Tanzanian small business women entrepreneurs face challenges

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DAR ES SALAAM, Tanzania

For Zuwena Seif, turning her seedy hair salon in the Tanzanian port city of Dar es Salaam into a bigger high street business was a difficult task.

“Without enough capital, that was my biggest challenge,” she told Anadolu Agency.

The 44-year-old mother of four repeatedly applied for a bank loan, but her requests were turned down as she had no fixed assets to act as collateral.

Sub-Saharan Africa has one of the highest rates of entrepreneurship in the world, with about 42% of the non-agricultural labor force classified as self-employed or employer.

However, analysts say most entrepreneurs are unable to expand beyond small-scale subsistence operations, hampering their contribution to poverty reduction and shared prosperity.

Although Seif had already found a niche for her salon that helped her attract a loyal clientele, the lack of a solid business plan and preparation made her business less profitable.

“I couldn’t employ qualified hairdressers because I couldn’t afford to pay them regularly,” she explained.

After a long battle for a loan, Seif finally gave up and closed the salon.

She has since moved into the consumer goods sector, which she says is more profitable.

She is one of many female entrepreneurs struggling to make a living in a low-profit industry.

Although owning a business in the lucrative beauty industry is a safe bet, many women entrepreneurs are unable to seize this opportunity.

“Running a hair salon pays off depending on the location and the facilities you have to attract customers,” Seif said.

Obstacles to growth

As elsewhere in Africa, Tanzanian entrepreneurs often face barriers to accessing desperately needed funds or to feeling respected as business owners with a strong support system.

“Working as an entrepreneur is not easy. Women in particular face many challenges, including cash flow issues and poor marketing skills,” said Jane Magigita, Founder and Executive Director of Equality for Growth, a local charity that supports women in the informal sector. .

Most women entrepreneurs face a serious lack of business knowledge, she told Anadolu Agency, adding that “starting your own business can be a difficult process that requires patience and know-how. “.

Besides the typical pitfalls of entrepreneurship, the women who spoke to Anadolu Agency mentioned several challenges, including obtaining finance and fear of failure.

Magdalena Kimboi, a market trader in the town, urged the Tanzanian government to create an enabling environment for small traders. “My business can only grow if I get support from the government. They must empower women to be more independent,” she told Anadolu Agency.

Supplement family income

In the scorching heat of Tegeta, a bustling district of Dar es Salaam, Elizabeth Kasala is busy cooking maize dishes, commonly known as ugali, as well as fish and vegetable stew.

“Doing something is better than doing nothing because I get something to feed my children,” she told Anadolu Agency.

Kasala, engulfed in smoke, grabs a handful of cornmeal from a bag and sprinkles it with boiling water to a thick consistency. “I cook ugali because the flour is cheap. If I had more money, I would also cook rice and meat,” she said.

Kasala works seven hours a day and earns about 35,000 Tanzanian shillings (about $15) to supplement her family’s income.

“When I told my husband to start this business he was skeptical, but now he is very happy,” she said.

However, unlike other licensed traders who display their wares in wooden stalls, Kasala cooks outdoors and says she is often harassed by the town’s municipality.

“We are still playing hide and seek with the city administration, who frequently seize our utensils,” she complains.

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