I started my company right after graduating university with my three friends (now partners). We established a software company that deals in web development, graphics designs and information system management here in Tanzania. We were able to generate our own capital from our parents and by participating in seed grant competition, which helped us to open an office in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, and started operations. The idea to start came after observing the way small entrepreneurs struggle in different aspects: example keeping their records and advertising their products to the market. So we decided to create simple and user friendly digital solutions dedicated for these small business owners in Tanzania. The first solution launched is Swahili Mart (swahilimart.co.tz), which connects buyers and sellers only locally made products in Tanzania.
What were the biggest initial hurdles to building your business and how did you overcome them?
The biggest challenges I faced is running capital before breaking even. To overcome this challenge as a company we decided to start providing other service which can contribute to our revenues and also applying different seed grant competitions like Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship Competition which we won this year. This helped us to have some money which ensured delivery of software solutions we are developing for small entrepreneurs in Tanzania which are not yet generating enough revenues.
What books are you currently reading? And your recommendation for entrepreneurs to read?
Currently, I am reading Influence by Robert Cialdini which is about the psychology of persuasion and How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie. For entrepreneurs in Tanzania I recommend Tanzania Industrialization Journey 2016-2056 written by Ali Mufuruki, and I Can, I Must, I Will by Dr. Reginald Mengi one of the successful business man in Tanzania.
Did you ever deal with contention from your family and friends concerning your entrepreneurial pursuits? How did you handle it? What would you do differently in hindsight?
I had 100% support from my family at the beginning when I started but after sometime with different challenges I was pressured to find employment but I could not do that as I have reached so far now to quit, so I continued my entrepreneurship journey and after sometime I won back their trust.
What would you say was the single most influential factor in your business success?
I'd say resilience and getting things done. So far in my entrepreneurship journey I have passed through many difficulties in developing platforms like Swahili Mart for advertising products of local entrepreneurs in Tanzania, we started with few vendors, were other local entrepreneurs didn't believe in this platform but overtime the popularity increase and people start to see the potential.
What do you know today that you wish you would have known when you first got started as an entrepreneur?
I wish I invested more time on researching, planning and execution of our marketing strategy, which proved costly overtime. In the beginning we invested more time in developing solutions without understanding more what the market wants.
What advice would you give to an upcoming entrepreneur locally and internationally?
For the upcoming entrepreneurs I advice them to work hard and smart on what they love. If you don't love what you are working on you put yourself in a position of failure!!