Broadcasted between the March 12 and May 23 2011, Ruka Juu na Fema TV Show was a reality television show to encourage young people in Tanzania to develop entrepreneurial skills. The debut season of Ruka Juu ran for 11 weeks, following six young Tanzanian micro-entrepreneurs as their skills were put to the test with a series of challenges. The show is part of Femina’s economic empowerment agenda focusing on entrepreneurship, business skills, and financial literacy, and was funded by Sir Ronald Grierson, AON and The Financial Sector Deepening Trust (FSDT).
Ruka Juu is a Swahili expression for 'jump up' and refers to Femina's economic empowerment agenda. Ruka Juu has become Femina’s motto to encourage youth to 'Jump Up and build their lives!'
In this first season of Ruka Juu, viewers watched 6 young Tanzanian entrepreneurs (3 men and 3 women) compete for a grand prize of five million Tanzanian Shillings (approx $3000) to put toward their business. The six contestants were selected from different semi-urban settings in Tanzania. They have been running their own micro-businesses for at least a year prior to selection. The show was aired weekly on three different TV channels: ITV, TBC1, and Clouds TV.
The contestants were given 8 different challenges such as difficult customers, sourcing money for investment, and putting together a marketing plan. The contestants also had to demonstrate their knowledge about HIV/AIDS and sexual and reproductive health. These were recorded and televised.
Results of the competition were determined by scores from a panel of expert judges weighing 60%, and audience votes via SMS weighing 40%. No contestants were eliminated until the final episode, which was broadcast live on May 21. The winner of the Ruka Juu na Fema TV Show competition was Idrissa Mannah, a barbershop owner from Kibaha, Pwani Region.
Aside from voting every week, the audience was encouraged to engage with Ruka Juu by answering "The question of the week", which was a question designed to provoke feedback on the theme of the particular episode. Three winners were announced every week and awarded with prizes such as the Ruka Juu Kibubu (piggy bank) and entrepreneur backpacks filled with essential business tools, developed for the show.
According to Femina, the use of reality television for the Ruka Juu na Fema TV was designed to:
- inspire young people to be proactive and take charge of their lives;
- contribute to a change of mindset and attitude among young people around entrepreneurship as a viable, income generating opportunity;
- create an opportunity for young people to enhance their knowledge and understanding of entrepreneurship, finance, and how to evolve their livelihood activities;
- provide concrete mentorship and guidance related to business and finance;
- provide and promote key strategies on how to take a business from one level to the next; and
- provide information and links to resources and services related to business and finance.
According to Femina, they are the largest local, multimedia civil society organisation working with youth, communities, and partners throughout Tanzania. Edutainment forms the main approach, whereby Femina entertains and educates audiences through real-life stories, testimonials and docudrama. Femina conducts strategic communication through clear messaging and a participatory production process, which gives VOICE to young people; resulting in a more relevant end product which effectively transmits knowledge, shifts attitudes, and creates behavioural change, triggering social action. This messaging is brought directly to the audience through reoccurring magazines, TV, radio, social media, sms as well as community mobilisation activities which, taken together, mutually reinforce key messages and backstop peer education activities in the field. Nearly 10 million Tanzanians engage with Femina's products and activities on a regular basis.
Femina mainstreams issues of rights and gender through three core themes: Sexual and Reproductive Health (Chezasalama), Economic Empowerment (Ruka Juu) and Citizen Engagement (Sema, Tenda!) which represent elements of a more holistic strategy aimed at reducing risky sexual behavior and promoting positive life skills.
According to a post project assessment report, Ruka Juu has been both inspirational and educative, but the results are clearly gendered and vary depending on educational circumstances. While more female students had watched the shows than male students, the out of school girls who participated in the survey had not watched the show at all, despite having been incentivized to do so. And while male students have been able to transfer the information from the show to specific entrepreneurial knowledge, the report notes a greater inspirational effect on women. The assessment noted that the use of role models and the power of an example is an effective way to convey messages around entrepreneurship and finance.
A second season of the Ruka Juu TV Show is in the making and will feature the theme of agriculture. By focusing on Young Farmers in Business, who want to improve productivity and cash flow, Femina aims to motivate young people to engage in agricultural self-employment as a sustainable source of income.
Femina HIP, Sir Ronald Grierson, The Financial Sector Deepening Trust(FSDT).