“When I started working here three years ago, I don’t think many Tanzanians knew about briquettes. But times are changing and now we sell them in most of Dar es Salaam. People here really like them and we are working hard to keep up with demand.”

Joyce is one of 26 OYE participants working at ARTI Energy, a briquette manufacturing company. Joyce joined the OYE project three years ago. “Before coming here I used to sell soap on the streets, from door to door. I was able to support myself but I didn’t have a steady income like I do now.” Feeling stuck in her situation, Joyce decided to join the OYE project.

After joining the project, Joyce and her fellow students followed a short training programme on basic life skills. They discussed skills they would need to succeed as an employee: going to work on time, working in a team. “I was already in business before I joined the project, but working for a company is very different. The course helped me understand the different responsibilities I would have and how to succeed.”

After receiving her initial training, Joyce started working at ARTI Energy and learned to make briquettes on the job. She and her fellow workers are each specialised in one task. “At the moment I am a line worker. I am responsible for preparing and boiling dried cassava which is used as a binder in the charcoal mixture.” Joyce spends most of her working hours between piles of dried cassava bought from farms outside the city. Having never attended high school, Joyce is proud to have the necessary skills to produce briquettes.

Joyce with manufactured briquettes

Moving up the ladder

With her work at the factory, Joyce earns about 150,000 Tanzanian shillings (€57) per month after her taxes are deducted. Her current salary, modest as it might be, allows her to pay her monthly rent, transport, food and other basic necessities.

Joyce and six other young people who are performing very well at ARTI Energy also received supplementary training on entrepreneurship and business skills. The additional skills and moral boost, has encouraged Joyce to think about her future at the company in a different light. She wants to become a salesperson. “I hope to start selling the briquettes and educate more people about their many benefits.”

The need for alternatives to traditional charcoal like briquettes is expected to rise further, as taxes on traditional charcoals are increasing. “Briquettes are popular in Dar now, but we don’t yet have many customers from outside the city. I think that we will have to teach more people how to make them, as more and more people outside the city will begin to use them.”