Known for her tenacious spirit, humor, and sharp thinking, Ngasuma Kanyeka is a Dar e Salaam based entrepreneur, strategic thinker and feminist. Her company, Capacitate Consulting Ltd creates cutting edge communication solutions for institutions and governments.
Ngasuma was involved in the creation of the national communication strategy for the oil and gas sector in Tanzania in order to manage expectations of various stakeholders. She has been an integral part of the African Union Youth Volunteer Corps since its inception.
When asked which colour crayon she would be if she was added to a new crayon box her answer was RED because that describes her bold passion. Ngasuma shares her passions and entrepreneurial experiences which I hope will inspire you to harness your talents.
What is Ngasuma best known for?
I am known for my tenacious spirit, humor and sharp thinking. Also, I am an incurable sarcastic enthusiast who loves a good play on words (I have an artistic flare). I am known for being a dynamic, strategic thinker who loves a good challenge and for lighting fire under peoples’ backside to get moving. I visualize a lot of the world and I believe we are more connected than we realize.
Oh and without wanting to change it, even if I could, I am an African, a feminist, a woman (these three are not in any particular order of priority) and fundamentally a human being. A little hippy, a little nerdy and a little cool.
What is Capacitate Consulting Ltd and what prompted you to start it?
As part of my Masters’ studies, I investigated women who prevail beyond their circumstances and manage to achieve wellbeing. This was based on a psychological theory known as Salutogenesis. I was fascinated and I learnt a great deal about women who managed to navigate their existence and lead balanced, thriving lives. I met a woman who really impressed me and made me question how I had ended up with 17 years of education and I had not recognized my own power and the endless opportunities availed to me in this world. That is what prompted me to start Capacitate.
I met a woman who really impressed me and made me question how I had ended up with 17 years of education and I had not recognized my own power and the endless opportunities availed to me in this world. That is what prompted me to start Capacitate.
From a young age, I started to volunteer my skills and expertise and enthusiasm. When I was just 16, I was running environmental campaigns with the Jane Goddall Institute. Also, I was engaged in my community from teaching kids in my neighborhood during my holiday break to running awareness campaigns to empower girls.
I have always been a busy bee, refusing to see that there were challenges too great to be tackled. I have always wanted to contribute and become a doer. That is how I ended up working as a journalist, that curiosity sparks a need to voice these issues, but my analytical side wanted the numbers to back it up and so I studied for a degree in IT. Meanwhile, I was interested in human behavior which is how I ended up studying Health Promotion. It makes perfect sense to me, but it is an upheaval of confusion for people looking at my resume. I recently got a short story accepted for publication and two poems published by a UNESCO project called Badilisha. So
Meanwhile, I was interested in human behavior which is how I ended up studying Health Promotion. It makes perfect sense to me, but it is an upheaval of confusion for people looking at my resume. I recently got a short story accepted for publication and two poems published by a UNESCO project called Badilisha. So Capacitate encompasses these passions, it is the coming together of skills and expertise that my colleagues and I have garnered through the years to create cutting edge communication solutions for institutions and governments. You have to have a 360-degreee view of the world around you to create the type of solutions we do.
Tell me something about your last job, other than money, that has inspired you to keep doing what you do.
I am actually selective about projects I take, I work through referrals. Ultimately, I want to look at myself in the mirror and be satisfied. So I have turned down several, supposedly lucrative projects that did not sit well with my value system. I did not come here to do evil.
One of the recent projects I am happy about is when I led the creation of the national communication strategy for the oil and gas sector in Tanzania to manage expectations of various stakeholders. Communities, where the oil and gas extraction activities take place, believed that they would get rich overnight. This expectation management strategy will build their understanding of the sector and also create a sense of ownership for them to make deliberate steps to benefit from the sector as it develops.
I wanted to be part of changing the narrative that natural resources are a curse, it lends too much to that narrative that Africa is a dark continent. We Africans are not cursed. We are intelligent beings that can manage, make decisions and make choices once we are informed of what our options are, like everyone else in the world we want the best for ourselves.
I am also exceptionally proud of the African Union Youth Volunteer Corps program that I have been a part of since inception, there is no greater joy than to see the endless number of African youth that has grown and thrived from it. It is truly one of the greatest programs in the world, and it has fostered a greater understanding of who we are as a people and the responsibility we have to develop this continent.
There are more than 900 youth in the past eight years that have served the continent. I think that is phenomenal. We are getting to know each other, contributing to our growth, and yes world, Africans do volunteer and they do it well! In fact, perhaps even better because we understand our context and we are more invested in seeing it become what we think it can be.
Do you think the current African environment is conducive for African youth entrepreneurs?
Not particularly, there are no handouts in this continent. Good entrepreneurs see that and look past it. If everyone could do it, then it wouldn’t be entrepreneurial, would it? It is about filling the gaps and seeking opportunities where others do not necessarily see them.
It is about shelving that endless whinny attitude that we love and do so well as Africans and employing a can-do attitude. Entrepreneurship requires that you beat the odds, most importantly the limitations of your own self-belief, the system that works around you and the support you think you deserve. No one owes you anything.If everyone could do it, then it wouldn't be entrepreneurial, would it? - Ngasuma Kanyeka Click To Tweet
Having said that, the business environment is becoming increasingly competitive. 7 of the fastest growing economies in the world are on the continent. But our growth is still slower than it needs to be, our population size is growing just as fast and we need to make the mental switch that making businesses work is key. We are improving but not fast enough and not at the scale that we need to transform our economies.
How are all the things you do and your passions a representation of who you are?
I am known for immersing myself in the projects I work in. If I cannot feel passionate about your cause or campaign or challenge, I cannot fully commit and thus I won’t.
I am all in and burning with passion for creating the solutions that work or I am not bothered enough. Life is too short to half -ass anything.
What legacy would you like to bequeath to the next generation of youth in your country and continent?
To believe that we are greater than the sum of our challenges and limitations. This continent is a giant, and we carry it on our shoulders.
It’s up to us to determine whether we build the muscles to propel it further or buckle under the weight of its enormous pressure. Do you want it to conquer you or do you want to conquer it?
Who do you think would win a fight between Batman and Superman? Why?
Absolutely Superman. Bats just hang upside down and they downright scare me as gentle as they supposedly are. Do you know they carry viruses that are harmless to them but dangerous to us? They spread diseases! But that’s what we horrible human beings get for evading their habitat.
Ok, I am going to stop myself and just say, Superman because we haven’t invaded his habitat….yet. But Elon Musk and the rest of the world is coming for you.
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