Tusekile Kibonde - Strongly Believes Women Can Make It in Business
(AllAfrica Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Looking at Tusekile Kibonde, seated across a desk in her office, I was taken up at how dashingly feminine she looked in her fuchsia suit accessorized with gold.
Looking calm and relaxed it was hard to imagine that this lady goes through documents with a fine tooth comb to decide whether or not an enterprise qualifies for support from her organisation, Africa Trade Insurance Agency (ATI). Ms Kibonde joined ATI in August last year as the underwriter responsible for Tanzania.
She is in charge of developing business and underwriting political and trade credit risk policies in Tanzania in addition to managing energy sector transactions in all ATI markets.
Before joining ATI Ms Kibonde had worked for 13 years in the banking industry including working with the East African Development Bank (EADB), where she rose to the position of Senior Investment Officer. At EADB, Ms Kibonde oversaw multi-million dollar projects in multiple sectors throughout the region.
Her responsibilities included extensive risk analyses, project appraisal and portfolio management while also developing new business and investment opportunities.
She was credited for contributing towards the growth and quality of EADB's portfolio. Holding a Master of Arts Degree in Accounting and Financial Management from the University of Essex in the United Kingdom and a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Business Administration from Richmond College in the United Kingdom, Ms Kibonde felt after 13 years it was time she changed career.
"Based on my professional background I wanted to explore another challenging career and enhance knowledge that will compliment my strong project financing experience in making changes in Tanzania's economy, region and the entire Africa.
This was by me joining an organisation that offers "unique" type of insurance that is very different from the traditional insurance that is known to most of us," she elaborates. Explaining further she says, "The insurance sector that I have joined is similar to those known in developed market as "Export Credit Agency" (ECA) that provides trade and investment insurance or guarantee.
At ATI I'm highly involved in analysing how trade and investments can mitigate potential risks of losing their businesses either as a result of non-payment, insolvency or unfair action by a government that causes hardship to a company or foreign investor's business interests," ATI is therefore not an insurance company but a multilateral organisation that operates as Africa's ECA.
Its main role is to facilitate trading activities as well as attract foreign direct investors into Africa. Ms Kibonde considers insurance as the act of safeguarding potential risks whether it's property, health or investment.
At ATI the organisation offers speciality guarantees/ insurance to companies and investors to protect their business interests against investment risks also referred to as political risks and commercial risks (payment default risks). Working very closely with banks, Ms Kibonde says she has to be knowledgeable at all times and takes networking very seriously.
Before going to Britain for further studies Ms Kibonde underwent national service at the Ruvumu camp. She is delighted to find out that when she goes knocking on doors in her line of business she comes across people she met during her national service days.
ATI does business with 80 percent of the banks in the country and since 2004 when ATI wrote the first policy in Tanzania for the importation of edible oils from Mauritius, it has made inroads into the market leading to guarantees/insurance cover on transactions in road rehabilitation, exports of textiles, imports of industrial equipment, water supply and irrigation projects and more.
ATI has a growing list of manufacturing clients, contractor, exporters form the agricultural sector, importers from Europe and Asia and are attracting more local companies.
Through these transactions ATI has secured foreign direct investment from countries including, Canada, Italy, Japan, Kenya Mauritius and Norway.
According to the company's 2013 results released last month ATI assisted in attracting US$28 million 132 bn/- worth of trade and investments into the country last year. In 2013, ATI supported the energy, financial services, telecommunications and transport sectors in Tanzania =, In one transaction ATI insured US62 million (100 bn/- lending facility set up by several banks to support the state power utility's plans to expand coverage in the country.
Ms Kibonde said that in most developed economies, private credit insurers cover exporters against the risk of not being paid by their clients. Unfortunately this product is not found in most sub-Saharan African countries, where, in most cases, exporters are left in the position of requesting for payment conditions that affect their competiveness.
To remedy this ATI has developed a product that insures exporters against the risk of non-payment either for single transactions or on a portfolio basis. Much as ATI works with international partners it would like to see more local companies and SMEs access finance.
"Small companies often find it hard to access bank financing as they are considered a high risk. ATI has developed a number of products to make it easier for banks to finance these prospective clients. In that same vein Ms Kibonde would love to see more women seeking out services from ATI.
"Women should think more like men and not give up easily when they come across hurdles while doing business. Even if women get no for an answer they should always look for alternatives," advises Ms Kibonde. ATI offices are located at the Private Sector House along Mwaya Road, Msasani Peninsula that is home to the Tanzania private sector Foundation.
She says that even failures should be looked at as lessons learnt and with perseverance more women would succeed in business. She would like more women to take on invest covers for their respective businesses so that even if the unexpected happens at least one would have reduced the damage and managed any losses.
She urges more people to come to ATI for the various services and they should not be shy even if their records show that they are not making super profits. She does emphasis that keeping audited accounts is important as audited accounts show how a company spends and invests its money.
Calling herself a social being Ms Kibonde loves being around people in her free time. She loves being involved in community projects and in mentoring young people but makes sure she dedicates time for her family.
Copyright Tanzania Daily News. Distributed by AllAfrica Global Media (allAfrica.com).
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