Top lessons from women business gurus of Tanzania

Saturday May 18 2019


By Jamilah Khaji

In a country like Tanzania where gender equity is still not fully attained, there are some women who have soared higher.

Thanks to these powerful ladies, that they have faced struggles, challenges and made their way to the top list of business-women in Tanzania.

This has not only helped the society economically but also has done a lot in terms of exposing the potential a woman holds.

According to Association of Tanzania Employers (ATE), only 35 per cent of women in the country hold senior leadership positions, which is either seating on board or holding high positions.

International Labour Organisation reports that work related gender gaps still exist. In a recent report titled ‘A Quantum leap for gender equality: For a better future of work for all’, women are still underrepresented at the top, a situation that has changed very little in the last 30 years, globally.

Fewer than one third of managers are women, although they are likely to be better educated than their male counterparts.


The report shows generally that education is not the main reason for lower employment rates and lower pay of women, but rather that women do not receive the same dividends for education as men.

The need or time for women to venture in their own businesses or to soar into senior roles is now.

We not only need their abilities but we also need their skills, experiences more than ever in the very competitive world of business.

Today, Woman Magazine honours and pays tributes to women of all ages who have and aspire to take that ‘big’ risk to launch something of their own or to get into the leadership role. Recently, Woman Magazine asked a few high achievers to share with us the lessons they have learned as leaders of thriving businesses. Here are their comments.

Catherine Kimaryo

Lesson: Know your worth

The Founder and Chief Executive of NCL, a boutique executive coaching and strategic advisory firm, Ms Kimaryo says in order to succeed in the corporate world, a woman should know her worth. “When people know their worth they will be capable of negotiating about their salary and status in the company or organisation without any fear,” she advises.

Ms Kimaryo began working as a trainer at 21. “My salary was Sh200,000 but I knew my worth and I worked hard to achieve my goals,” Ms Kimaryo tells.

Ms Kimaryo has worked with both national and international companies and organisations such as International Finance Corporation (IFC) for over 8 years and United Nations (UN) to mention few.

She says she believed in herself since the beginning that she can do anything when she put her mind to it.

Another lesson that Ms Kimaryo shares is ‘preparation’. “From the moment you go for a job interview, you have to prepare yourself, know everything about the company you have applied, their values, their vision and mission, prepare yourself for the questions and be ready to answer them,” she advises.

You also need to be prepared mentally and physically to be patient and while working hard to achieve your goals, she says, it takes time and support to reach the goal but preparation for that journey is very important.

“As an employee, you have to know your value to the company and the company should know your value too. Your values go hand in hand with good negotiation and believing in yourself,” she added.

Ms Kimaryo who is passionate about excellence, growth and transformation says to be an influential woman in the competitive commerce world, one needs to build their self-esteem.

This is done by getting rid of anything that makes you feel inferior, read books and listening to stories that build your confidence, to be yourself and stop pleasing every one because in the process of pleasing everyone, one may lose themselves. Lastly, one has to be good at influencing others to do positive things.

Furaha Samalu

Lesson: Demonstrate integrity

Ms Samalu, the Head of Brand and Communication at Eco Bank Tanzania is an experienced marketing specialist and has been in the industry for over 16 years. For 49-year-old Ms Samalu, having a high degree of integrity at work is the hallmark of a successful woman.

“Being honest and consistent in what you do is very important. People around you will measure your level of tolerance, honesty and truthfulness, so be attentive at work, deliver on time and be flexible and ready to face challenges with great patience,” she advises.

Ms Samalu always believed in herself and her aptitude; she neither considered herself less important nor that she can do less because she is a woman. She believed and still does, the only difference between a man and woman is gender and nothing more than that.

“I work hard, I deliver on time, I am creative and I am capable of working with people for other people, I don’t need any favour, I don’t give unnecessary excuses just because I am a woman, I make sure whenever I work with someone I live a mark for them to remember me in a positive way,” she tells.

Ms Samalu also believes in delivering and achieving goals. It’s no lie that there were prejudices she has faced being a woman in the corporate world, but she says that that was not a reason for her to stop being and thriving being a great at her work.

Angela Kasamala

Lesson: Focus

The Director of People and Culture at Tanzania Cigarette Company (TCC-JTI), Ms Kasamala has been in the managerial level for the past 13 years. For her, being a successful woman in the corporate world, one needs to focus and believe.

39-year-old Ms Kasamala says, “Be consistent and focused on what you want to do, deliver on time and help others to reach their goals too.”

Ms Kasamala has been in the Human Resource practice for the longest of time and one of the problems that she has witnessed women face during the interviews is of lack of preparation. “My advice to the women and young girls who want to be successfully in their working place is that they need to read a lot and be creative, read books and articles about your profession, be consistent and stay focused,” she added.

Grace Makani

Lesson: First impression is everything

Founder and Managing Director of Grace Inc, Ms Makani says the first thing a woman has to consider being in the corporate world is how to appear in your work-station. 53-year-old Ms Makani believes that first impression is everything.

“The first three seconds are enough to judge a person, so you have to always be alert on your sense of style and your conduct,” Ms Makani believes in the power of dressing.

A woman can create a first impression by always being on time, avoiding excuses, being professional by the way you dress and the way to talk, prepare yourself on the topic which you are going to discuss and if it is an interview, be aware of the company values and mission.

“Read a lot about the topic or the matter you are going to talk about, make sure there is no gap or loophole that will give them the impression that you can’t do anything for them,” she added.

Ms Makani says there are colours that are not fit for professionals. Dress professional in muted colours to avoid being shunned just because of the colour of your clothes. And these things though unexpressed, speak volumes about your personality.

“There are only three types of dressing styles that is allowed in the office, which are business attire, formal business attire and casual business attire and these differ by the culture of the work-place,” Ms Makani says.

Stella Kasambala

Lesson: Present passion

Ms Kasambala has been in the Human Resource department for 19 years now and currently Heads the HR department at Unilever Tea Tanzania.

She says consistency is everything, it opens new doors and you will not have to hustle to get what you want. When you work hard, people will recognise you and they will want to work with you.

“I am that person who doesn’t entertain excuses, I work hard with a pure heart and patiently wait for the result, this has helped me grow and reach where I wanted to be,” Ms Kasambala leaves an important lesson.