Maida Waziri, business mogul: Building empires

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Maida Waziri is the current president of Voice of Women Entrepreneurs Tanzania, chair of Muungano Women a savings and credit co-operative organisation and managing director of her two companies — Ibra Contractors Ltd and Ibra Enterprises.

Waziri got into business in 1990, selling second-hand clothes. She is one of Tanzania’s most feted businesswomen having been awarded best female contractor of the year five years in a row (2011-2015) by then-president Jakaya Kikwete.

Waziri credits her success to her mother’s struggle with poverty.

“My mother suffered a lot because of poverty, so I told myself from when I was young that I must succeed, get rich and pull other women up. That has pushed me to where I am today,” she says.

Waziri is involved with Women Advancing Africa, an initiative of the Graca Machel Trust that was inaugurated this year.

The Trust recently sponsored her for a 10 months international entrepreneurs course.

She enrolled in a seamstress course at the YMCA college in 1992, and in eight years she had trained and employed 15 other seamstresses and had 30 sewing machines. Meanwhile she had also diversified into the food and transport industry running a daladala (public service vehicle) and three taxis. She also ventured into dairy farming and fish farming.

She was the first woman to operate a motor boat that brought in fish from Mafia island in Zanzibar for sale in Dar es Salaam. Her advice to women entrepreneurs is: “They say in entrepreneurship there are three things; skills, opportunities and reward. The first two have serious challenges but I encourage women to be brave. As an entrepreneur you have to have three eyes.”