Women's IT Sector Enterprises

Case Study No. 9


Providing ICT Solutions: MICES in Morogoro, Tanzania

 

Case Study Author

Aurelia Kamuzora aureliakamuzora@hotmail.com

 

Enterprise History

Millennium Computer & Electronic Services (MICES) was set up by Mrs Kilasara using her own savings.  She is an entrepreneur who was employed at Sokoine University as a computer technician where she started to help the university employees with their computer-related problems.  Through her work experience, she became motivated to start her own ICT enterprise.  Since then her skills in ICT sales and solutions have enabled her business in Morogoro, Tanzania to grow.

 

Enterprise Profile

As well as delivering IT training, assembling hardware and doing data entry, MICES offers solutions to various ICT-based problems.  Customers include institutions such as the municipal council, universities, private sector investors, banks, private individuals and the Regional Commissioner's offices in Tanzania.

 

There are four full-time members of staff including Mrs Kilasara, another woman and two men.  Mrs Kilasara, who is married with three children, has a (UK) HND in Electronics and Instrumentation, her two male employees (a computer repair manager and a field assistant) have Diplomas in Electronics from Dar es Salaam Institute of Technology and her female secretary has a secretarial certificate.  The enterprise also offers internships to various Tanzanian ICT institutions and currently has four part-time interns.

 

MICES uses one landline phone, two mobiles, one laptop and two desktop computers.  The dialup Internet connection is no longer used as the high monthly charges made it uneconomic.  Windows XP and MS Office are the main software used.

 

Enterprise Performance

Total sales in 2004 were equivalent to about US$150,000.  This was achieved through three institutional repair contracts, the repair of 30 PCs, three institutional contracts (which are renewable on a quarterly basis), the sale of forty printers, the delivery of eight IT training courses, and the assistance of twenty interns (for whom no charge is levied).   The excess of income over direct expenditure (e.g. purchase of the printers and parts for repair) in 2004 was about US$50,000.  On a monthly basis, the cost of salaries is around US$180 with electricity costs varying from around US$15 to US$45.

 

One additional electronic engineer has been taken on since 2002 and sales have increased by 25%.

 

Main Success Factors

1.      Mrs Kilasara feels that her own knowledge of ICT, including her HND qualification in Electronics and Instrumentation, has been an important contribution to the success of her enterprise.

2.      Her ambition to have ICT activities as both hobby and profession is a second factor.

3.      Finally, she attributes success to the expertise in ICT gained from her work as an ICT technician at Sokoine University in Morogoro.

 

Main Benefits for Women

1.      A salary for the individual women employed at MICES of around US$20 per month.

2.      Job creation for these women - MICES has employed three women over the course of its life to date.

3.      The manager, Mrs Kilasara, is topping up her own salary and has been able to pay her children's fees for international English-medium primary and secondary schools.  She also says that the enterprise enhances her ICT competences.

 

Main Negative Impacts or Risks

1.      She fears robbery and other business and financial risks.  She is risk averse, evidenced by her not investing much in stocks though she does have some shares at the Dar-es-Salaam stock exchange for her children.

 

Good Practice in Management

1.      Record keeping; for example in relation to customers, accounts, and details of repair work.

2.      Creating demand for ICT products and solutions by educating customers.  Mrs Kilasara shows new products and ICT development to people in different market segments in the local areas such as government and university staff.

3.      Keeping up-to-date with new products in the market.

 

Main Challenges

1.      Women have to work harder for recognition than their male counterparts in ICT business enterprises.  Many (male) customers are sceptical that Mrs Kilasara can solve their problems so she has to work hard to convince them.  For example, a professor  from Mzumbe University mistakenly thought her husband was the owner.  When he later realised that she was the owner, he asked her whether she was competent.  She answered "Yes, your laptop is outdated, you better buy a new one…" and explained some technical issues with which the professor later agreed.  According to her, it takes time to demonstrate her competence in a male-dominated society.

2.      Cultural issues: women are normally reactive to men not proactive in different spheres.  It needs courage to start convincing men about a new product since it is traditionally seen as a man's role to approach women rather than vice versa.

3.      Capital and space: Mrs Kilasara needs more capital in order to expand.  She also needs a very large space to properly house a repair facility.

 

Case Photograph

 

Case Details

Author Data Sources/Role: Interview and Observation; No Direct Role

Region: East Africa  Start Date: 1999  Submission Date: June 2005


The "Women's ICT-Based Enterprise for Development" project is coordinated by the University of Manchester's Institute for Development Policy and Management.  The project is funded by the UK Department for International Development's Knowledge and Research programme.

 

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 http://www.womenictenterprise.org/mices.htm  September 2005