Dar es Salaam. Informed and impactful decisions are sometimes made with the help of those who lived and experienced them to be assured of the outcome.
As Head of Mobile Financial Services (Business, Partnerships and Government) at MTMSL Tanzania Limited (Tigo Pesa) – and also co-founder of Kilimo Fresh – it took Faith Pella her experience working in Nigeria to start thinking about bring him Fintech and digital expertise in Tanzania.
Faith’s professional journey unfolded when she became an accountant at Airline Cargo Tanzania. This was after graduating from the Institute of Finance Management (IFM) in 2008. Three years later, she enrolled for a Masters in International Business at the same institute.
“Before I embarked on my Master’s course, I was interested in business. It gave me a chance to understand deeper trading mechanics. However, over time my interests shifted to technology. The company I worked with, Cellulant Tanzania Chapter, had made use of additional mobile services, including mobile payments integrations and mobile banking. So the business wheel of work took a minor turn, and so did my job,” she told The Citizen.
His company has also adopted technology from other countries.
After working as a business development manager for around five years, Faith was promoted to national manager of the Tanzania chapter in 2014.
“Two years later, I had the opportunity to go and work in the Nigerian chapter of the company as Operations Manager. I held the position for two years. My work experience grew several inches longer as I was exposed to Fintech and agricultural technology. I slowly started thinking about bringing my expertise home,” Faith reveals to The Citizen.
As the idea of expanding his knowledge and implementing it in his homeland clouded his head, he was presented with two jobs in Nigeria that could have enhanced his title; but she chose Tanzania.
Upon returning home in 2019, Faith was offered two more opportunities: to work at MTMSL Tanzania Ltd (Tigo Pesa) as head of MFS corporate, partnershsips, government – a position she holds to this day. The second chance was to become a board member of the Tanzania Startup Association (TSA) which links start-ups to the government. She applied for membership and became a member of the association.
“When I was in Nigeria, I had also developed my passion for agriculture because my former company was keen to see the connection between technological innovation and agriculture. We even ran a project called Government Enhancement Scheme in which we reached about four million farmers in Nigeria over a four-year period and provided them with an e-wallet platform to manage the distribution of grants,” she recounts.
Starting working at Tigo Pesa, Faith’s role was to observe, study and develop initiatives that surround agriculture in the country as well as interact with key players in the agriculture sector in Tanzania and see how they can all take it forward collectively.
Among the many hats Faith wears, she is also the co-founder of an agricultural start-up called Kilimo Fresh Foods Africa Limited. She created Kilimo Fresh in 2019 with Baraka Jeremih and Justice Mangu with whom she had worked side by side during her stay in Nigeria.
“We started discussing the development of Kilimo Fresh in Tanzania when we were all working for Cellulant. Both had a background in agriculture and I was an expert in Agri Tech, so we became the perfect trio. Our job is to connect and expose small fresh produce farmers to the seamless market,” explains Faith.
Over the years, Faith has faced challenges that have caused her to reevaluate her life goals and remember her strength.
“There have been countless times where I’ve been discouraged, but I’m a badass because I understand and acknowledge that I’m a go-getter and a firm believer in the saying that ‘hard work pays off’. I’ve seen it and I’ve lived it. Knowing what I want and what I don’t want in my life and my career has helped me and it continues to push me through the rough waves,” Faith says.
One of the most vulnerable times Faith went through, she recalls, was the gender stereotype that “women are incomplete without marriage and without children.” It made her think about marriage back when she silently knew she wasn’t ready to marry anyone.
“I thought that if I got married, it would create a special status for me in society. I had my career evolving on one side, I had the person I was engaged to on the other, and I also had people’s perceptions. I couldn’t bear the weight and pressure from three sides, so I didn’t pursue the marriage,” she says.
According to Faith, many women are forced into marriage by societal pressure even when they weren’t ready for marriage.
“For a long time, women have experienced gender inequality all the more as society continues to turn a blind eye to this issue. Despite the efforts made by various stakeholders to improve the participation of women in leadership, it should never be as if they are doing us a favor by choosing us to be members of boards and organizations because we deserve to take part of any high-level decision-making system, just like men do,” Faith points out.
She explains that it is high time that organizations take note of the inherent potential of women and consider the impact that will occur once these women obtain higher positions.
“Women should also take risks. When you believe in your skills and abilities, you are likely to win more hearts than when you don’t. You don’t have to adapt to society’s expectations of you. Accept your differences while you work on skills development, eventually society will adjust,” Faith believes.