Sunday, November 27, 2011
Zainab founded Zara Tours in 1987 in Moshi. Her company started offering climbs to Mount Meru and Mount Kilimanjaro, as well as safaris to the national parks. Today, Zara is one of the largest Kilimanjaro outfitter and one of the largest safari operators. It also operates two hotels and three tented camps, as well as offering trips to Zanzibar.
I am a female entrepreneur and I run today, proudly, one of the biggest tourism companies in my country-Zara Tanzanian Adventures. It took a lot of will and courage to reach the point where I am today because women in Tanzania or in any other developing country, face great challenges when creating companies and and becoming entrepreneurs. An African belief is women are supposed to stay at home and take care of children. At times, society even does not expect you contribute to public life or to benefit the economy.
So, when I pursued my dream of becoming an entrepreneur I had to overcome many barriers. One of them was access to credit. Women usually do not ask for loans and it was hard to convince the loan officer to grant me a loan to start my business. To get licenses from the government was even harder than usual task precisely because I am a woman. Public servants were reluctant to give me the licenses I needed to start my own business. However, it was perseverance and resilience that kept me going when facing these barriers.
My determination grew in the early 1980’s while working for the Tanzanian National Airline Carrier, “Air Tanzania”, in the department of reservation and sales. Working with ATC created a dream; I wanted to open my own Travel Agency, and to move up from a clerical position, which is often the place where women stay, not advancing to professional or leadership positions. In the spring of 1984, I used my savings and “Zara International Travel Agency” was registered and opened in Moshi, in the Kilimanjaro region of Tanzania. The dream began.