Our story

Mboni ya Vijana was founded around ten years ago by Benedicto Hosea, the son of an illiterate subsistence farmer in the rural Zeze community. When Benedicto was a child, crop harvests were good, and families could feed themselves. But as the village grew, more and more people tried to make a living from the land.

Damaging and unsustainable farming practices led to poor harvests and widespread food insecurity leading to hunger. Benedicto attended Mbondo State Secondary School near Kasulu. At first, he was able to travel there on his bicycle, but this had to be sold to pay school fees, which were only dropped for state schools in Tanzania in 2016.

His walk was 26km to and from school each day, which left little time for playing football and homework. After achieving high grades in his Form IV exams, Benedicto was assigned by the government to Njombe secondary school in the Southern Highlands. But after arriving at Njombe he was excluded from the school because his family didn’t have enough savings to pay his school fees up-front.

Far from home, he found himself working for the Kibena Tea Company for two years to scrape together enough money to continue his education. Through a twist of fate, Benedicto was given the opportunity to continue his education and go to college, where he studied land degradation, climate change and sustainable farming practices.

Throughout college, Benedicto struggled to survive on a small grant, whilst his fellow students nicknamed him “Lampard” after the footballer famous for his long passes, because Benedicto could not afford to eat every day, and went with long gaps between meals. These challenges fuelled his determination to fight hunger and inequality in his community.  Benedicto returned to Zeze and founded Mboni ya Vijana in 2014. He has remained dedicated to the initiative ever since.

In 2018, the Britain Tanzania Society sponsored him to visit the United Kingdom and speak at parliament about his work. He was awarded a Commonwealth Point of Light Award by Her Majesty the Queen. 

Despite many setbacks, since then, MvG has steadily moved forward:

  • Funding campaigns by TDT have allowed MvG to develop a regular business drilling shallow rope-pump boreholes to bring clean water to schools and villages around Zeze: over 100 have been drilled in the last four years.
  • Farmer training is now supported by a micro-finance scheme that provides small 8-10 month loans to 170- 200 people at any one time, helping them set up small businesses as well as buy seeds and fertilisers.
  • A very generous grant of US$ 150,000 from Corteva in 2020 helped MvG to build greenhouses and expand fruit & vegetable production in Zeze, greatly improving the local diet.
  • MvG has instituted a permanent tree-planting programme, in which it involves local schools to increase the next generation’s awareness of the need for environmental conservation. Reducing deforestation also features prominently in its farmer training programmes.
  • Since electricity arrived at Zeze 18 months ago, MvG has invested in crop processing machinery to reduce the amount of food that goes to waste.
  • It has also been working with Penn State University in the US on developing a high-tech system for monitoring crop disease (and providing advice on what to do about it) via farmers’ mobile phones.

So what is needed to make this happen? Things have already improved since MvG acquired a pick-up van in 2020 which he makes available to farmers to distribute agricultural inputs and take crop surpluses to local markets. Zeze, a village of 10,000 people, still has only no private cars and approx. 70 motorcycles, so transport is always a problem, both in terms of its cost and lack of availability when needed.

Benedicto’s plan is to transform Zeze into a trading centre for the surrounding district, with food storage facilities, a cold store and a marketplace that will encourage traders from elsewhere in Kigoma Region to come to Zeze on a regular basis. He wants to make the next generation of farmers more IT-conscious so that they are not afraid to go online to learn about the best agricultural practices and find new marketing opportunities for their crops. And he wants to see more interaction between Zeze and nearby large towns, particularly Kigoma, to encourage more flow of people and ideas between them.

What we do

Ten years on MVG has various projects carrying out Benedicto’s vision – from empowering women through microfinance schemes, community honey projects, school gardens, climate education and training on sustainable agricultural practices, planting trees to take climate action and restore our land, entrepreneurship training, to installing water pumps in schools and communities!

You can find out more about our work in these areas on our pages (and keep up to date on our News page!).

Benedicto is a local representative of the Tanzania Development Trust (TDT), and as, such MVG works closely with the TDT on various projects including getting access to clean and safe water and our tree planting project (you can purchase trees for us to plant from the shop on the TDT website!).