Mbowe: A go-getter from an early age
Khalila Mbowe, 29, is a social entrepreneur and managing director of Unleashed Africa, a company she founded in 2015. The petite mother of two — Raphael, 8, and Belle, 3 packs a ball of energy into her tiny frame.
After completing her secondary education at St Mary’s Secondary in Dar es Salaam, she started doing odd jobs and landed her first real job at the age of 18, back in 2006.
“It was surreal. I got a call at 4pm and was asked to attend an interview at 5pm. The company was FCB, an advertising agency, a subsidiary of Lowe SCANAD group. Two weeks later, she was hired, and worked as a copywriter for two months before being promoted to an account executive handling a prominent telco’s account.
By 2008 she had saved up enough money to enrol at Taylor’s University in Petaling Jaya, Malaysia. She graduated in 2010 with an advanced diploma in mass communication, specialising in marketing and advertising.
A family crisis stopped her from pursuing a degree course. Lucky for her, her earlier corporate experience made it easy to get contracts to work for Airtel branding, then a managerial position for Buddies, a TV production company from Uganda that was looking to franchise in Tanzania.
“In the capitalist economy, companies believe in the bottom line, and this is why I am passionate about social enterprises. In this framework, capacity building encourages social entrepreneurship. The bottom line cannot just be about money because for companies to thrive, people need to be able to spend,” says Khalila.
It’s this belief that pushed her to register Unleashed Africa, which currently employs over 20 staff. As a communications expert, she has worked with several major companies and organisations such as Vodacom, Total TZ, Uongozi Institute, TED Global and Sera Project.
Recently, she was a speaker at the Aga Khan Development Network’s Youth Entrepreneurship for Social Impact conference. Khalila is a self-taught choreographer who has worked with Ali Kiba, a renowned Bongo Flava musician.
She is the first to confess that the journey to selfemployment is not an easy one. At one point after she had started her own company, she had to give up her home and vehicle and lived in a friend’s guest room with her son. Her vision is that everyone has a calling to solve a problem.
Earlier this year she became a member of the Women in Finance network funded by the Graca Machel Trust.
She’s currently studying for a long distance degree course in business administration with a bias towards entrepreneurship at the University of the People in Florida, US. -Caroline Uliwa