Spotlight: investing in local leadership

September 03, 2018

Ansila Evans Makupa is an entrepreneur at heart.

Growing up in Tanzania’s bustling commercial capital, Dar es Salaam, she helped her mother manage the family poultry business.

“I grew up with all these experiences from watching her. I saw how helpful business was for her – she was able to send us to school and provide food for us. She even built her own house with money she made from her poultry business. That’s when I realized the value of entrepreneurship,” Ansila says of her upbringing.

Ansila started out with Solar Sister in 2016, working to support rural women in the coastal Tanga region to launch clean energy businesses. She was excited to combine her studies in Business Administration and her passion for women’s leadership.

I love business and I love Solar Sister’s mission!

In early 2017, Ansila was promoted to Solar Sister’s Business Development Manager for northeast Tanzania, supporting several field staff and hundreds of women entrepreneurs to spread clean energy in their communities.

“I keep learning from the women that I work with,” Ansila says of her new position. “And now I see some leadership skills in me. Being a Manager gives me a chance to develop others, by sharing experience and working closely with them. I love that because I get a chance to share and give support. I enjoy the coaching part of the job.”

Her work is challenging and Ansila is keen to keep learning and improving her leadership skills. This August, she was selected to participate in Plan International‘s Global Women in Management (GWIM) workshop under the WomenLead Institute and supported by the ExxonMobil Foundation. GWIM’s intensive training program aims to grow the “representation and impact of women in leadership positions across all sectors and institutions, with a focus on developing countries.”

The Global Women in Management workshop, 2018.

For Ansila, the training was “transformative,” both professionally and personally. She explains that a part of leadership is simply knowing and believing that you have it in you.

“I did not believe that I was a leader. From this experience, the exchanges with others and classes taken, I know I have all the qualities and characteristics of a good leader. I can be a role model for someone if I draw on these.”

She plans to pass on the skills she learned at the WomenLead Institute to her colleagues at Solar Sister Tanzania.

A final word of advice for young women who aspire to lead?

You have something in yourself that you don’t yet know. If you try to discover it, you will find it very valuable to your life. But you can’t achieve anything if you don’t believe in yourself. So I think young women should not underestimate themselves.