Washington — One of Africa’s rising female entrepreneurs says she has learned from the United States that Africans should not wait for their governments to fund everything needed to improve their communities.
“America doesn’t wait for the government to fund everything,” Susan Mashibe said on Charlie Rose, a major U.S. television talk show. She said that during a visit to the United States she saw how university graduates give back to their alma maters and how citizens lead local campaigns to improve their communities. She cited as an example New York City residents cooperating to beautify Central Park. “That’s something we don’t do in Tanzania. That’s a new concept for us, but as a result of this program I see that part of my company’s responsibility is give back to our community.”
Mashibe came to the United States in 2011 as a member of the Fortune magazine/U.S. State Department Global Women’s Mentoring Partnership after being identified as one of Africa’s rising young entrepreneurs. She spent three weeks with Marissa Mayer, who at the time was vice president of Google Inc., a leading Internet company. In 2012, Mayer was named chief executive officer of another Internet company, Yahoo Inc.
Mayer welcomed Mashibe to live in her home and accompany her to the office, to give the young African entrepreneur as much expertise as she could.
Mashibe is the first woman in East Africa to become a certified pilot and aviation engineer, after studying at the University of Western Michigan. Disappointed in achieving her ambition to become a commercial airline pilot after the downturn in the U.S. aviation industry following the September 11, 2001, attacks, she went back to her native Tanzania and rented an office at the Dar es Salaam airport. There she established TanJet, the first company in Tanzania to provide logistical and technical support for private jets. Forbes, a U.S. business magazine, reports that TanJet is changing the way aviation companies operate in East Africa.
Mashibe said she learned valuable lessons from Mayer about making time for friends and family, growing her business and giving back to the community.
“Marissa is passionate about family, and makes time for them and friends. I met her father, mother, brother and husband. She is a scientist who loves art. She took me to museums,” Mashibe said. Mashibe said she observed how Mayer gives back to the community by serving on the boards of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the San Francisco Ballet and the New York City Ballet.
Mashibe’s business goal is to increase the size of her company, and Mayer coached her on delegating authority and hiring and motivating employees. “What Marissa taught me is to hire smart people who get things done. I also saw how important it is to have a healthy team, but be willing to dismiss bad apples before they contaminate the team,” she said.
Mayer said she learned from Mashibe that the challenges of business leadership are the same regardless of country, culture or industry.
SOURCE: IIP DIGITAL