tarimo/Pact

Youth and Women Emancipation, or YAWE, has big goals. Founded in 2017 with a national mandate, the Tanzanian civil society organization works to build civic engagement and accountability in Tanzania, end violence against women and children, promote climate justice and improve health and economic empowerment.

One of the group's strongest assets is the energy of the young people who lead it. But youth-led civil society groups often face serious organizational and operational deficiencies because of their leaders' inexperience. This leads to inadequacies in the areas of accounting, procurement, grants, personnel management, oversight and governance systems, decision-making processes and more.

Recognizing the need for strong and vibrant youth-led civil societies, Pact's Data-Driven Advocacy (DDA) project supports these civil society groups in developing organizational structures and effective operational mechanisms for quality programming and sustainable impact. Pact does this using our proven capacity development tools that have been strengthening local organizations around the world for decades.

DDA is a USAID-funded project that seeks to improve and sustain the ability of Tanzanian civil society organizations to influence policy on rights issues through the strategic use of better data and information. Freedom House, in partnership with Pact, implements the project.

Under DDA, Pact's capacity development package hinges on procurement, leadership, resources mobilization and business sustainability, human resources and staff performance management, finance and grants management. The package has produced sustainable improvements in organizations' management, administration and performance.

For YAWE, much has changed since it began working with Pact. It has developed a procurement policy and finance manual that define and outline these key processes. The organization has also saved nearly TZS 10,000,0000 (about USD $4,300) through a competitive tendering process.

"Now, we do things systematically and in a well-defined process. For example, we currently do strategic and competitive sourcing, which have helped us save about 10 million shillings in six months," said Sebastian Manoni, YAWE's finance manager.

Compliance with donor and government requirements is another critical topic that YAWE has learned. The organization has initiated new processes like properly filing and documenting reports, employee records and performance management. Further, YAWE has improved its organizational policies, such as Child Protection, to include matters of anti-human trafficking, among others.

YAWE has now reached over 60,000 young people across five councils in Tanzania's Shinyanga and Simiyu regions.

"As young people, we need the skills, tools and platforms for doing excellent work," said Vincent Laurent, executive director for YAWE. "Now, we have been able to learn and adopt the best practices from Pact. We have been given the platform to network with other like-minded organizations."

With the improvement he has seen, Laurent wants to build a platform for other young people to come and learn.

"I believe that with strong systems and quality programming, many young people would be interested in working with us. We are envisioning being a model youth-led organization which every young person and stakeholder would be interested in working with."

YAWE's transformation has helped it to build trust with new partners. "Whenever a development partner comes to Shinyanga or Simiyu regions and seeks a youth-led organization to partner with, we are normally recommended by the officials from the Regional Secretariats. They trust us because of our track record of performance," said Scholastica Joseph, the administration officer at YAWE.

"Now, we do things systematically and in a well-defined process."

Sebastian Manoni, YAWE finance manager

Youth take part in a Hakizetu vocational training workshop. Credit: Aidan Tarimo/Pact

Hakizetu Organization is another youth and women-led health and social justice nonprofit that has benefited from DDA's capacity development support. Hakizetu focuses on protecting legal and human rights, promoting the health and wellbeing of children, women and youth, and advocating for gender equality. Hakizetu works in 10 councils across three regions of Tanzania.

Through capacity development, the organization has refined its accounting and finance systems. This improvement enabled Hakizetu to secure a three-year grant instead of an annual one.

"We have been working with Segal Foundation for three years now. They would grant us an annual grant every year," explained Gervas Evodius, Hakizetu's executive director. "After finding that our financial manual has been updated and we have adopted the use of QuickBooks among other breakthroughs, we were given a three-year grant."

Both YAWE and Hakizetu are now exploring social enterprises as mechanisms for ensuring their financial sustainability. They are also seeking partnerships with the private sector to co-create interventions with lasting impact.