Tanzania’s agriculture minister, Hussein Bashe, expressed support for a group of adolescent girls and young women (AGYW) from the Kyela region to help them set up a cocoa farm as part of their entrepreneurship project under the Walter Reed Program-Tanzania (WRP-T) DREAMS program.
The DREAMS program is funded by the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and provides training and education for AGYW to help them be Determined, Resilient, Empowered, AIDS-free, Mentored and Safe. The initiative includes a package of interventions at the community and clinical levels that address key factors that make young women vulnerable to HIV including gender-based violence, exclusion from economic opportunities and lack of access to secondary school.
Members of parliament visited the WRP-T DREAMS booth where girls showcased their products and shared their stories, achievements and challenges as young embers of the community and self-employed entrepreneurs. During the tour, the agriculture minister said he would provide farmland to grow more cocoa crops to aid their project, saying he was “very touched with [their] innovative ideas on entrepreneurship.”
WRP-T is a partnership between the U.S. Military HIV Research Program at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research and HJFMRI and is implemented by local partners in Tanzania. WRP-T oversees the DREAMS program in the Kyela, Mbalali and Mbeya City regions. In 2023, DREAMS will extend to a fourth location in Tunduma in the Songwe Region.
The WRP-T DREAMS program has reached more than 70,000 adolescent girls and young women in three councils. The program teaches girls various entrepreneurial skills and offers vocational training in electronics, tailoring, hair dressing, soap making, tie-dyeing and more. Beyond learning entrepreneurial skills, the students participate in money saving and economic strengthening groups.