THE Nyama Choma Festival has become one of the most popular events in Tanzania and beyond where people meet, share jokes, get entertained and eat barbecues prepared by different chefs conglomerating in one place.
Salivating as it may look and thrilling, the brains behind this event is a diligent and confident woman who takes it as her priority to entertain and make the citizens feel fun that all deserve the treatment regardless of age, sex, race, religion, you name it.
Meeting her for the first time, Carol, a mother of two is very charming, lovely and a welcoming person. And, this has left many Nyama Choma participants wondering as to what really pushed her to venture into a unique but successful event that draws people from all walks of life.
At a young age, she was passionate about humanitarian actions and philanthropy but she found herself being pulled to the side of media and decided to take Mass Communication and Public Relations at SJMC.
“The move saw me in 2000 working with IPP Media in different capacities for seven good years. Nevertheless, I then shifted to pub lic relations in 2007, where I again worked with Executive Solutions until 2010,” she adds.
With skills acquired from the media houses, she became proactive and again creative enough to think of establishing a company, named-AltaVista Events Limited, in 2011. As if that was not enough, her passion to become an activist made her get back to school again where she studied Peace studies and Environmental Solutions.
However, the 4th of June 2011, marked a watershed in her life as it gave birth to The Nyama Choma Festival, a fully patented brand. According to Carol, the time of the launch coincided with the period many companies, out of the blues, were ‘opening up’ and advertising their businesses and wares, making it difficult for her as competition was stiff.
“It was disappointing and discouraging,” She said. Armed with theories she had acquired from institutions of learning and work experience, she took the challenges as teething problems that would wane with time and continued working towards her goal.
And, true to her prediction the event has grown over the years into a house hold name, not only in Tanzania but also in the Demo cratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Uganda where it is also registered.
As if that was not enough, she has plans of holding it in Rwanda once a year. Asked on the public response to the event, Carol said, “The response since the first event has been amazing. Our customers have grown from hundreds to thousands. The challenge is now not being able to branch out to all the regions (in Tanzania) asking for our presence.”
On Challenges she said that the economic situation faced by every business entity is a thorn in the flesh. “Circulation of money isn't as it used to be. Brands have cut down on their marketing budgets hence less sponsorship opportunities and customers have lowered their spending budgets due to low purchasing power.
“Our challenge now is maintaining the quality and standard of our event at a minimal budget that will still allow for returns,” she added. She, however, said that they are not taking a back seat and watching challenges reversing the gains of their success, so they are taking measures to mitigate the effects.
“It’s all in minimising on costs while trying to retain standards. This we have also learnt works bet ter with partnerships and collaborations as opposed to sponsorships,” Carol said.
As a candle loses nothing by lighting another, Carol has advice to fellow women with budding dreams, “My biggest strength is moving past the challenges and hurdles that keep being thrown at me as a woman in this business.
“Most times you are undermined and taken advantage of in a sense they might even partner with you but only to exploit you and not because of a shared goal or vision. “Choose your partnerships, team, and collaborations wisely.
The trick I have learnt is to keep pushing, resilience in business is everything. Through tough and good times, the strongest are always the ones left standing, she said. Carol said that the sky is the limit for her and once to be the leading event throughout East Africa.
“We aim to be the number one family friendly outdoor event in East Africa. We still plan to expand in the region and are thinking of franchising it out to local partners,” she said.
Furthermore, Carol wanted to nurture her philanthropic side and in 2013, she and her mother teamed up to start an NGO that focused on helping women, especially single mothers. The idea developed into “Mama Maendeleo” which now trains women to become farmers and engage in poultry ventures.
The project enables women to acquire skills in farming and poultry, and then gives them capital of which they repay it through profits acquired. Apart from the foundation and Nyama Choma event, Carol also has other events under her company.
She owns events such as BYOB (Bring Your Own Bottle) and Sunday Cookout which is a product of Nyama Choma Festival. Carol was among few Tanzanians who were chosen to attend YALI in the USA last year.
The opportunity helped her gain connections but also contributed in her applying for a job at DLab where she is now working. She told Woman Magazine that her biggest setback in life is women.
She believes that they do not support each other enough. “Most people don’t like to collaborate therefore I always end up disappointed. We are our worst enemies; there is lack of cooperation among women. We should stop the mindset that we are in competition with each other all the time,” Carol concluded.