Tying Knots with Tanzania: The Backstory

We invest 20% of our profits earned in charitable causes with a key focus on changing the lives of widows, school children, and young professionals in Tanzania.

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When the Ties Run Deep

Twenty-one years…That’s how much time my parents spent in Africa.
That’s how I’d come to speak Swahili.
And maybe that’s why I so readily agreed to send a check to a child I knew nothing about for twelve years…or I could blame my wife.

I could say my wife and son are the reason Business Innovations is a company I can be proud of. The reason why my employees clock into work feeling determined and proud of this company.

Wherever I lay the blame, I lay my many thanks.

But back to blaming my wife (when I say “blaming,” I really mean thanking).

If Tanzania and I were two ropes running parallel, there would be four big knots tying us together.

“Sometimes your wife can get you into all sorts of trouble. In this case, my wife and son started me down a path that changed my business.”

The First Knots Weren’t Tied By Me

Sometimes, your wife can get you into all sorts of trouble. In my case, my wife and son started me down a path that changed my business. They signed us up to sponsor a child in Africa through a program we connected with through our church called Ubora.

Ubora is a Christian organization that aims to create sustainable change in the Siha District of Tanzania. They focus on four programs designed to provide solutions for the physical, educational, and spiritual needs of the people in those communities.

My wife and son have traveled to Karansi, Tanzania, on numerous occasions to support Ubora initiatives. On one of these trips, my wife taught ballet to some of the local children in Karansi. That’s where she met our Doreen. Shortly after my wife and son returned from their trip, we began writing a monthly check to sponsor Doreen and her family, and I thought nothing more of it.

That was the end of it for 12 whole years until a couple of businessmen from my church connected to the Ubora project took me back to Tanzania to help lead a business conference.

That trip would be the one that tied the final knot between Tanzania and me.

Speaking to Local Business Owners in Tanzania

When I was first approached to speak at a business conference in Tanzania, my first response was no. When they asked me to pray on it, I responded that I didn’t need to. I was so sure I didn’t need to go.

It turned out that was precisely what was supposed to happen. There were many reasons why I hesitated. The main one was that my business was just beginning to recoup its losses during COVID-19, and I couldn’t spare time to run off to Africa. It was a legitimate reason, but thankfully, the call was stronger. After some thought, prayer, and the go-ahead from Loraine, I found a rare opening in my calendar to jet off to Africa.

During the two-day conference in Tanzania, the two other businessmen and I would speak to 40 local business leaders and others about business fundamentals. After the seminar, we scheduled consulting visits with local businesses to talk with them about their concerns.

Following the conference, we focused on creating an internship program for students who had graduated from the Siha Leadership School and were struggling to find job placement due to a lack of business connections.
We concentrated on connecting our new interns with the local business owners who had attended our conference and tapped into our networks around the country to see who could help put our interns to work. Much of our attention was spent fine-tuning their resumes and developing their interviewing skills. With a lot of diligence and grit, the internship program was off to a running start.

Overall, I treated my work there as very important, but the more profound calling was yet to come.

With every strand, our knots grow stronger.

While in Tanzania, my wife urged me to visit our sponsor child, Doreen. Initially, I agreed without giving it much thought. However, as I sat across from Doreen and her mother in their home, the reality of their lives struck me. These were the individuals whom my wife and son had been supporting with the $50 check I wrote each month. The connection became tangible, especially when Doreen’s mother expressed gratitude, stating that my family’s contribution had significantly changed their lives.

At that moment, they had no idea that the person they were thanking was the one behind those monthly checks. It dawned on me – this family, once just a withdrawal from our bank account, now embodied the impact of our support. This realization fueled a desire to do more. Upon returning home, I dedicated myself to working with the SLS Premium Intern Program leadership team to help improve the framework for what has evolved into a thriving internship and entrepreneurship program in Tanzania. Now Business Innovations contributes 20 percent of our profits to this effort, and it’s made our company better for it.

I may not have been the one who initiated my connection with Tanzania (I still blame my wife and son for that), but I am stronger for it. Along the way, others have come along for the journey- other business leaders, Business Innovations employees, and, of course, Business Innovations customers have become a part of the knots that bind our company to the young people in a tiny village a world away. Those connections are making an impact, and I couldn’t be prouder of what we’re accomplishing together.

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“We not only contribute to the community but actively engage with our clients to multiply our impact, offering branded merch, volunteer hours, and financial sponsorships.

Through the years, we have donated untold amounts of corporate donations that have supported the lives of those in  need.

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