Anna Njavike 39, is a mechanical engineer who has gone beyond her call to engage in a multimillion business empire. She also mentors young women on how to be successful engineers.
She is also Malkia wa Nguvu award winner in retail business category. She wasn’t aware of the competition, but thanks to women development WhatsApp group comprising of entrepreneurs from different fields to exchange ideas that she learnt of the same.
“Through the WhatsApp group they seized the opportunity to select successful women entrepreneurs to participate in the competition. Competitors were selected from, agriculture, retails and sales science and technology categories.” says Anna.
Anna, a mechanical engineer who is the owner of Power General Company Limited, which deals in generator business, notes that her name featured in the science and technology category, expounding that an experience in selling generators was an added advantage.
“After they compiled our names then formed another group of judges who scaled down names of competitors but my name remained on the list.” she notes
“Due to the stiff competition, every member had to inform their relatives and friends to vote”.
“After nomination I was excited to learn the Clouds Radio and TV had announced me as one of the successful women set to be awarded.” Anna says after a short time they phoned her again and asked her questions about her business and where she could be found.
“They then located me and came to the site to interview me about my background I told them I was employed for seven years as a sales manager at a generator company and they were also able to inspect my business and witness different machines I have. I was grouped in the retail business women category instead of the science and technology group where I featured in the first place.
After a few days later she was called to their office in the city where they arrived early with other competitors and had a face-to-face interview on Clouds television and radio station.
“After the interview I was invited to participate in the Malkia wa Nguvu competition but I wasn’t aware of being one of the winners in the retail sales category.” says Anna.
The ecstatic Anna commends the role played by Clouds TV in unlocking her hidden potential, adding that her company now deals in making doors and many other products and plans are afoot to grab more business opportunities.
“I am in a position to prove before the multitude that women are capable of doing much greater things and record significant strides,” she says.
Anna was born in Mtwara Region in 1979. Her father was a civil servant. She started her primary education in Mtwara and was later on selected to join Ruvu Secondary School but her family was later on transferred to Njombe Region where she also went to complete her secondary education.
After the national examination she was chosen to study at Arusha Technical School. In the same college she pursued a diploma in electrical engineering . In 2008 she was selected to join Dar es Salaam Institute of Technology, pursuing Bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering.
Her history with machines
Anna who is a professional in mechanical engineering says she was once employed as a sales person in an engineering company that deals in supplying generators.
“After working for those seven good years I founded my own company dubbed: Power General Company Limited which was registered in February, 2015. The company deals in supplying generators to places that face acute power outages alongside serving them with spare parts. I also deal in servicing air conditioners,” says Anna.
How she started her business
Talking about how she started her business, Anna says after working in other peoples companies for seven years, she preferred to start her own business because she had enough experience about what it takes to run a company.
“I had no capital and I was hoping and believing the NSSF money would help me but my dreams were almost shattered when more than 6million was deducted for the maternity leave,” she says.
Anna says she did not give up but instead used the little cash she had to purchase computers and other appliances thank goodness customers kept on flowing to buy her merchandise.
“I remember my first customer I told him to give me advance and honestly this customer accepted and I supplied a generator, that was my starting point. I can now handle a million tender starting from 200 or 500 million,” she says.
Anna says in the first place it was a challenges for customers to believe it was a woman’s work but as time went by people started to trust her.
I now make a good number of contracts from across the country, she says. I now boast of having enough capital to venture into much bigger projects in the foreseeable future, says Anna adding
“Apart from that I have group which I mentor. So inside the group there is a special class of teaching professionals with sale skills to push their dreams,”
The professional engineer notes that cash woes is to blame for the pitfalls in her business, noting that she sometimes she might fail to purchase materials over cash constraints.
However, Anna says she was not dealing with employers who trusted her in the first place, noting that after some of her seniors complained about theft within the management it is when she started losing customers, who were afraid of purchasing stolen spare parts from her.
“Before I used to work with customers who believed and trusted my work but my crooked employees dishearten me, sometimes. I receive complaints from customers claiming to have fake spare parts fixed in their machines. Mind you fake products hardly last long.,” she laments.
Anna notes that she also faces challenges in accessing loans from financial institutions that hardly bank on her collaterals including car license, houses etc.
“We need support to be supported in a way that will see daring women like me get soft loans. For example, sometimes you can find yourself grabbing a tender worth Sh5million but due to lack of enough capital I fail to venture into the deal,” she says.
Anna says after five years she plans to open different branches upcountry, expounding that the first one will be in Dodoma where she has her own technicians who will be in a position to land the advertised tenders. Mechanical Engineering.
She says she plans to have her own warehouse because in the future instead of banking on fellow entrepreneurs whose conditions seem difficult to comply with.
I am I used to getting tenders starting from Sh2 million up to Sh200mill, thanks to my partners who made me access materials from outside the country”. She says.
Advice to women
She is of the view that women should be resilient when their businesses fail to give rosy picture as they anticipated and not fearing to take risk when embarking on entrepreneurship.
She says some women who opt to be lazy are set to lose along the way, explaining that successful people are used to wake up early in the morning to plan for the day. “Woman should know that being steadfast must be the way to go. They should not let anyone bog down their brilliant plans. Entrepreneurship cannot be without the ups and downs.” she says.
Anna says when she start her business most customers used to believe that operating machines was a special job for men, noting, however, that as time went by, members of the community kept on trusting what she does.
Advice to the youth
“My advice to the youth is that they should have a daring spirit because entrepreneurship goes by taking risk. One may start with enough capital but in the end loses all along the way what is needed is resilience and keep the focus.” she says.
Business is a risk and many people afraid to take risk. People should not be afraid to have plan and start with the amount you have in your hand,” she says.
If you are already have an education, start training others.
A part from that my advice to the government they should look again about Value Added Tax because business people were slapped with different levies, starting pay at the municipal level and other areas, including paying for the license, noting that when one comes to look for profit one finds themselves in the receiving end, with nothing to put on the table.
The government should continue to support informal sector as there are slim chances for white collar jobs.
The entrepreneur-cum- engineer says it is time youth learned to create own jobs and shy away from waiting for government to create job opportunities.
“Only brain and skills can give youth jobs if they are creative and daring. Blaming the system for not setting grounds for jobs should be a thing of the past on youth’s minds.” she says.
Anna says now she has proper planning in investing in women in the society as she now her office a training center where women come for entrepreneurial skills and advice on business startups.
Ann says her day starts around 5 in the morning by thanking God, noting that she always have diary in which she writes what she plans to do in a day.
“After waking up early in the morning, I take care of my two children who are now in nursery school. After that I start rotating between my offices in Kibaha and Kinondoni till 4.00PM where I also conduct my entrepreneurship class for mentorship sessions,”she says.
She says during the evening she returns home making sure everything is fine but around 8.00PM she normally have online sessions with entrepreneurs.
On Sunday I seize the opportunity to prepare yoghurt for I keep a dairy cow at home.
She tsays her husband has been supportive, especially in the first place when she told him that she wanted to resign and start her own business.
Anna says her husband works and stays in Dodoma, noting that in case a tender gets advertised in the region, he connects her up.