HER name might not ring a bell to many, especially when one dives into the world of Human Resources, but Deborah Mavura is making her mark silently.
For some social media lovers, they might have come across beautiful designs created by the 32 year old entrepreneur, which come in the form of handmade slippers.
Through social media, Ms Mavura is creating waves with her original designs, which cater for a wide range of her clientele.
“These platforms enable us to post different photos, videos, and more, depending on the social media network.
It is a great way of selling your brand to a wider range of customers, where it also gives you an opportunity of building your own brand,” she says happily.
A brief history of this innovative social media entrepreneur reveals that she was born and raised in Dar es Salam, where she attended her primary school education at Forodhani School which is now known as St. Joseph, before being taken to St. Anthony’s Secondary School (Mbagala), for her ‘O’ Level studies, and later joined Zanaki Girls High School for her ‘A’ Level studies.
Ms Mavura studied Conflict Resolution and Peace Studies as an undergraduate and a Master’s student at the Kampala International University (KIU), Dar es Salaam branch and University of Dar es Salaam respectively, and also attended a two year Marketing Diploma course at the College of Business Education (CBE).
Ms Mavura who is a Human Resource Officer in one of the stock brokerage firms in the city, believes that a person putting all his/her eggs in one basket is taking uncalculated risks in life.
She says that as an entrepreneur who chose to specialize in indoor slippers production, she also faces several challenges, including understanding the needs of her special clients, giving an example of diabetic patients who are not allowed to walk outside.
“Dealing in my kind of work forces you to understand different types of feet and conditions, because there are also people who live in cold areas and have to wear warm slippers while indoors, while there are those people who are dealing with the challenge of cracked feet,” she says.
A Human Resource Officer at Arch Financial and Investment Advisory, a brokerage firm in Dar es Salaam, she says that she chose to become an entrepreneur after growing a strong passion of owning something of her own.
“Apart from being born an artist, I have been raised in a family where women make it in life, with or without the presence of a man as a husband.
Starting from my mother to my sisters after my dad died in 1997 when I was in Standard Four at Forodhani, where my mom who worked as a nurse took care of all of us single handedly,” she says.
She says that for those who studied at Forodhani Primary School in those days, they will remember a particular subject called “sayansi kimu (nowadays known as vocational study) which helped pupils to become industrious and become self-employed after school.
She says that apart from making handmade slippers, she also prints T-Shirts, which she also posts in her social media account for clients to purchase.
Ms Mavura remembers with nostalgia how she entered the world of social media buying and selling, and pays great tribute to YouTube tutorials, which was her first step towards this venture.
“A friend of mine gave me a Kitenge (African print) as a gift, and I decided to post it on my Whatsapp account, and I was shocked that within a short period of time people loved it and I sold it without any hassle,” she says.
She admits that this made her realize that there was great potential in the business, which prompted her to purchase a sewing machine so that she could make her own designs.
The entrepreneur says she uses social media accounts (WhatsAapp and Instagram) to reach different varieties of customers, quoting a saying that a satisfied customer is a good marketing strategy.
As her business took off, she received encouragement from family and friends and started attending different exhibitions at the Dar es Salaam Trade Fair, where she made good profit selling her products.
Currently apart from selling her wares through the social media, she also receives orders from supermarkets, especially in Arusha, Dodoma, Mwanza, Morogoro and Njombe regions.
Every venture, they say, has challenges, and on her part she says several things are holding her back towards realizing her dreams, which includes lack of proper production space and shortage of sewing machines.
“When I decided to focus on this particular business, I knew exactly what I wanted, and what I wanted from everyone. My market is very well defined, and that helps me to be more focused, but I must expand, that is why by all means I have to deal with these challenges,” she says stubbornly.
However she is optimistic that she will grow in boundaries, because right now she has managed to penetrate the Kenyan market, where she supplies her products to several supermarkets.
Being a jack of all trades, Ms Mavura also helps the community through psychology and counseling, considering that she has a strong background in this area.
She advices her fellow women who are not engaged in any income generating activity to wake up and take a step towards self-employment, because time waits for no one.
“There will never be the right time for you to start something, start it now or never, because it is better to start where you are, with the little that you have,” she says.
She concludes by urging Tanzanians to support local industries by buying local products, because this will help to boost the morale of local entrepreneurs.