In January 1996, the Kisangani Smith Group initiated the Black Smith Project to address two problems that were noted by the founders: the high rate of crime due to unemployment and the lack of simple farming tools for laborers wishing to engage in diversified agriculture and horticulture. The project provides both vocational training and employment to vulnerable young people while helping the wider local community to break the cycle of poverty by producing high-quality agricultural tools and irrigation equipment at affordable prices.
The availability of this equipment enables local farmers to improve irrigation of their crops and use better farming techniques, increasing the size and yield of their harvest. In the past ten years, from 1996 to 2006, this project has trained 120 youths. Out of these, 110 are self-employed, 50 in groups of five and 60 individually
An example of both the technological and vocational contributions of this program is the Kisa water pump built by the Black Smith Program in Njombe, which draws water using pistons attached to rope. The pump has the capacity to extract water 30 meters below ground. Kisangani Smith Group Managing Director Reuben Mtitu said, in an interview reported in Business News, that “the pump has the power to provide services to 10 households. People in the area are using it for irrigation when there is no rain. Other pieces of equipment, which we are making, are sprinklers for irrigation on the farm. Our main activity is the construction of agricultural equipment. The other activity carried out by the firm is training youth who have no employment and offering training to those who have failed to go to colleges. The firm also teaches orphans to enable them employ themselves and therefore be self-reliant. In 1996, a total of 30 youths were trained and have established their businesses and are now self-reliant.”
The financial resources to support both the vocational and artisan sides of the Black Smith Program are mobilized through various ways, including members’ subscription and fees, scrap metal sales, and income generated from sales of simple agricultural tools made by the NGO. International Organizations such as Swiss Contact and the American Embassy have provided technical assistance to the program in training its vocational students how to produce and then resell their tools.
Reuben Patrick Mtitu
Kisangani Smith Group
P.O Box 588 Njombe, Tanzania
Tel: + 255 744 458126