Successful Businesswoman Inspires Entrepreneurs in Tanzania

By [Charles Arthur], United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO)

With support from the UNIDO trade sector development programme in Tanzania, Fatma Riyami, Managing Director of NatureRipe Kilimanjaro and East African Businesswoman of the Year, grew her business rapidly, achieving an annual turnover of half a million US dollars and has gone on to inspire other women entrepreneurs in Tanzania

Fatma Riyami has been named East African Businesswoman of the Year 2017 at the annual All Africa Business Leaders Award ceremony to honour business leaders who have made a considerable impact on their industry and community.

The award ceremony, staged in partnership with CNBC Africa, salutes business game changers for their commitment to excellence, and for developing best practices and innovative strategies.

Fatma Riyami started growing mangoes as a hobby in 1992. Eight years later, she registered her company and went into business full-time, exporting mangoes, mainly to the Middle East.

However, things did turn out as well as she hoped. Producing high-quality mangoes for export presented many challenges. For example, the lack of cooling facilities and unreliable transport were big problems.

In 2008, she stopped exporting and diversified her business to process products for the local market. The company grew rapidly, achieving an annual turnover of half a million US dollars by 2013.

Today, Riyami is the managing director of NatureRipe Kilimanjaro, an agribusiness company that grows and processes mangoes, roasts nuts and produces a range of processed foods, from sauces to candy bars and jams.

She attributes much of her growing success to the knowledge gained and skills acquired through a United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) trade sector development programme in Tanzania.

Together with two other food-processing companies, NatureRipe Kilimanjaro took part in a series of training and practical workshops that helped participants to master their skills in marketing, sales and merchandising, as well as collecting and analysing market information.

The pilot group also participated in numerous business-to-business meetings, trade fairs and tasting events, helping them to develop contacts with key partners in the tourism sector, including the Tanzanian Hotel Association and the Tanzanian Chef Association, as well as the final customers of the processed products: hotels and supermarkets.

Riyami said, “With UNIDO’s technical support in this valuable programme, our sales have significantly raised – both in food-retailing and tourism. Our sales personnel are much more self-confident and dedicated to selling our special artisan products to new clients in retail and tourism.”

NatureRipe Kilimanjaro continues to apply the new skills in the marketing of their products and has recently hired a professional photographer and graphic designer to improve promotional materials – one of the recommendations from the programme. “Given the knowledge acquired from this programme’s manifold trainings, our performance now is much more professional than it had been earlier,” said Riyami.

To help other women entrepreneurs to formalize and access markets for their products, Riyami shares her vast experience by way of the Tanzania Women Chamber of Commerce. This umbrella organization unites businesswomen’s associations, companies and individuals to advocate, lobby and network for the well-being of their businesses and the prosperity of women entrepreneurs. Established in 2006, current membership stands at six associations and 20 companies; altogether there are about 2,000 members.

Editor’s Note:

This article first appeared on and is reproduced with permission of the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO).

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