Women have an uncanny desire to fix things. Call them natural born fixers. They would look at a challenge whatever the face it has put on and start devising ways to solve it. For themselves, for others, for their communities, they would go to lengths to create value. In some cases, it would be providing what people need or in other cases what people want. As a woman entrepreneur you need to leverage your skills, networks, experiences and expertise to provide that value. From this backdrop, Ndoto Hub in coordination with WaterAid Tanzania and the High Commission of Canada to Tanzania organized a mentorship workshop between Canadian and Tanzania Women Entrepreneurs to hold a dialogue and share lessons on how to succeed in the face of adversities.
The Canadian side was represented by a group of accomplished women entrepreneurs from Canada who were visiting WaterAid Tanzania projects that they support but were also happy to share their experiences from a Global perspective with young women entrepreneurs from Tanzanian through such a dialogue. How to grow your business while growing as a person? How to create wealth while building a legacy beyond you? Thinking out loud whether women can have it all. This is just a tip of the iceberg, the discussion was lively, lovely and insightful. We could not wait to share with you our best 5 lessons derived from the case studies that guided the discussion.
1. Customer is King
Try to recall the last time you were a customer. Which we would like to believe must have been in the last 24 hours. Did you feel like royalty? Do you think the owner knows how you felt? Assuming it was a good service :) Establishing feedback channels from you to your customers and back is essential to any business in the 21st Century. Keeping track of your customers’ engagement and experience and enabling them to respond to you keeps you informed to provide better value. Try not to think of a suggestion box. How about a surprise discount at checkout for regular client? Thank us later.
2. Work-life balance?
Greetings from the Republic of Multitasking. Most women entrepreneurs are on the verge of jumping off the cliff from trying to meet everyone's expectations, professionally, personally and socially. You may be pleased to know balance is all about flexibility. Translation, you can adjust things to fit your time. While on flexibility, plan ahead but do not fret when the plan does not work out. Prioritize and say 'No' often without feeling guilty when you need to. Interestingly, societal or family influences can negatively push women into dedicating themselves better towards their businesses. Women can have it all BUT not at the same time. What is needed is balance.
3. Get Yourself A Team
From micro managers to mega managers in the room, we had to find a common ground to make this work. They all agreed on hiring well, I mean, you need people who know what they are doing. Define the role of each team member according to their skills. Train and coach the team regularly. Align team on other members’ responsibilities. Establish a culture where there is effective communication between you and the team and between them. Share your vision, let them adapt it and nurture individuality. This would not be an A Team if they are not up for some cool bonuses. Somebody suggested a shopping trip to Dubai...did we mention the workshop was full of women?
4. Money Talks
Ultimately, an entrepreneur is creating value to make money. You can imagine how alert everyone was when discussing this case study. These are things you have probably heard before but repetition is emphasis on their importance; Good customer service will make retain and attract new customers = growth Always innovate to improve quality and to stay relevant. We can mention a few examples here...remember that mobile phone company? Yes. You have to be innovative. Offer value for money by understanding your customers, competition and the context you are operating in.
5. That Line between your Personal and Company Brand
Trying hard to erase a photo of that powerful CEO staggering out of a club shared on Facebook over the weekend from your memory? Why? Is it because you cannot separate her personal life to her professional? Is it disturbing? Does it affect your working relationship? Do you think men and women have the same issues when it comes to personal and professional branding? The line appears to be very thin. Popular opinion will tell you that what happens in personal hours is private and not pertinent to the affairs of the business. Unfortunately, the opposite is true especially in a community with sensitive political,
religious, cultural or social norms. It is important to be aware. Also take into consideration the industry you are working in. As a CEO, you should establish company values with the team and ensure you are all communicating those values.
However, the workshop was accompanied by various sessions including the exhibition session where by Ndoto Hub Members showcased their products.
We were honored to have The High Commissioner of Canada to Tanzania, Hon Ian Myles who graced the workshop for the women entrepreneurs affirming Canada's approach to women empowerment echoing the recent Canada's Feminist International Assistance Policy. 'Canada envisions a world where women and girls are valued and empowered, have control over their own lives, fully participate as decision makers in their homes and societies, and contribute to and benefit from development and prosperity. They can be powerful agents for change,' Hon. Ian Myles.
Ndoto Hub is one among the programs that are being supported by The High Commission of Canada to empower young women entrepreneurs.