|The Education and Training of Artisans for the Informal Sector in Tanzania - Education Research Paper No. 18 (DFID, 1996, 143 p.)|
In examining the composition of informal sector enterprises, there appears to be two distinct models, the first operates a policy of 'ring-fencing' where entry is restricted to the extended family and close friends. The other, mainly observed in Nguvu kazi groups, represents more of an 'open-door' policy as the only barrier to entry is the joining fee. In the former case, although the needs of the extended family may well be catered for, family training/apprenticeship structures may seriously inhibit innovation and enterprise, as there is little scope for the introduction of new ideas, methods or processes. In the latter, a general lack of skill(s) and experience by all group members contributes to the difficulties of establishing and maintaining their business. In those instances where groups were established by skilled operators, a viable enterprise was more likely. This type of group enabled new members to be admitted that were either already trained, or in the case of younger members, receive training. The opportunity for innovation and enterprise appears to be greatest in this type of group.
The majority of operators interviewed started without any clear notion of how to operate a business, nor had they the capability to undertake a feasibility study to see if their intended activity would be viable, e.g. if they intended to rear and sell poultry, was there any other local suppliers and if so, what would be the effect on trade. One could not expect people (mainly educated to Std VII) to have the capability to envisage the need for such activities, but it exposes the inherent weaknesses in the system. Groups that have prospered as a result of assistance from the ILO, MLYD or SIDO are testimony that meaningful SR activities can only be achieved by providing a combination of physical resources, capital and the knowledge to effectively manage the enterprise.
The needs of the extended family govern the operational characteristics of many subsistence operators, but in doing so negates the opportunity to maximise the financial return for their labours. Many instances were found of groups and co-operatives that were actually communes, as they operated to fulfil their individual or family need to the exclusion of all others. This is recognised and capitalised on by middle-men and clients who exploit the plight of those less fortunate. This has led to a live-for-the-moment, here-today-gone-tomorrow lifestyle which dominates subsistence operators. One subsistence operator recalled that during the school holidays when his children helped him he earned more. This enabled him to visit the bars, drink Safari and buy more meat, and live it up, but when the children returned to school and his earnings were reduced, he was forced to drink the local brew. However, without greater checks and balances to deter corruption by elected executive members of groups, and/or the provision of elementary business skills to subsistence operators, then it is difficult to envisage any significant change in the current situation. The example clearly illustrates that in this particular instance, if the operator engaged an apprentice(s) the transition from subsistence to small-scale operator was possible. This is not to say that all subsistence operators have the potential or capability to become small scale operators, but on the evidence of the study, the potential exists for a significant number of enterprises to achieve this transition, if they received the necessary guidance and support.
The transition from subsistence to small-scale operators appears to correspond to three factors, first a revised work ethic, characterised by a more formal approach to work, i.e. regularity of attendance etc, the second is the type of the work, (the demand for goods or services) and finally, the accumulation of profit to create capital. In practice this discounts many of the Nguvu kazi activities as they fail to fulfil the second factor which is an essential precursor to the third. Operators involved in activities where trade is expanding, i.e. motor vehicles and the manufacture of consumer goods appear to have the most opportunity, but this in itself will not guarantee the necessary accumulation of profit. A key factor in maximising profit is to enlist a number of unpaid apprentices and by staggering this process, an operator can increase his profit, whilst spending the minimum time instructing the trainees.
Many apprentices/trainees receive no wages, only an allowance for meals and transport. The operators do not consider this to be exploitation, merely expediency, to cover the cost of loss or damage, but in practice the youth are expected to operate as artisans, while the operator derives the financial reward.
There is a conflict between the small-scale employer and the state, for to avoid taxation and other legislation capital accumulated is not reinvested in the original business, but diversified and invested in other ventures. In so doing the entrepreneur seeks to evade the attentions of the Treasury and by repeating the process, is capable of accumulating wealth at the expense of the state. However, the avoidance of taxation is endemic and is a throwback to the days of 'wider Keynsian' economic policies.
Overall, levels of skill are very high but the artisans knowledge of materials and processes is in many instances virtually non existent. VIMEGRO operatives cast 'aluminium' but had only a vague notion that the composition of aluminium varied from product to product, depending on the application. Similarly blacksmiths and welders have very little knowledge of metallurgy and the importance of working metals at certain temperatures, or of selecting the correct welding rod, or the appropriate flame. Although it is acknowledged that many jobs do not require such knowledge e.g. the fabrication of window grills, but when forging a piece of steel or welding a leaf-spring such knowledge is important for it directly effects the quality of the finished product, reliability and in some instances the safety of those who operate or use the product or service.
The prejudices of artisans towards VTC's also prevents many trainees from attending night-school to study for national Trade Tests. This constrains the opportunity for trainees or journeymen (machinga) to gain the theoretical knowledge that would enable them to improve the quality of the products or service they provided.
These observations and the comments made by artisans and operators throughout this study have reinforced the belief that within the sector there exists the raw materials, i.e. skilled artisans who if properly assisted could play a significant role in the future socio-economic development of the country. Many of the artisans have demonstrated their potential as innovators, trainers and entrepreneurs, but by their own admission, they are constrained by a lack of knowledge.