Women keeping business alive through social media

Women keeping business alive through social media

Date: June 29, 2020
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By Jenifer Gilla,

Dar es Salaam, 29 June: Ashura Athumani is one of few women entrepreneurs in Dar es Salaam who have started benefiting from the effective use of social media marketing to scale up their businesses.

A mother of two is engaging in selling wedding gowns, and owning a beauty salon business in Gongolamboto on the outskirts of Dar es Salaam.

She started with a very small capital of 1m/-, but now her capital has grown to more than 10m/-. This has been attributed to effective use of social media platforms such as instagram and facebook to market her products.

Unlike other entrepreneurs, whose businesses have been affected by lockdowns during this time of Covid-19, a 31-year-old woman has not been shaken by the pandemic.

“I had no doubt that lockdowns will affect my business, because I do my business differently, my phone is my second office,” says Athumani with confidence.

The secret behind Ashura’s self-reliance is the use of social media to promote her business. She has been doing online business for the past five years.

Athumani started her online business in 2014, where she was selling wedding gowns, when one of her customers introduced the online idea.

“The day I posted the dress I got 200 likes and 5 orders, I did not believe my eyes,” she says, noting that the feedback she got encouraged her to open a business account on Facebook and instagram where she promotes her products.

The business has enabled her to open a saloon and a shop for kitchen appliances. All these products are sold online, with orders coming from all over the country.

She gets between 10 and 15 orders, two times more before the outbreak of Covid-19. The use of online platforms enables her to earn between 150,000/- and 200,000/- per day for all her three businesses.

Athumani is not the only woman to harvest the fruits of her creativity as Grace Maiko is also among the women in the city who are benefiting from the use of digital platforms to boost businesses.

Maiko, who sells secondhand handbags at Mwenge market, has managed to sustain her customers who were getting lost because of the outbreak of the novel Coronavirus.

“I used to sit in my office all day without any customers, and then I thought why not take pictures and post to customers,” she said.

Through online business Grace sells between 5 and 10 handbags per day, where she gets between 50,000/- and 100,000/- depending on the quality of the products.

The increase in the number of women who use digital platforms has been caused by the development of the social media industry in the country, whereby there are more people using online platforms.

Kareen Alfred, founder and managing director of the Kibaha-based AKSVIN farms who has been motivating women to invest in digital agriculture. This is through a programme known as ‘UthubutuwaMwanamke’, which encourages women to venture into the use of social media to scale up their businesses. The programme provides a room for women to share knowledge on the good use of the internet.

“One of the issues that I address women in seminars is the use of digital platforms to promote their business because this has been my winning gear in my farm business,” says Kareen who grows fruits and vegetables. Alfred has been in the business since 2016 and she has been using digital platforms to market her products.

The use of digital media platforms, according to Alfred, has helped her avoid the use of middlemen who offer low prices to farmers.

She however advises women to use social media positively to boost their businesses rather than using them as luxury.

Zaituni Njovu is the manager and founder of Zaina Foundation, which creates digital security awareness to women in the quest to empower them to adapt to emerging threats as it pertains to digital privacy and online data security.

She says it is so encouraging seeing women use digital platforms as a source of income.

“This means women are awake and have their rights to the internet effectively, and we are still encouraging them to use these rights,” she says, encouraging women to use social media for economic gains. “We are doing our best to convince talented women entrepreneurs to use social networks to share their ideas and motivate others.”

“There are large numbers of women who have access to internet but very few who use them positively like to promote their business and promoting human rights,” says Ibrahim Salim, Director of Project, Programs and Communications at Action for Rural Women Empowerment (ARWE)

He says, “There a need to educate women on the good use of the internet, especially social media because as it is a powerful source of income.”

Mwanaija Hamisi, who sells second hand shoes, at Mwenge Market says she would like to use social media for her business but she cannot afford to buy a smart phone.

“You know you need to have Sh. 150,000 to buy a good quality smartphone, something that I cannot afford because I have family to take care of, I have two kids that I pay school fees, said Hamisi.

Hamisi’s income between 70000/- and 20000/- per week since Corona virus pandemic.

Today, the world boasts of 4.5 billion internet users, 23 million of whom are Tanzanians.

Based on the Economist Intelligence Unit country-disaggregated data, men remain 21 percent more likely to be online than women, rising to 52 percent in the world’s least developed countries (LDCs).

The GSMA 2019 Report reveals that high prices of mobile telephones prevent the majority of women from mobile ownership hence denies them the access to the internet in Tanzania.

In Tanzania 77 percent of women own mobile phones but only 17 percent only use the internet.

Access and use of technology for women is enshrined in Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 5 which advocates that countries should enhance the use of enabling technology in particular information and communications technology to promote the empowerment of women.

UN Secretary-General, António Guterres, once quoted as suggesting: “There is a limited gain in gender equality and women’s rights made over the decades are in danger of being rolled back due to the COVID-19 pandemic and urge governments to put women and girls at the centre of their recovery efforts.”

Jenifer Gilla, is a journalist from Tanzania. This story is part of the Gender Links News Service Gender and COVID 19 news series.


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