Tired from the previous night of meerymaking and binging, Kulthum Maabad had her eyes fixated on the blue waters of the Indian Ocean during a blue voyage organized by her colleagues.
She was part of creative time that had sailed from Dar es Salaam to the spice island for a particular mission.
“ I was the only lady in the group and all that the team needed was this feminine oomph which i was more than willing to deliver,” she chuckles.
Upon reaching a little island with deep clear waters, Ms Maabad dipped her hands and thought it even wise to go for a small swim to refresh from the hangover knocks.
While enjoying her brief swim, Ms Maabad couldn’t help but appreciate nature’s beauty.
She confesses: The beauty of the water and scenery made me think of its creator, i thought it must have loved the waters becouse of all the beauty it consisted, becouse of how large it was, i kept thinking of the pearls, the colorful species, the cowry shels, the foods we get from it, the medicinal salty waters, just mesmerising.
As she kept appreciating such a magical experince, Ms Maabad feels she was unknowingly creating a ritual, a prayer.
“I was all alone, speaking to God, feeling my body being cleansed, energy pouring as if the sea fairy’s were literaly right there with me, i wasnt scared, i kept wishing to be granted all the beautiful things from the sea, protection , health and all its abundance”, she recalls.
Ms Maabad says she would later meet an old friend who had popped by to say bid her farewells.
According to Ms Maabad, the old friend had just lost a local election and was out of ideas on what to do next.
“Out of curiosity, i had asked him what Zanzibar is reverred for apart from the sandy white beaches and spice…he mentioned Seaweeds,” she says.
It is such a response that compelled the former BBC presenter to try a hand in Seaweed business.
Her determination of engaging in Seaweed business was even hastened during the COVID 19 Pandemic when she came across people on socila media purchasing the seaweed gel, calling it seamoss , particularly in America.
“Tanzania took a huge force on herbal treatment and as a young woman who wanted to protect my self and my community I came across this sea algae on line and little did I know that we were abundantly blessed with,”.
Since setting up her business, the mother of one daughter has todate managed to cash in more than $70,000 in just a year and a half in Zanzibar Island.
She however admits that Seaweed was not an all cosy business, with a lot of spending on shipping, paying permits, workers and of course renting cars and housing all involved.
According to Ms Maabad, Seaweed business had ectually made it easier for her to be a mother.
“I wanted to be there for my child through out all her early stages. So when I started my business it was based on my child’s routine, it followed steps within the free times I was getting after I have dealt with her first. And now as the business is kicking in I still involve my daughter in parts of the business, I really want her to learn from an early age what I do and how I do it, so I take her with me to the beach,″ she chuckles.
Being a woman, it was never an easy walk in the park for to manouvre through a male dominated field.
Nonetheless, she owes her gratitude to a great deal of men who formed part of her buyers and exporters.
Ms Maabad equally owes gratitude to Zanzibar President Hussein Ally Mwinyi through his He for Her policy and Blue Economy policy which she says augurs well with her endevour.
Despite the challenges that visit her on a daily routine which she says stems from her Iraqw background, Ms Maabad has remained firm.
“What keeps me grounded is my authenticity, the fact that I know who I am, I know what I like, I know my roots, I know my power and I know my weaknesses. no body knows me better than I know Kulthum, no body loves me more than I love my self, no body will help me better than I would help myself,” she asserts.
According to the Seaweed farmer and businesswoman, knowing oneself lent her the needed confidence to soldier on.
Ms Maabad her set her sights on becoming a self-made female Seaweed billionaire in Tanzania, determined to leave a generational wealth to her children and as well as creating jobs and opportunities to fellow Africans.
Supported by the Revolutionary Government of Zanzibar, Ms Maabad is also determined to set up two Seaweed harvesting and processing plants in Pemba Island.
“That’s where i’ll source out all of my seaweed and herbs. I want to make it easy for people to consume seaweed, so apart from exporting raw material which I already am, I will also pack them in smaller supermarket size and distribute not only in East Africa but globally, ″ she discloses.
As she puts it, her number one target remains lifting the lives of the farmers which is actually 70 plus per cent of women in Zanziabr.
“They deserve to know the real value of their commodity. It is a huge sin to exploit them while as exporters we know how much sea weed is worth globally, it is also rewarding to see how the Zanzibar governmnet os rooting for fare prices on farmers.”
Having registered her company in 2020, Ms Maabad has exported to the United States of America 19 tons of seaweed.
She has also locally sols in almost 300 kilos in the mainland.
Ms Maabad is currently making skin and hair products all based on seaweed as the mainn ingridient and she has so far created 16 products having also sent some samples to the US and the United Kingdom.
As she continues thriving in the multi-billion dollar global industry which is billed to hit $8.5 billion by 2025, Ms Maabad targets people who are invested in bettering their health.
“My target audience are people who love themselves and want to take a huge turn into a holistic lifestyle,″ she adds.