06 Mar Bringing communities together as a HerStart Business Development Fellow in Tanzania

Written by Alifiya Jamaly, HerStart Business Development Fellow in Tanzania


I joined YCI’s HerStart program hoping to use my skills and knowledge to benefit a few people in another part of the world. Not only was I able to achieve this goal, but I was able to reach far more people than I could have ever anticipated in ways I never expected.  

My two proudest moments as a HerStart Fellow both involved bringing together communities of people. The first, and most unexpected, was hosting a Sports Day event in a small village on the Southern coast of Zanzibar. Beginning with a small idea and growing with the help of local organizations and friends, I was able to attract a community of over 300 people to participate in football games, strength competitions and other activities for over 6 hours of fun. The event shone a light on women in sports by bringing together female-only football teams and other women participants together in a typically male-dominated activity. The event provided a unique mobilization strategy to invite young women into the HerStart social entrepreneurship training program, as well as an opportunity to challenge gender norms and build their confidence to participate in activities outside of the norm. The confidence and fulfillment I gained from materializing an idea formed by a passion for sport into an event attended by hundreds is immeasurable.  

The second and most rewarding project I oversaw was hosting six career development workshops in six weeks for over 50 youth at the YCI office in Zanzibar. The workshops covered various topics including CV writing, interview prep, social entrepreneurship, climate action, gender equality and business pitching. With each week our attendance grew and the HerStart program became better known by our new community of young individuals. The participants were eager to create a WhatsApp group chat that allowed them to stay in touch with their fellow workshop attendees and even share upcoming events and opportunities with each other.   

By the end of the six weeks, we had new registrations to the HerStart program, inquiries on dates of our next events and thank-yous for our work. Having over 30 students return the next week, and the week after that, was enough for me to feel that I had made an impact in at least one person’s life, opening them up to new information, possibilities, and resources that they didn’t previously have access to. This is the same goal I had set out to achieve. 

Learn more about YCI’s HerStart Fellowships for Canadians of all ages to contribute their skills and gain international volunteer experience while collaborating with women and global partners to drive social entrepreneurship and gender equality.