SBL’s journey in investing and accelerating progress in women

Serengeti Breweries Limited (SBL) has made impactful interventions in the past one and a half years to address our challenge of having a low female-to-male employee ratio. With the majority of employees in the company belonging to the supply (brewing, logistics, packaging, engineering) and sales sections of the business, which are traditionally male-dominated fields, the challenge called for disruptive interventions.

Diversity and inclusion are core performance metrics and are called out in our business performance ambitions. Our company has six must-dos, that is, areas of focus designed to help us realise our ambition of being the highest-performing and most respected and trusted consumer goods company in the country. One of the six must-dos is to champion inclusion and diversity in all its forms, including gender diversity. Therefore, the challenge had to be addressed.

In July 2020, SBL set a target of achieving a 32:68 ratio of female to male employees by June 2024 where currently we are sitting at 32% ratio. They have so far exceeded our target by developing robust plans which we had set to achieve.

The target was reinforced by a recruitment policy that promotes the hiring of women. To achieve the target of 32:68 by 2024, 35% of new hires must be women. Recruiting managers were encouraged to: (i) ensure that there are women applicants in the shortlist of interviewees; (ii) prefer female candidates when the level of competency is at par with a male candidate; and (iii) replace a woman mover or leaver with a woman.

The Managing Director of SBL, Obinna Anyalebechi inspecting new equipments led by some women staff who run the brewery in Moshi.

SBL has highlighted a framework to support women employees—to grow their careers and set them up for top management positions. Through their talent assessment processes, SBL has identified several female employees who are high performers and have the potential to grow.

The identified women are matched with mentors or coaches, some provided with training opportunities, and some granted opportunities to lead cross-functional teams as an addition to their core duties.

Women are also offered the opportunity to work for other sister companies outside Tanzania as part of their development. By way of example, the current Marketing and Innovations Director, Ms Anitha Msangi was seconded to Uganda Breweries Limited as Head of Customer Marketing. This was to offer her the development required to take up a higher position upon her return to SBL.

Other women employees seconded to sister businesses are Ms. Alice Kilembe, who was seconded as head of planning at Kenya Breweries, and Ms. Wankyo Marando, who was seconded to Uganda Breweries as head of innovation.

Here are a few testaments to SBL’s efforts at developing female employees over the year:

  1. Anna Gasembe was appointed as Zonal Sales Manager for Serengeti Breweries Ltd., effective April, 2023. She joined SBL in 2010 as a Sales Representative and rose through various roles to become Zonal Sales Manager for SBL in April 2023. Anna was instrumental in growing her region in terms of sales volume performance, which led her to achieve several awards including most valuable employee award and brilliant execution award In addition to her functional responsibilities.
  2.  Natalia Kimacha was appointed as Manufacturing Excellence Manager for Serengeti Breweries, effective February 1, 2022. Natalia joined the business in 2011 as a laboratory technician and rose through the ranks to packaging manager in February 2016. Natalia has been instrumental in driving continuous improvement in packaging performance through improved line efficiencies and substantial reductions in packaging material waste, while at the same time building the capability of her front-line team.
  3. Rolinda Samson was appointed Packaging Manager for Moshi Brewery, effective February 2022. She joined SBL in 2009 as a Brewing Operator and rose through the ranks to Brewing manager in May 2015. Rolinda has been in forefront in driving significant improvements in brewing efficiencies, reducing extract loss, and improving the site beer Codex performance to be the top site in Africa.
  4. Rispa Hatibu was appointed as Communications and Sustainability Manager for SBL effective July 2022. Rispa Joined SBL in 2020 as the Executive Assistant to the MD and was promoted to Communication and Sustainability Manager July 2022. Rispa has been driving strategic leadership and support in the design, implementation, and monitoring of sustainability programs that not only enrich the communities where SBL operates but also enhance the company’s corporate reputation. The Community Impact she leads has seen the business winning a presidential award on Water investment from private sectors in the country.

5. SBL has in place other vital policies to support the development of women, including:

(i) Six months of maternity leave (double the legally provided time) to enable women employees to take sufficient time off after giving birth. The company maternity leave policy is also an indicator to women employees that the company supports all dimensions of their lives and development.

(ii) Flexi-working policy that allows employees to start the working day at either 7, 8, or 9 am and end at either 4,5 or 6pm, depending on the start time. The flexible working policy also allows employees whose roles allow them to work from home for up to 40% of their working time. These two policies are especially favourable to women. It means that they do not necessarily have to choose between being employed or attending to their other responsibilities.

Further, SBL has an employee resource group led by women employees, of which all women employees are members, called “Spirited Women Network.”. The objectives of Spirited Women Network are:

(i) To develop female employees

(ii) To raise issues within the company that impact women and so create the conditions for women to contribute to the company to their full potential, and

(iii) To contribute to the wider community. Spirited Women network, fully funded by the company, organizes activities aimed at enhancing the soft skills of its members. These activities include group mentoring, financial literacy sessions, wellness programs, corporate social responsibility initiatives, and feedback sessions for management.

Moreover, in July 2021, SBL’s local production of spirits at its Moshi plant moved from 100% importation. The spirits production facility is entirely staffed by women, with fifteen women overseeing all site operations. Their roles range from security guards and forklift operators to machine operators and various other responsibilities essential for smooth operations.

The second program is the STEM apprentice program. The yearlong program was rolled out in March 2021 with an all-women cohort. The STEM program is designed to develop women graduates with a science background in technical and leadership skills to enable them to take up managerial positions in the future. To develop these skills, the STEM apprentices are rotated through the different sections of the supply function and are provided with mentors and coaches to encourage them to set a clear vision and path towards achieving their potential.

All the interventions described above have moved the female-to-male employee ratio from 17:83 in 2020 to 32:68 ration in the space of four years. The 15 percent increase is a significant movement, and it puts the company on achieving its Inclusion and Diversity agenda.

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