Tayeb Noorbhai

Co-founder, Totohealth Tanzania & Silverleaf Academy

I’m a Tanzanian development professional with a decade of experience driving impact within the social business sector. My niche has been established in starting and scaling solutions to development in Tanzania. I understand that for transformation to be seen, cross-sectoral impact needs to be spurred and sustained, within a range of key sectors and levels from grassroots implementers to private and public partners. This belief has shaped my last 10 years of action in the development sector. 

It was in my final year at Oxford, when I focused my thesis on biofuels, that I developed an interest in energy poverty. Having started my development career with SNV, helping shape, establish and implement a national-level biogas programme,  I went on to start up the largest biogas enterprise in East Africa called SimGas. With SNV, I advised national programs across East Africa, Burkina Faso and Senegal. In Tanzania, the national programme is now in Phase II, with a strong private-sector approach, and government-led, so households can access biogas systems in a market-led modality. At SimGas we grew the team to 65 people, across 3 countries, and established formal cooperation with government. Together we also set up the largest biogas mass-production injection-moulding factory in SSA and are developing a commercial and viable sanitation solution for schools. 

Following this, I havee co-founded and established a range of social businesses within Tanzania that are each looking to create significant change in their sector of focus, from a waste management and recycling service, to a last mile distribution network of life-improving products through a network of women sales agents, an impact training and consultancy business, the first co-working space within Northern Tanzania and an affordable primary education chain (Silverleaf Academy). Currently, I'm starting up Totohealth in Tanzania to reduce maternal, newborn and child mortality, and the early identification of disabilities for children.

In addition to starting up businesses myself, I’m passionate about contributing towards capacity building in the social enterprise space. I’ve been doing this by being involved in the design and selection process in various major social incubators and accelerators in the region, and extending ongoing support and mentorship of their entrepreneurs and leaders. I actively work to build dialogue and collaboration within East Africa and Tanzania rooted in entrepreneurship and leadership development. For example, through the establishment and coordination of working groups / round table meetings to share priority areas, clarify capacity of each stakeholder group and establish working partnerships that allow for natural synergies. Being an Acumen East Africa Fellow has also enabled me to continue these efforts by engaging with a network of existing thought leaders and development practitioners already within this space. 

At QEH, I enjoyed the multi and inter-disciplinary approach; the rigorous essays that demand critical analysis of leaders you admire without question (eg Nyerere); my small and intimate class that delved deep into rural peasantry dynamics in Ghana; and the strong skills added through foundation courses on stats, economics, politics and history. Most of all, it’s the experience of being immersed in a development-driven atmosphere, surrounded by game-changers who want to have an impact. It has pushed me to strive for impact not only at household and community level, but to engage across various value chains and sectors, leveraging my impact as a development practitioner and social entrepreneur.

Email: tayebnoorbhai@gmail.com

Most of all, it’s the experience of being immersed in a development-driven atmosphere, surrounded by game-changers who want to have an impact.