Women entrepreneurship has, until a couple of years ago, been alien to Tanzanian society, particularly among the coastal community, most of who had been brought up to believe that their place was the kitchen, coupled with taking care of families.
Many people believe that the concept emanated mainly from religious beliefs which, even now, stipulate that it is the husband’s duty to provide for the family by whatever means.
In fact even today, in certain communities, women are only permitted to engage in petty businesses of whatever nature after obtaining permission from their husbands.
In such cases, certain conditions are set so that such women do not go beyond certain limits in the course of their engagement in the ventures concerned.
But a couple of years ago, women have changed mindset, proving wrong the fallacy that their only place is the kitchen.
With the help of Tanga Business Information Centre (TABIC), a few hundreds of women previously operating informally, have undergone training in various sectors, including food processing, handicrafts and tailoring.
Among the groups operated by women entrepreneurs under TABIC are Depros Enterprises, Kwadota (both Food processors), Ukiri Art (Handicraft), Hamu Women Group (clothes design and batic making), Kiwamaboma Women Group (mushroom processing).
Others are Ami Brothers Company (Dairy], Huruma Environmental Group (Environmental Cleaning), Lugano Enterprises (Poultry Keeping and Livestock Keeping).
“Women are already overburdened with what they are presently doing. We give them technology that increases productivity and reduce the amount of labour”, says Aurelia Mtui, TABIC Vice Chairperson.
“In effect, women are major producers of wealth in many societies, hence the necessity to update their skills in whatever they are doing”, says Aurelia.
TABIC, a registered non-governmental organization was established in 2005.
In collaboration with Tanga City Council (TCC), the entity’s goal was to improve growth and performance of small and medium enterprises (SME), and hence contribute to poverty reduction and generate economic growth.
The centre’s specific objective is to provide business information and marketing opportunities to stakeholders as well as provide training to micro and medium business enterprises sector.
Its other roles are research and availing reports on availability as markets for sale of member products.
TABIC also gives advice to those willing to start business by directing them on the type of business which will ultimately enable them obtain profits.
Ali Shekuwe, the centre’s chairman said recently that presently, TABIC has 350 enterpreneural groups with a total of 4500 heads.
He said so far, over 250 entrepreneurs under the umbrella of TABIC, have obtained entrepreneurial skills through training sponsored by various institutions and organizations.
Among the institutions are Small Industries Development Organization (SIDO), Great Lakes Consortium for International Training and Development (GLC) of USA, Tanzania Industries Research Development Organization (TIRDO), Tanzania Chamber of Commerce Industries and Agriculture (TCCIA), University of Dar es Salaam and International Labour Organization (ILO).
Shekuwe revealed that the Tanga City Council (TCC) had allocated an unspecified land to city business entrepreneurs at Mwahako, three kilometres from Tanga city on the Tanga – Pangani road.
‘The city’s intention to move them to Mwahako is to formalize their businesses; hence enable them operate in a more conducive ‘environment – one which does not pollute the atmosphere.’
The entrepreneurs will operate in a form of business clusters with different sectors grouped separately.
A cluster is a group of entrepreneurs doing similar work.
Presently, said Shekuwe, the area has been demarcated into ten clusters to accommodate, among others, carpentry, garage, plumbing, food processing etc.
“Tanga City Council is presently looking into for funds with which to develop the area in an acceptable standard”, said the business executive.
Shekuwe said he believes that the move would enable small and medium entrepreneurs operate in a more conducive environment and avoid frequent lashes with city authority who occasionally urge them to keep road pavements lcear for use by pedestrians.
“Infrastructure, a challenge to any business investment, will have to be provided to enable the entrepreneurs operate in a formal manner before they are ultimately ordered to move to the new business premises.
According to plans on the drawing board, said Shekuwe, the centre will arrange for access to loans to its members over 1,000 of them, to enable them expand their businesses.
“We have established a Savings and Credit Cooperative Society (SACCOS) which has so far 200 members to enable disbursement of loans to stakeholders who cannot, under normal circumstances access loans from commercial banks whose conditions are normally prohibitive”.
‘Operating on cluster form is the proper way of doing business because under cluster, big supplies can easily satisfy big orders”.
Informal business is rapidly gaining momentum in the city with most road pavements full of different items for sale.
At the Tangamano grounds in the city, shoppers flock to the market which operates three times a week – Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.
With each passing market day, the number of shoppers increases, completely blocking the pavement from Street No.9 to Street No.4, seriously exposing pedestrians and shoppers to accident by passing vehicles and motor cycles.
However, the flourishing informal business at Tangamano has come under fire from the Tanga Small Business Association (CHABIWATA).
CHABIWATA Chairman, Salim Kirungi says his members income has considerably been affected by the ongoing informal operations of informal traders doing business at Tangamano.
“Tangamano is a strategic point for business because it is right in the middle of the city centre. How do you expect us to compete with such people, a group that operates without paying tax and other levies, considering that we provide the same goods”, querried Abraham Elangwa, the association’s coordinator.