[Interview] Jennifer Richard Shigoli, Founder, Malkia Investments, Tanzania
Jennifer Richard Shigoli is founder of Malkia Investments Company Limited, as well as Tanzania Institute of Manufacturing (TIM). Professionally a Diplomat and Lawyer, she’s a firm believer in education, innovation and hard work.
Her interview with Africa Business Communities:
Would you please introduce Malkia Investments?
MALKIA INVESTMENTS Ltd. (MIL) is a limited liability company in Tanzania licensed to carry on the business of production, distribution and sale of cleaning products and hair care products. Currently it deals in liquid detergents. MIL provides a range of liquid detergents branded as “Bubbly”. The goal of the company is to grow the brand into one of the most recognized and respected brands in the country.
Through the provision of quality and effective products, a great marketing strategy, superior personal customer attention and reasonable prices, MIL is well positioned to capitalize on this incredible opportunity.
In which industries does MIL operate and who are your clients?
Our company operates under the manufacturing industry and hygiene & sanitation. We have our clients divided into two segments: commercial, which includes cleaning companies, hospitals, schools, hotels and retail stores, and residential: which is basically individuals buying our products for their homes. They obtain them in retail stores or Bubbly shops, where our products only are sold.
Why did you start MIL?
I am apt in business and entrepreneurship, for starters. Second I wanted to have the best cleaning solutions of high quality and is affordable to every household. That aside, it pleases me to be part of the solution to youth empowerment and fight against unemployment in Tanzania. That made me look deep in the situation and I chose the manufacturing industry. I was drawn to this sector because it has many employment opportunities from production, administration and distribution. When the company started we were only two and now we are a team of 29 people and growing.
What other companies/organizations/activities have you founded?
I am the founder of CHOO SALAMA CAMPAIGN. It’s a campaign on hygiene and sanitation in public primary schools here in Tanzania. We teach the students about water, hygiene and sanitation, proper ways to clean, use and maintain their toilets and their environment at large and hand washing skills. We go further to search for donors and partners who can help renovate and build safe toilets in schools where they don’t have any, and we have found them and we have been able to do some renovations and installations where necessary.
I also founded Tanzania Institute of Manufacturing, where we offer trainings on entrepreneurship, manufacturing, value addition and agro-processing. Our big challenge is to create skilled labor and to increase the growth of the small and medium scale industry in our country.
What can be done by entrepreneurs and government to stimulate the business environment in Tanzania?
The best thing the government here can do is to start and support different programs that provide education about business and entrepreneurship. As for the entrepreneurs, they should dedicate their time and effort as well into learning and acquiring the right knowledge in whatever they do, because most entrepreneurs go into business simply because they have capital but not the right information and knowledge. They do not do their homework, I think. This explains the large number of collapsed businesses every year.
Furthermore, the government should review and implement the private sector policy and reduce bureaucracy especially to those starting businesses. With the right policies guiding and protecting the private sector, we will surely have the best business environment in Tanzania.
Do you think women entrepreneurs typically have a harder time accessing loans through traditional bank channels?
Yes, it is really difficult for most women entrepreneurs here. Women tend to own and run small businesses, and most traditional banks have requirements that the small business owner cannot provide. On the other hand, a lot of women entrepreneurs are not well informed and well educated especially on how to do business and present a proposal to banks. When businesses do not appear sustainable, banks see the risk in putting forward their money, be it toward a male or female entrepreneur. Bottom line, more education about business is needed if women entrepreneurs and banks are to have a mutually beneficial relationship.
What can you say about the targets, plans and ambitions of MIL in 2016?
To continue to grow and expand as a company and as a brand. We have already upgraded our services to our clients and they are very content. We are also increasing our distribution channels and points and we are projecting by the end of this year our products will be available in every region of Tanzania.
How would you assess Tanzania’s economic performance in 2015?
In 2015, Tanzania has increasingly faced challenges in achieving its desired level of fiscal deficit. While the government managed to keep its fiscal deficit at GDP 3.8% for 2014/15, this has come at the expense of accumulation of arrears to suppliers, raising public debt (currently 38% of GDP), and reduction in development expenditures and transfers to local governments. Tax performance is diminishing with tax revenue not growing fast enough to catch up with the speed of expenditure growth. For last year the economic performance was underachieved. However this year we have a new government that has already done some initiatives especially in tax revenues and many other sectors and we are looking forward to major changes in our economy performance.
Which African countries do you predict will perform best in 2016?
Tanzania, Rwanda and Nigeria, due to strong leaderships against corruption and looking towards the provision of welfare to citizens. For Nigeria the 2016 financial plan is projected to be expansive (15% larger than last year’s budget) and intends to allocate 30% of the budget to capital expenditure. The government plans to finance the expected budget gap by increasing non-oil revenues and improving tax collection.
Rwanda and Tanzania more likely because they have lower exposure to the commodity slowdown, and will continue to benefit from large scale western infrastructure, but also prices of agricultural commodities fell much more moderately, such as tea and coffee even gained, with adverse weather expected this year that favors agriculture.