Thursday, November 7, 2013


I first heard, Tanzanian,  Zainab Ansell speak at the launch of a joint UN Women and UN World Tourism Organisation report that examined the role of gender in sustainable tourism. Zainab was an engaging presence as she took the audience through the growth of her enterprise – ZARA Tanzanian Adventures (a tour operator specialising in trips ranging from safaris to Kilimanjaro expeditions) – and how their forward thinking gender policies both benefitted the community and made sound business sense.  I wanted to find out more about the story of this indomitable woman whose business now employs close to one thousand people. Over a series of emails, I asked her about the beginnings of ZARA.

She told me that, when she had been young, her aspirations were “to hopefully get married and have a family” but “in life one thing leads to another”.  “After finishing high school I worked in a leather factory selling ladies bags - not so stimulating - however it was a job and I could contribute support for my mother and father. I met a customer who told me about a job opportunity at the Kilimanjaro airport, working as a secretary for a construction company building a hanger.
 I managed to land the job.” Read more

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