C. Mwase, E. Shayo, D. Rwegasira, M. Kissaka

University of Dar es Salaam (TANZANIA)
A growing number of higher learning institutions in Tanzania are engaging their students in hands-on entrepreneurship education so as to enable them to be able to create successful businesses that provide solutions to challenges in the country and across the world. An essential component of this engagement involves training the students to be able to create and deliver value. For this, the Business Model Canvas (BMC) is quickly becoming the de facto tool around which students design business models when starting and growing businesses. Globally, this popular tool is not without criticism and several alternatives to the original BMC have emerged. Furthermore, the tool was not originally created for student startups and the model was designed using data from countries whose environments are very different to that experienced by students in Tanzania. Despite these objections and limitations, and the discrepancies between the local context and that for which the tool’s creators based their design, the BMC has continued to be applied as it is without systematic attempts to measure its suitability, and thus without successfully adapting it to the local context. Given its influence, there is a need to assess the suitability of the BMC in enabling students in Tanzania to create successful businesses.

This paper will present the results of an exploratory study conducted to explore the strengths and limitations of the BMC in the context of student startups in Tanzania. The study combines a theoretical analysis, an online review, and semi-structured interviews to produce triangular results. The results of this study provide insights into the strengths and limitations of the BMC that should be taken into consideration when working with the tool.