Vision for Rural Opportunity Centers
Educate Tanzania is committed to the intentions and education of the people in Karagwe, Tanzania and its surrounding area. Since its inception in 2010, Educate Tanzania has partnered with Rev Dr. Benson Bagonza and other leaders in Karagwe to help them bring Karagwe University College to life. On 1000 acres, the college opened in Fall, 2018 and teaches students new methods of farming and agriculture-related business. Next steps focus on development of Rural Opportunity Centers (ROCs) so graduates can return to their communities and start or grow a business after KARUCO. ROCs focus on markets, food processing, farm implement rentals, an education center and more.
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Dr. Benson Bagonza, founder of KARUCO was born and raised in Karagwe, Tanzania and was introduced to the U.S. in 1996 when he was admitted to the University of Chicago. For the next eight years he lived in the U.S. and concluded his doctoral research by proposing the establishment of an agricultural university in Tanzania.
To empower the half million people in the Karagwe District and bring them out of poverty through a university-based agribusiness incubator. When Benson returned to Tanzania in 2003 to assume the role of Bishop of the Karagwe Diocese of the Evangelical Lutheran Church (ELCT), he proposed KARUCO (Karagwe University College) in a concept paper. The concept was approved by the general Assembly of the ELCT in 2006.
Since that time, the concept, plans and strategy have been embraced at all levels from Karagwe’s grassroots community members to National leaders in Tanzania’s central government, to global partners of the ELCT.
KARUCO is viewed as the catalyst to climb out of poverty.
In 2008, when Dr. Jan Hansen, a professor at the University of St Thomas in Minnesota, stepped into a student engineering trip to Karagwe, she had no idea her life was about to change.
While in Tanzania, Jan saw the viability of the KARUCO dream. She visited the 1,000 acre proposed campus, met community leaders who supported the vision, read Dr. Bishop Bagonza's dissertation, and knew she could help. She returned to the US to raise funds to purchase the first curriculum for one secondary (feeder) school designed to educate girls. In 2010, Jan returned to Karagwe with her husband Steve, Director of Business Development (solar), Renewable Groups for Mortenson Construction in Minneapolis. Together, Jan and Steve conducted a District-wide needs assessment based upon the framework of Bernard Amadei, Founder of Engineers Without Borders, USA. Based upon a thorough analysis, the Hansens agreed that KARUCO was a solid solution that would empower women and bring Karagwe's people out of poverty.
As a result of that visit, Jan and Steve accepted the invitation to become KARUCO International Ambassadors.
In December 2010, the Hansens determined that in order for the University to be a priority, it needed an organizational umbrella. So Educate Tanzania was established and Jan resigned her position as professor to lead the newly formed organization.
ETI is a Minnesota-based nonprofit organization that partners with the most effective organizations globally in order to “bring education, water and health to the neediest part of the world”.
Our first project is to help build KARUCO in the remote district of Karagwe in Northwest Tanzania. Despite it's remote location with scarce resources and appalling infrastructure, the people are bright and eager to be part of a more global community. Several of Karagwe’s leaders hold advanced degrees from the U.S. and Europe and are dedicated to bringing their people out of poverty through the window of education and agri-business.
Educate Tanzania supports its Tanzanian partners’ efforts to build a university in their own district to offer economic transformation and local empowerment through education.