How It Started

The First Trip 2005

In August of 2005, I was on a plane headed for Tanzania with my family and 40 college kids. And although I knew where we were going, nothing could have prepared me for the journey ahead.

The Young Life organization orchestrated the trip in an effort to complete a local work project. Throughout our time there, I was able to interact with the beautiful people of Tanzania. During those conversations, they shared their daily experiences, hardships, joys and everything in between. Relationships formed, love grew and my outlook on life changed forever.

The First Trip
A calling

A calling 2006

Within the year following that first trip, the love that had formed in my heart for the people of Tanzania only continued to abound. They had touched my life so profoundly, and I knew there had to be a way that we could give back to them. So, for years, I, along with others, returned to Tanzania as often as we could to continually encourage leaders and explore how to further the fruitful reach of Young Life in Africa.

A Future Realized

A Future Realized 2015

And though we continued to visit Tanzania annually, much time had passed, and I longed to do more for the people that I loved so dearly. This led to yet another trip to East Africa where I, along with my good friend Paul Hineman, visited Deo Kyara, who is a founding member of Young Life and resides in Africa, to talk about how God could use us to further help the Tanzanians and East Africa as a whole. Through many discussions, we learned that the best way we could help them was to provide entrepreneurship skills and resources.

What We’ve Learned

Building Momentum

Building Momentum 2017

The conference has been held every year since and only continues to bear fruit for the people of East Africa. In 2017, the first African Start Entrepreneurship Conference in Kampala, Uganda, was held for over 120 college grads there.

In stride, 2018 was the first conference led by East African business leaders, one in Dar Es Salaam and one in the city of Arusha. This was a significant moment of overwhelming joy as it demonstrated the effectiveness of empowering local leaders to take ownership of their potential and opportunity.


New Beginnings 2016

New Beginnings

Since its humble beginnings, African Start has had one vision — to see the people of East Africa prosper every sphere of life.

To turn this vision into a reality, African Start held the first Entrepreneurship Conference in the spring of 2016. It was open to more than 200 college graduates from Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania. The conference was designed to gather East African students who showed ambition and creativity and allow them to present their ideas with the goal of gaining capital to start a business in their community.

Stronger Together 2019

Stronger Together

Luckily, our team has grown from a handful of stirred souls just wanting to help an army of individuals who believe that entrepreneurship could change the prosperity of Africa forever. We rejoice that our vision is stronger than ever, and our hope for the future of Africa is vibrant.

2020 and Beyond

As a new year begins, many have asked what African Start is doing to continue to serve the people of East Africa and how they can get involved.

One of the most impactful ways we are able to see the nation of Africa move toward sustainable prosperity is through the annual African Start Entrepreneurship Conference. It is here that unique ideas are met with the resources and support needed to nurture concepts into a thriving business that benefits the entire community.

As you learn more about the beautiful people of East Africa and the hope they have through business, you may feel the same love and passion as we do to see them prosper. We are overwhelmed with gratitude by your compassion and want to make it easy for you to experience the same joy that we have by witnessing the impact that is possible. So, to find out how you can take this journey with us to support East African entrepreneurs — financially or other — click “Invest in East Africa” below.

Most importantly, we thank you for your interest in the story and mission of African Start. To say we can’t do this alone is an understatement. We are merely stewards of this vision, but it’s the generous hearts and souls of people like you that will change lives in East Africa now and forever.

– Chris Durkin