Creating sustainable and more inclusive entrepreneurial ventures in Mozambique is key to the country’s future economic success. But that requires the development and training of a new generation of entrepreneurs who can build businesses capable of growing and succeeding. Ecokaya, founded by entrepreneur Tania Tome, is on a mission to be part of the solution to making this vision a reality.
LoA met with serial entrepreneur, Tania Tome, last month in Maputo to learn more.
What does your company do?
Waganha Success+ is a Mozambican startup company owned by Ecokaya holding company. Success+ provides business development services, training, communication, technological and motivational tools, to help create more successful entrepreneurs and leaders in Africa, and an entrepreneurial ecosystem more inclusive and sustainable for startups and SMEs and new businesses. Its also an online platform and integrated solution with the first Mobile app for entrepreneurs and leaders in Mozambique and Portuguese-speaking countries called SuccessPluz (GooglePlay), with TVShow and Award and Challenge for Leaders and entrepreneurs. Also, the succenergy program and training to develop motivational and resilient skills, management and financial tools. The SuccessPluz goal is to create an entrepreneur and leadership empowerment platform, that allows entrepreneurs and leaders to develop basic financial accounts, to allow them to access business knowledge and basic business toolkits, mentoring communication and media support, legal and juridical frame and access of relevant information, to do crowdfunding as a tool of fundraising, and to link with investors and mentors. Waganha likes to reinforce a call for youth and women entrepreneurs, for entrepreneurs and micro-entrepreneurs in the informal sector, creative industries and green projects, and ideas and projects from primary schools. Waganha is part of Ecokaya Capital, a pilot project to integrate solutions under development. It’s goal is to incubate and finance entrepreneurs in order to leverage small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and entrepreneurs and startups to supply large scale projects. Ecokaya also has many different programs focusing on women and youth empowerment - one is called Womenice, and the other MozBusiness Tools, is a one stop solution for SMEs.
"My purpose and passion is to empower people and companies to be their best and achieve their maximum potential."
What inspired you to start your company?
In Mozambique, 98.5% of the companies are SMEs, with many micro-entrepreneurs in the informal market, with no business background nor organized financial accounts, and this is exactly the same situation in most of the African countries. I believe that SMEs are the driving force behind economic development in developing economies. SMEs enhance competition and entrepreneurship and thus contribute to economy-wide benefits in efficiency, innovation and productivity growth. Obstacles to growth include lack of access to finance, knowledge and training, motivational and leadership tools and skills, lack of references, a weak entrepreneurship ecosystem. The current policy of Mozambican Government is to promote and develop "local content" and entrepreneurship in order to attend the huge supply needs of ‘mega projects’, which would reduce unemployment. However, in Mozambique there are few companies focusing on markets to leverage entrepreneurs, SMEs and startups, and doing it with integrated solutions, working in the supply side but also in the demand side, generating an infrastructure impact. My purpose and passion is to empower people and companies to be their best and achieve their maximum potential.
Why should anyone use your service or product?
Our service is an integrated solution, efficient and innovative, looking to cover all the opportunities in the value chain for our clients. We do combine the supply side with the demand side, using communication tools and various media to disseminate information and prepare the market. We are also provocative, believers and doers, and we support our clients to have that same energy, faith, motivation and fight until they achieve their goals. Our success is our client success.
"Our service is an integrated solution, efficient and innovative, looking to cover all the opportunities in the value chain for our clients."
Tell us a little about your team
Led by a team with a wide international business experience, it represents a diverse set of economic activities and operations in Mozambique, with many contacts in Portugal, London, USA, Brazil, Angola, Cape Verde, integrated in a management policy largely based on a model of continued expansion and development. Our Business Development Managers work closely with advisers and strategic partners, looking for ways to provide you with effective solutions to help you to grow your business. The Ecokaya team is composed of both senior and middle managers, together with young and dynamic people with experience in multiple fields.
Share a little about your entrepreneurial journey. And, do you come from an entrepreneurial background?
It is difficult to understand what the beginning was, or to try to name it because the desire to create new things and a particular taste to sell, comes from deep within me. But I was 13 when I started making necklaces and selling them at school, so my first savings came from this enterprise. Maybe it was the extreme desire for independence, which came to fruition when I started living alone and working as a servant in a restaurant at the age of seventeen. But entrepreneurship needs to be emphasized from my point of view, it is not only a business that generates a monetary return, but also one that is innovative and can generate social returns, institutional changes within an organization or mobilization, and influence a group of people. This is for me the true entrepreneur, the one who has strong leadership skills and impacts other people’s lives. Before I embarked on this entrepreneurial journey, I used to be a banker for more than 10 years, and many of those years spent supporting entrepreneurs and SMEs in my role as head of credit and risk mitigation, and head of new business development.
"Our Business Development Managers work closely with advisers and strategic partners, looking for ways to provide you with effective solutions to help you to grow your business."
What are your future plans and aspirations for your company?
In 10 years, Ecokaya will be operational across a number of African countries, where the market will understand Ecokaya Capital, Ecokaya Incubator and Success+ company as the integrated solution to best serve the African entrepreneurial ecosystem, its stakeholders and agents. With Ecokaya Risk Fund, we will finance SME projects through equity and quasi-equity, and provide alternatives types of finance as Fintech, crowdfunding and other capital market solutions. The SuccessPluz mobile app and succenergy training and book for entrepreneurs and leaders will be known worldwide for their maximum impact. I will also position myself as a thought leader in my role as NGO President. My goal is to develop social programs in the region, write articles and speak about enabling alternative ways of finance to access rural communities, talking about entrepreneurship as a solution to unemployment, and leadership and education pillars for development. Ecokaya will be 10 years older, but with a young and innovative spirit. It is intended to have a greater number of workers, but more than quantity, quality. We also review ourselves as the point of reference, supporting entrepreneurs to grow, establishing partnerships, and pushing the country, pushing Africa for development, for a bigger and better world for all.
What gives you the most satisfaction being an entrepreneur?
Bringing ideas to action - being a dreamer and also a doer. Reinventing myself as much as needed to start from a beginning that makes me happier. Impact other people’s lives also gives me huge satisfaction.
What's the biggest piece of advice you can give to other women looking to start-up?
Don’t be afraid to be afraid, have the courage to face fear, and jump - there are lots of great things that happen when we decide to take risks. Take small steps and actions, instead of waiting for the right moment, you only make this walk learning by doing. Be the best version of yourself every second, and learn the succenergy principles and values to activate your energy and discover all your success inside of you.
Contact or follow Ecokaya
Why LoA loves it….
Africa needs women entrepreneurs who have passion for what they do and the ability to build businesses that enable them to turn that passion into a high impact economic reality. Tania Tome has a passion for empowering and developing the potential in others and is making her contribution to the future economic development of her country and the continent through her efforts. --- Melanie Hawken, founder and editor-in-chief of Lionesses of Africa