17 January 2013

Tanzania: When Women Defy Odds to Succeed in Business

IT is really encouraging to have women around us braving the scorching sun and other harsh weather conditions in order to realise their dreams.

Yes, it is heartening, as they also help to reverse the ancient belief that women are always there to be spoon-fed. One of such courageous women is none other than Ms Eunice Manamba Alute.

Born in Sukuma land, where the majority considers it to be one of the bushiest areas where no talented woman could come from, Ms Alute against all odds, stands tall to prove before the world that everyone could do everything no matter what.

She saw the sun for the first time in 1973, in one of the villages in Bariadi District, Shinyanga Region and is now based in the busiest city in the country, Dar es Salaam.

Like many other women, Eunice attained her education from various schools. She completed her primary education at Kambarage Primary School in Bariadi in 1988, before joining Buruba Secondary School where she completed her Ordinary Levels in 1992.

In 1993, she joined Butimba Teachers Training College where she finished in 1995. In 1996, Ms Eunice was employed as a teacher at Mayolwa Primary School in Misungwi Mwanza where she worked for one year, thereafter; she got married to Mr William Ntogwa in 1997. After marriage, she right away moved to Dar es Salaam where she started a new life with her husband.

Moving to Dar es Salaam became a watershed for Eunice's dreams, she met one of the famous women in the interior decoration business, who inspired and changed her life. "This woman really inspired me, as she took me to where she was carrying out her decoration activities. I then started to gradually learn how decoration was done and later I was at it," she said.

She added: "I closely followed up how mama was decorating venues for various events believing that by seeing I would learn without difficulties, later, I joined and became one of her helpers." Consequently, Eunice later on fully engaged herself into the decoration business where she bought all required materials including artificial flowers pins and many others.

Financial constraints became one of the biggest challenges that hampered Eunice's efforts towards becoming a successful decorator. However, she managed to purchase only basic things vital when carrying out decoration. "I did not have enough capital, so the only thing I could buy were basic items; whenever I got paid for my job I added other items including chairs and other materials," she explained.

With determination, promptness and creativeness to catch up with the ever changing life styles and clients' demands, Eunice decided to change the line of business from interior deco to catering in 2009. Eunice through the Savings and Credits Cooperatives Society (SACCOS) acquired 2m/- which she used as initial investment in her catering business.

Being multi-talented saw more doors continue to open for her. "It was like this, one day in church someone who had been assigned to be the MC did not show up, so I took over the task to my surprise every person appreciated, for I did well, at this point I believed that I could also do better as an MC," she explained. She believed that commitment and passion were keys necessary for any person who wanted to do better in any of the activities; this is what drove her dreams.

She also opened two hair salons. Eunice testified that the salons and other investments made her live luxurious as she managed to take her children to a good school. As they say education is key to many things, Eunice decided to go back to school where in 2010 she was conferred with a diploma in social protection.

With a vision of becoming multipurpose and skilful in many academic fields, she is at the meantime pursuing a degree in Procurement at College of Business Education (CBE) in Dar es Salaam. Today, Eunice is now famous in the city, as her phone is always busy and flooded with text messages from clients seeking her services. "Sometimes I receive calls from people I have never dealt with.

This really motivates me because it is a sign that the work I am doing is convincing and good enough to get clients from different places," she clarified. Although she has succeeded in her business, she declares that it is more difficult now because many social halls that in the past needed to employ a caterer have now employed their own people to do the job. "Sometimes I have to accept a tender that pays less just because I need the money," she said.

Eunice also appreciated her husband over his unlimited support, "Being proud of my achievement without acknowledging my husband's support will be an unpardonable sin; he has been in the frontline supporting what whatever I initiated," she noted. She reached where she is now because she believed in herself, she is ambitious and for that she has always sought to be the best in whatever she has chosen to do.

Eunice is hoping to expand her business and become a popular businesswoman. She is hopeful that in the near future, she will become a member of parliament. "I want to be the voice of those poor women especially elders who are killed over witchcraft allegations," says Eunice. With determination, Eunice has proved that anything is possible.

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