Zainab Ansell: My biggest achievement is sending people to Kilimanjaro

Zainab Ansell is a Tanzanian based business magnate, investor, philanthropist, humanitarian. She started ZARA Tours in 1987, organizing African safaris and climbs to Mount. Meru and Mount. Kilimanjaro.

Today, ZARA Tours are Tanzania’s No.1 Kilimanjaro outfitter and one of the biggest safari operators. Zainab also runs a hotel chain that consists of 9 properties. 7 under the Tanzanian wild-camps umbrella and two separate hotels.

In 2009 she launched Zara Charity, giving back to marginalized communities in Tanzania and making her footprint in the global movement for sustainable tourism development.

She has also launched Zara foundation for ecosystems preservation. Advocating for land and marine biodiversity conservation with her focus being on cleaning up the Indian Ocean.

I looked at the mountain and got inspired to sell it and safaris -@Zainabansell Click To Tweet

How did you manage to create a niche for yourself in a male-dominated industry?


I worked with Air Tanzania for 8 years before launching my own business. The beginning was tough, however, I was ambitious despite the harsh reality of inequality being a woman in a male-dominated society.

Getting the licenses and registration was not easy as the industry was aggressive and male-dominated. It took me a whole year to be able to start operating.  I started with a Travel agency, selling airline tickets as a non-IATA agent.

In 1986 I got my IATA registration marking the beginning of a promising era. I sold many airlines KLM, Lufthansa to mention a few. However, within three years I started to see a decline in the business. I looked at the mountain and got inspired to sell it and safaris.

Given the fact that technology was not as advanced I relied on word of mouth to market my business. I would even go to bus stations to solicit clients. The clients I would get would often refer other clients. It is that drive to go the extra mile for my clients that earned me my reputation.

I watched the business gradually progress in 1987, 88, 89 and here we are today as the No.1 Kilimanjaro outfitter and one of the biggest safari operators in East Africa.

What is your biggest achievement? 


My biggest achievement is being able to send people to Kilimanjaro, however, in the beginning, my biggest hurdle was accommodation.  I always visualized my business as a one-stop shop. In the year 2000, I was able to become that.

I opened up my very own hotel – Springlands Hotel.  This refined my product, allowing me to give my clients their best value for money. The hotel also serves as a base for Mount Kilimanjaro trekking.  

Zara became a one-stop shop and my business became better organized. The launch of spring lands hotel led me to further venture into the hospitality industry in order to support both Mountain trekking and Safaris.  

Today Zara properties include Springlands and the award-winning Tanzania Wild Camps hotel chain that consists of 7 facilities Located across Tanzania’s most classic safari hotspots; Highview Hotel Karatu, Highview Coffee Lodge, Serengeti Wild Camp, Ngorongoro Wild Camp, Serengeti – Ikoma Wild Camp, Serengeti Safari Lodge, Serengeti Wildebeest Camp.

You’ve managed to run your businesses for over 31 years, what has been your secret so far? 


I can not pinpoint one secret, however, I could sum it up as personalized services and teamwork.  I attribute a lot of my success to my family, my spouse, my children and my staff.

At Zara, we are a family. Happy staff and happy customers are our priority.

How have you been able to adapt to the different changes within the industry and also personnel changes and still manage to succeed? 


Change is a constant factor, Tanzania is a developing country, with very high taxation rates. It has a very competitive tourism sector with thousands of operators and an unpredictable political environment that changes with every regime.  

We have seen lots of different tourism ministers, however, through it all, we have managed to survive and also because we’ve been able to give back through Zara Charity.

How did you get accustomed to the new world of using digital marketing for your business? 


It’s not been easy, however being open-minded and having the right staff has simplified the transition for me.  I get educated people in the right places and I also learn and catch up with what’s trending.

Knowing what you know today, what would you have done differently during your career?


In the beginning, I did so much. In fact, I would everything myself.  Now I wish I would have delegated more.

What is the one motivation that gets you up every morning? 


I wake up at 5:15 am every morning, say a prayer and do 5 km walk.  After, that I am ready for the day. This routine keeps me motivated and eager to start the day ready for anything “bring it on!”.

It helps me sail smoothly and well before I know it the day is over and I thank God.

Talking about motivation, why was it important that you started Zara Charity? 


Over the years I have always given back to the community, I am humbled to have been able to help a lot of people.  I started Zara Charity in order to keep track of and formalize what I am doing.

We do a lot to empower the community through the charity.  During low season we focus a lot on the charity. We provide free education to a marginalized community, give money to women with no interest, started a porters society where we teach them about health, how to prevent HIV, and how to save their money.

The organization also opened up bank accounts for them and gave them health insurance. We have a center for marginalized maasai women where we financially empower them to make bead crafts which they sell to tourists.

Also, Zara Charity trains and provides opportunities for the youth in our hospitality division. All this is in efforts to positively impact the society we operate in.

As a successful woman with many businesses, what do you do to unwind and ensure that the next day you are still up and running?

I do a lot of meditation in the evenings, I spend time with my family this helps me switch off from the day. Unwinding can be challenging but despite the challenges, every day is an interesting opportunity to make a difference.

Which social media platform is your favorite? 

My favorite social media platforms are Linkedin and Instagram. Catch me on the gram @zainbAnsell.

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SLA Accelerator Demo Day

Accelerator Demo Day

Join us on November 20 in Lagos, Nigeria for the Demo Day of our 2016 SLA Accelerator. Demo Day is a public viewing for investors, corporates senior executives and the press to view our most recent accelerator startups.

The SLA Accelerator is a 3-month program designed to identify, support and fund the next generation of Nigeria’s brightest female entrepreneurs.

The selected businesses are:

Art Splash Studio – A virtual art studio offering a social art experience through our Paint Nite painting classes hosted at different venues in Abuja.

BathKandy Co. – Creates sumptuous dessert-inspired beauty treats for women who crave the finer things.

Bubble Tii – Bringing the Bubble Tea phenomena to Africa.

DeliveryBros – Helps you save time and stress through pickup and drops from the market to your house or office.

Fresh Direct Produce and Agro-Allied Services – An eco-friendly social enterprise that produces premium organic produce through hydroponics and community action.

Keek’s – Designs tailored weight loss packages for busy women who want a plan that is both effective and simple to implement.

Koko’s Kitchen – An indigenous brand of confectionary dry mixes specially tailored to suit the taste buds and pocketbook of the quintessential person on the go.

Independent Personal Assistant (iPA) – Provides strategic virtual assistance to high-level executives across Africa. We take care of the mundane while you focus on what matters. – Solves the medical industry’s procurement problem, by providing a technology enabled distribution solution resulting in transparency and simplicity.

Shuttlers – Enables professionals to access comfortable and efficient transportation to and from work using seat matching technology.

SLA Accelerator is in partnership with the Work in Progress! Alliance and Guaranty Trust Bank

The Work in Progress! Alliance is focused on unlocking the economic potential of young women and men in Egypt, Nigeria and Somalia. The project aims to enable them to generate sustainable and living incomes – by finding regular employment or starting enterprises. Alliance partners include Oxfam, VC4Africa and Butterfly Works

Guaranty Trust Bank is recognized as one of the most profitable and well managed financial institutions in Africa for providing quality service, ethics, professionalism, integrity, innovation and internationally accepted corporate governance standards.

SLA Accelerator is also one of 16 global incubators and accelerators selected as a Village Capital Community

VilCap Communities enables anyone, anywhere to use peer-selected investment to support entrepreneurs within their communities. In 2016, each VilCap Community will be running its own entrepreneur training program and investing in two ventures using Village Capital’s peer selection methodology.

This is how you get and keep investors attention over email

Entrepreneurs should always be on the lookout for investors. With Google at your fingertips, finding the contact details of a prospective investor has never been easier. That said, simply reaching out to them is not enough as there are several others like you, seeking their attention.

Follow the tips below, and you’ll soon be on your to snagging and keeping an investor.

The prep

1. Hun, are you even ready?

Before reaching out to investors, ascertain if you require external funding as meeting investors too early may undervalue your company.

Also, you would need a business plan to demonstrate the viability and profitability of your business idea.

Remember, investors are no fairy godmothers. They’re putting their money in to get money out.

2. Make a list of who you want to meet

 Finding an investor goes beyond them cutting you a cheque. You need to research potential investors, how much money they typically invest in new businesses, the kind of ventures they’ve supported in the past, and the sort of industry knowledge they can provide you.

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For instance, if you’re starting an e-commerce company, it’s a good idea to reach out to e-commerce gurus.

3. Engage with them on social media.

This ties into the previous step. Follow the top dogs on Twitter, read and comment on their blogs, watch their speeches for advice. If you know what makes them tick, would inform you on how to approach them.

Here’s a tip within in tip: In your email to them, reference a remark they made that gave you an aha moment. They’ll appreciate it, and you’d have gotten edge over your competitors. 

#Motherland Mogul Tip: Refrain from sending invitations on Facebook or LinkedIn, because people tend to swerve on the randoms.

4. If you have connections, use them!

As competition is stiff, use every tools at your disposal. If someone in your circle, knows someone who knows an investor, tell them to ask their friend for an email introduction on our behalf.

Email introductions increase your chances of getting a response. But first, be sure to send your pitch to your friend to ensure your message doesn’t get lost in translation.

The Email

1. Identify yourself

Start by telling them who you are, what you do, and how you found out about them. If you were connected through a mutual acquaintance, mention it.

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And remember: use the tip within the tip mentioned above to separate you from the pack.

2. Get straight to the point.

Mention the name of your business, it’s aims and objectives. Then summarize your business plan and the stage of your startup.

At this point, an investor will decide if your idea is worth pursuing or not, so be sure to be as clear and interesting as possible.

3. Provide additional info

Include a link to your business website or attach a pitch deck or essay that elaborates the service or product your business provides.

Also, state how your company is solving a teething problem and what sets it apart from its competitors.

4. Why them?

Investors want to know why they’re a good match for you and your business.

Consider what your business requires to reach the next growth phase, and use it to sell your point.

Also, peruse the prep steps above for help.

And of course, we’re not done…

5. Get the ball rolling

Round up your email by mentioning you’d love to discuss in person, and provide three suitable dates. Also if you have product samples, offer to show them at the meeting.

6. Pique their curiosity a little

Finally, if you’ve already met or are meeting a influential person, mention it! This would give you more credibility and make them pay attention to you.

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But be slick about it because name-dropping is oh tacky.

Have you used any of these tips to reach out to investors? Did they help? Have you used others that have been helpful?

Webinar with Andrea Barrica: The Do’s & Don’ts of Investor Pitching (Feb 2)

Don’t miss another event! Join our community and always stay informed.

RSVP for the webinar

Andrea Barrica-1If raising capital from an investor is one of your top business goals for 2016, then you need to join us on February 2 for a special webinar with an experienced entrepreneur and venture partner from Silicon Valley.

Some of the questions we’ll cover:

  • At what stage in your business should you be looking to speak with investors?
  • How long should your business pitch be?
  • How can you find investors interested in your business?
  • Do you need a professionally designed pitch deck?

About Andrea Barrica:  

Andrea Barrica is a Venture Partner at 500 Startups, a global seed fund and accelerator for early stage startups based in Silicon Valley. She was previously co-founder at inDinero, an accounting and taxes software solution where she led the team to the first $1M in sales in 10 months.

Andrea was a guest trainer at She Hive Lagos and coached our bootcamp participants on effective pitching and is excited to work with the SLA community again.

RSVP for the webinar here. Make sure you’re part of our community to get access to more upcoming events and programs.

Want to learn more about preparing for pitch events and competitions? Read our article on 4 things you must have to be pitch perfect.

RSVP for the webinar

Build A Pitch Deck That Brings In The Cash

A pitch deck has become the standard way to introduce your business to potential investors and partners. Unfortunately this is not something you’ll learn on the job or in school and very few people are willing to share their pitch decks with others.

We’ve pulled together the best examples from more than 1,000 pitch decks that we’ve reviewed to prepare the ultimate guide for creating a pitch deck that will connect with investors.

What you’ll gain from this guide:

– The fundamental structure of an investor pitch deck

– The do’s and don’ts that all entrepreneurs need to know before they share their deck with an investor

– A template that you can immediately fill out to create your pitch deck

– Examples from successful She Leads Africa entrepreneurs

Want access to this guide and slides from some of the best pitch decks from previous Entrepreneur Showcase finalists?

Then just fill out the form below to join our community and get access to this guide and AWESOME weekly content.