The Food of Tanzania

I wanted to give you a mouth-watering insight on the versatility of Tanzanian cuisine. I’ve asked my co-workers what they like eating, as they are coming from different places. I’ve asked about festive food, and I’ve eaten a whole lot of different meals myself.

But there it is: The festive food is nowhere near exquisite as the Imperial cuisine of China. Festive food in Tanzania has two main ingredients: pilau rice and meat. And the practice of schooling kids 1000 km away during Tanzania’s socialist years may have leveled the national taste somewhat. Dar es Salaam is a melting pot and is offering pretty much all kind of local food. So it looks like I may have reached the width and breadth of food after only two months. Continue reading The Food of Tanzania

The Story of Kitimoto

Tanzanians have a great hand with barbeques, as do the Kenyans and the South Africans and the Swazi and probably a great many more people in Africa and in the rest of the world. Ah, not to forget the Argentinians!

In spite of the abundance of grilled meats and the great skillsmanship Kitimoto is something else. Kitimoto literally stands for hot seat. Continue reading The Story of Kitimoto

The Complaints about High Interest Rates

FINCA’s loan officers apparently get a lot of complaints about  high perceived interest rates in Tanzania. Their credits starts at 2.5% interest per month, and depend on loan amount and borrower risk. One of FINCA’s competitors advertises loans with a yearly interest rate of 25%. Short of discussing usury and setting aside culturally influenced notions that an interest should not be paid but rather received (the Swiss national bank is still imposing negative interest rates on large amounts at the time of writing) we may just ask ourselves: What is better for the client? Continue reading The Complaints about High Interest Rates

I’m Working in Six Sigma – Six what?

Half of my assignment with FINCA Microfinance Bank Tanzania has almost passed – time to write about what I’m actually doing, as the objective was not entirely clear at the beginning.

FINCA Tanzania is embracing a methodology to improve processes called Six Sigma. We currently  use it to analyze account opening and other back-office processes. After visiting two branches in Dar es Salaam it became clear that we should be focusing on Continue reading I’m Working in Six Sigma – Six what?

Tanzanian Wine for the Middle Class

There are South African wines but who has heard of other wines from Africa? Chateau Musar from Lebanon, where wine was produced all through the civil war, sometimes delivering crates of grapes to the wine cellar in the middle of the night in order to escape sniper bullets. Continue reading Tanzanian Wine for the Middle Class

What about the Middle Class in Tanzania?

I noticed that some of my colleagues from FINCA define themselves as middle class. My boss has recently summarized this: “Take her”, he pointed out X to me, “she is middle class. She has a salary, owns a car, pays taxes, has a pension fund, lives in her own house and has cable internet at home”. He made it sound easy to define a phenomenon that has left others struggling to come to terms with. Continue reading What about the Middle Class in Tanzania?

Dar es Salaam – Dodoma and back

Bus trip Dar es Salaam to Dodoma takes 8.5 hours and more if there are traffic jams. The road is heavily used by trucks transporting goods to neighboring countries such as Zambia, Malawi, Congo, Burundi and Rwanda. It is a trip best enjoyed in one of Shabiby’s Luxury VIP buses and during daytime as there are so many things to be seen.

dar_dodoma Continue reading Dar es Salaam – Dodoma and back

Dodoma, the Powerless Capital of Tanzania

Last week’s business trip to Tanzania’s capital Dodoma has given me a very distinctive taste of Tanzania. I would never have guessed that anything else but Dar es Salaam is the country’s capital. Dar es Salaam has the industry, the workforce, the sea port, the embassies, the international airport, the companies and the traffic while Dodoma Continue reading Dodoma, the Powerless Capital of Tanzania

How to Ask (the right) Questions?

Through the Global Citizen Program by Credit Suisse I’ve been exposed to some serious coaching and have received the opportunity to reflect on the power of questions.

First thing I realized: questions carry the risk of bringing me into trouble. “What’s your name, sir?”, “What is it you like doing in your spare time?”, “When will I receive the status update from your team?” Continue reading How to Ask (the right) Questions?

Why Do They Spend What They Don’t Have?

I grew up with a piggy bank. My generation was told by parents that it is important to save “for bad times”.  When bad times never came and I grew up I started to get a different idea of saving and the value of money. Yet I never considered credit except for buying a home. This one belief is hard to change: “Don’t spend what you don’t have.”

Yet the business model of microfinance institutions (MFIs) is based on the wish Continue reading Why Do They Spend What They Don’t Have?

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