Students discover the drivers of a vibrant, growing economy in Tanzania

From ports to mountains: Terry students delve into developing economies during Maymester in Tanzania

From America’s Southeastern Conference to Africa’s eastern coast, business students dream of building better lives and stronger communities.

That was the key takeaway Noah Amsterdam, a Terry College international business and economics student, brought home after a month-long study away trip to Tanzania.

“It was super fascinating to learn their perspective on living life in Tanzania and their perspectives on business,” Amsterdam said after meeting University of Dar es Salaam business students. “Their goals had a lot of overlap with our goals, but they were different because of where they are in the country. That was an eye-opening experience for me.”

Amsterdam was one of 17 Terry College students visiting Tanzania’s cultural and economic hubs in May with the Business and Culture in Tanzania program. Students visited the historic trading hub in Zanzibar, the modern capital city of Dar es Salaam and toured the country’s resort and ecotourism centers.

The trip, led by legal studies professor Greg Day and University of Georgia history professor Montgomery Wolf, highlighted Tanzania’s history, its decolonization period and how the economy grows today.

“It was fun to explore and to experience a different culture,” Day said. “But it was interesting to see how the students did a good job of understanding the economy in Tanzania, and how the history impacted people’s lives today.”

Over the past 20 years, tourists flocked to Tanzania to see its ancient ports and markets and the natural beauty of Mount Kilimanjaro and the Serengeti. The hospitality gives the economy a leg up, but young people and business leaders know the economy can’t solely rely on tourism and continue to grow, Amsterdam said.

“There’s a lot of entrepreneurial spirit,” Amsterdam said. “The students we met were good at analyzing problems that need to be fixed in Tanzania and coming up with solutions … But it’s very, very difficult to get a business off the ground because Tanzania doesn’t have the same infrastructure in place to nurture new businesses that we have in the U.S.”

During the study away tour, they met with people creating tech incubators in Dar es Salaam and development organizations outside the city that train women to start solar panel installation businesses. 

“The companies that stood out to us as impressive were the ones on the ground in the communities and solving practical problems,” Amsterdam said. “One stop was an organization recruiting women from rural villages and training them to install solar panels. By doing this, they were helping to end the stigma surrounding women in education and bringing power to these parts of the country without electricity.”

Amsterdam, who plans to graduate in May 2024, was interested in development economics before the trip said the experience solidified his plan to find a job allowing him to travel after graduation.

“Going abroad is an eye-opening experience,” he said. “Being able to do this so early in my life has expanded my worldview.”

(Photo courtesy of Noah Amsterdam)