FOR Noreen Kira, the cake is really big out there and she just needs to take advantage of the digital tools and at 24, she owns a bakery. After graduating from the Dar es Salaam Institute of Technology (DIT) in 2019, she embarked on a journey of the digital transformation of the family business.
“I took this business from my mom, who owned a shop close to our home in Kiluvya, the outskirts of Dar es Salaam since 2013. In the beginning, my mom used to sell cakes and bread at home, mainly depending on neighbours and passersby to buy,” she says.
As a graduate of Electronics and Telecommunication Engineering, she started to think about how to apply her knowledge and digital skills to expand the family business, which was being done traditionally for many years. When she was in the second year at the college in 2018, she was selected by Huawei Tanzania, to attend a Corporate Social Responsibility programme of the company called ‘Seeds for the Future’.
The programme aims to help cultivate young ICT talent, ensuring that the techsavvy and change-resilient young people have the skills and mindsets needed to be competitive in the workplaces of the future.
In the 14-day sponsored trip to China, Noreen got exposure to cutting-edge technologies and received hands-on technical practice at Huawei headquarters in Shenzhen, China. The trip inspired Noreen to think creatively.
“While in China, I learnt a valuable lesson on how business is being conducted through mobile transactions. People hardly carry cash in China,” she says.
Coming back from China Noreen started to move some operations of her business online. Noreen uses social media platforms to reach her customers. She keeps updating her customers’ records so as to allow them to place orders and get prompt delivery. As a result, she sees her business gradually transforming.
“In the past, we were limited to few customers, but for now, life has changed, I am able to score potential customers digitally,” she says.
“I have now built a network of customers, some I know and I some I do not know. I can share with them pleasant photos of my products. I have also joined paid advertisements, and it helps a lot in increasing orders especially during festival seasons. Since then my business has grown so rapidly,” she says.
She does prompt cake delivery services around Dar es Salaam and Coast regions, and in some cases, she supplies beyond the two regions. She is now able to drive her life and that of her family through her business. As digital entrepreneurship is growing in Tanzania, Noreen believes that to a large extent, equipping the youths with digital skills is key to increase their competitiveness in the job market, since digital skills are usually the essential entry requirements.
“It is important for youths to place themselves advantageously in this digital era. It is time for them to get digital skillsets to be more competent in the job market or to be able to start their own businesses,” she advises. With the online business growing, Noreen plans to open another 2 shops in Dar es Salaam.
“I am so happy to see my business growing, but what makes me happier is I am also able to employ fellow young people and share my experience with them,” she says.