Theresia Kessy started her small tailoring business in 1993. She specialized in making batik and tie-dye clothes and owned two sewing machines. Four years later she heard from a friend that she could apply for a loan from a company named SELFINA. She approached Dr. Victoria Kisyombe, and after a quick review of her business she was granted a lease of a butterfly sewing machine.
A year later, after Mama Kessy had repaid her lease she applied for another loan. Due to her punctuality in repaying the first lease and her goodwill, she was granted a working capital loan of TZS 300,000. She used this capital to buy new materials for making the batik and the dyes. Since this time, Mama Kessy has received numerous loans for her business, and has expanded her business significantly.
She stated that the help provided by SELFINA made a huge difference for her. Not only was the working capital an enormous help, but also the seminars that were organized that helped her develop entrepreneurial skills and aided her in finding ways to expand to new markets.
The issue of finding markets was highlighted by Mama Kessy as being a particularly problematic one. In the first years she was one of the few women that created batiks and tie-dye, but nowadays there are many competitors in the market. This has made her try to venture into new markets, as now, for example, she also sews school uniforms for the schools in the area. Her assertive attitude has proved to being key. She took the initiative and spread around flyers of her business, allowing her to receive her first bulk order of 150 dresses and a number of shirts from a nearby school.
With such an entrepreneurial attitude we are sure that Theresia Kessey will be able to continue the development of her business. She has already diversified, as she now also owns a restaurant together with her husband. Her future aspiration, however, is to break out of the local market and be able to sell her clothing, batiks and tie-dyes internationally.
Her advice to other women hoping to build up their business is as follows: firstly, it is very important that you use your working capital solely for your business. If you use the money for other purposes, it will be very difficult for you to grow your business, and therefore also difficult to repay the loan. Secondly, she advises to avoid losing customers to the competition by guaranteeing quality products in a timely manner. Customer care is crucial, as it makes it more likely that customers will return to place new orders.