Accra, Ghana//-Fatma Mabrouk Khamis, a young Tanzanian businesswoman based in Zanzibar is gearing up to explore tourism investment opportunities in Africa, particularly in countries with strong economies.
To this end, Madam Khamis was recently in Accra, Ghana to explore tourism in the West African country.
When African Eye Report caught up with her at one of the plush hotels in Accra, she said: “My interest in Ghana started during my gold exploration years when the country was ranked the second leading producer of gold in Africa”. It is currently Africa’s largest producer of that commodity.
Madam Khamis had wanted to visit the country to come learn about what made it so successful and how advanced small-scale miners were compared to those in Tanzania but never got to travel here.
“Ghana is a unique country in many ways. It is projected to have the fastest growing economy in the world and it was also amongst the most visited countries in 2019. I found this very intriguing and wanted to see what it is about Ghana that has it doing so well”.
Whilst in Ghana, she also met and linked up with similar organizations back home to additionally discover ways they can form partnerships.
Having been active in the tourism industry for over 20 years, Madam Khamis who is also the Managing Director of K-Consultancy, a leading hospitality and project management company based in Zanzibar-Tanzania, plans to grow into other African countries.
Her firm offers advice to the hospitality sector and project management from inception, implementation, monitoring, evaluation and closure.
“We have been in operation since 2017 and are currently at a stage where we would like to broaden our market”, she said during the interview.
Exploring investment opportunities in Ghana
Being an entrepreneur in spirit who always keeps an eye out for investment opportunities in the countries she travels, Madam Khamis has definitely explored investment opportunities in Ghana but not only for herself but also for the members of Zanzibar Women Chamber of Commerce (ZWCC), where she serves as Chairwoman.
“In addition to investment opportunities, I will be keeping an eye out on how we can promote trade and advance investments in both countries through the Chambers of Commerce in Zanzibar.
I am also interested in identifying and perhaps creating learning exchange between women-owned and other businesses in both countries”.
She added: “Tourism is big in Tanzania and particularly Zanzibar where I am based. I wanted to gain an understanding of how much Ghanaians are aware of Tanzania as a destination.
In the wake of the COVID pandemic and the restrictions our source markets have (particularly Europe and the Americas), we have a need to promote regional tourism and expand our markets since our main source markets such as Europe have been highly affected”.
Her main motivation for becoming an entrepreneur at her young age. “Being a risk taker by nature led me to explore options of how I can make this happen by cultivating my interests”, Madam Khamis explained.
“And God knows I did explore! I registered my first company, K-Treasures when I started exploring for Gold in Tabora, a city in Northern Tanzania at 27 years of age.
Throughout the years I have learnt to calculate risks. I am guided by my instinct so if I stumble on an idea and if it stirs my interest, I start researching on how to turn it into a business”.
Passionate about tourism and women empowerment
Madam Khamis chose tourism as a profession for the mere reason that she enjoys meeting people and traveling to interesting places both locally and internationally.
In her words: “I did not want a profession that entailed staying in an office all day. During my employment years in tourism, I found joy in ensuring a guest’s stay is memorable from when they arrive until they left”.
As a woman in business, she is no stranger to the struggles of balancing a family life to running a business. This struggle is true to many women in Africa, particularly in patriarchal societies.
The power traditional roles between men and women have caused women to spend more time on managing their homes and raising children than on their businesses. International studies have found that national GDPs can grow significantly by promoting the growth of women owned businesses.
Other challenges like lack of business knowledge, minimal access to markets and little access to finance only add to the burden. This makes it difficult for women to manage and grow their businesses.
Ever ready to share knowledge
The affable and selfless Madam Khamis is ever ready to share her knowledge and experience with other women and empower them through business training and expanding their networks and grow their entities.
This has been made possible through the Zanzibar Women Chamber of Commerce (ZWCC) where their role is to do just that, in addition to advocating and promoting gender sensitive policies that aim to advance women-owned businesses.
For instance, she is very impressed to read a report that says that women entrepreneurs in Ghana currently stand at 46.4% and have the highest rate of women-owned businesses in the world.
That definitely makes it a country worth visiting and to learn from in regards to women empowerment as well, according to her.
Role play at ZNCC
At Zanzibar National Chamber of Commerce (ZNCC), Madam Khamis represents women owned businesses as a Board Member where crucial decisions are made for the development of the private sector in Zanzibar.
As the Chairwoman of ZWCC, it is her duty to ensure that all decisions are made to ensure an inclusive approach and not leaving women behind.
Achievements of the ZWCC
The ZWCC which was launched in August 2020 has chalked many successes within a short period.
“We have managed to successfully position ourselves as a platform that advocates for the development of women-owned businesses in Zanzibar and the Government of Zanzibar has recognized this and now engage us through Public Private Dialogues aimed at advancing the Zanzibar business community”, Madam Khamis said.
Supporting members in the face of the pandemic
The tourism industry has been badly hit by the coronavirus pandemic globally and Zanzibar is no different.
That industry is amongst the major contributing sectors in Zanzibar and has a trickle effect on other sectors such as transportation and agriculture and many women owned businesses have been affected by this.
One of the immediate remedy to the loss of income caused by the pandemic was to increase promotion of locally made products in the East African country.
Education and experience
Madam Fatma Mabrouk Khamis is a graduate of Hotel and Tourism Management from Intercollege (currently part of University of Nicosia).
She has held senior management positions in various prestigious hotels in Tanzania, including the award-winning hotel group The Residence Zanzibar after extensive training in Cyprus, UK and Egypt.
Madam Khamis also served as the Executive Secretary for the Hotels Association of Tanzania (HAT) and the Executive Director of the Zanzibar Association of Tourism Investors (ZATI).
She was a freelance consultant for a number of organizations before setting up her own hospitality and project management consultancy firm in 2016.
In addition to being a passionate mother of one and an entrepreneur, she is active in many civil and non-profit activities. She has served as the Chairperson of the Zanzibar Association of US State Alumni from 2011 to 2017.
Madam Khamis has also been serving as the Vice Chairwoman of Small Medium Industry Development Authority (SMIDA) since 2018 under the Ministry of Trade and Industry in Zanzibar, a Board Member of ZNCC) since 2019 and is the Chairwoman of the newly formed ZWCC since August 2020.
At the global level, she represents Tanzania in the Global Entrepreneurship Network (GEN) and is the Country Lead for Global Entrepreneurship Week (GEW) Tanzania.
The Global Entrepreneurship Network operates a platform of projects and programs in 180 countries aimed at making it easier for anyone, anywhere to start and scale a business.
Madam Khamis is one of the young African entrepreneurs to watch-out for in the next few years.