Welcome to our series of introductions to African Leadership Academy’s 2018 cohort – and meet Lisa Shehan from Tanzania…
“Failure sharpens us to become greater entrepreneurs…”
A successful and still growing female African entrepreneur, Lisa Shehan’s story is one that can be seen as an inspiration for many young African girls. Growing up in a rural area called Moshono with just her mother and three sisters, Lisa observed the challenges faced by the members of her community, most of whom are poultry farmers. These struggles that she observed would then be her inspiration for creating positively impactful solutions.
“60% of the Tanzanian economy relies on agriculture and I considered how I could help the economy by boosting small scale poultry farmers and that’s how I came up with Organic Feeds.”
With industrially produced maize brand proving to be unaffordable for many farmers, Lisa came up with an environmentally sustainable and cheaper option. The idea for this came from watching her mother feed their own poultry at home with raw bananas and potato peels. She considered how these natural products could be produced to last longer and be distributed to other poultry farmers. With research, she found ways of drying and mixing these ingredients with natural ingredients such as egg shells and silver fish to create a good nutritional formula that would help the poultry grow and increase in mass as well as egg production.
Lisa describes her biggest challenge in her endeavours thus far as being her age. “Being a young girl in a community that views age as synonymous with maturity has been a struggle,” she says. In the beginning, it was difficult finding people that would buy and trust her products enough to use them. To combat this, she started out with a small sample group whom were impressed by her and this allowed her venture to grow. Also, running her venture while still in school has been a struggle, as these are both demanding areas. “I have had to learn to constantly adjust and practice self-regulation in order to create a balance between the two.”
As far as her journey to ALA, this young leader had to apply twice before gaining admittance. She says, “After getting rejected the first time, I didn’t give up because I believe ALA’s vision aligns with my interests and passions and I believed the school would guide me on my journey to the future I see for myself.”
Lisa’s vision has indeed been manifested through her Entrepreneurial Leadership Class, where the BUILD model has helped her in relation to her own business. She is also doing Chemistry and Biology which she enjoys because they feed into her passions and she is able to apply what she’s learning. Lisa is also a part of the Environmental Club, Girl Up, African Dance, and recently started interning for AgriFarmasha.
Her dream is to become a large scale farmer, and through this, she hopes to promote and help other women to excel in agriculture. “I want it to be a viable and enviable income generating option for women, which is not really the case currently.”
The advice Lisa has for other young African girls is to keep trying.
“Failure sharpens us to become greater entrepreneurs. Keep in mind that there is no formula, no right way of doing things. Try different things until you make it and always stay connected and in touch with the community you are wanting to serve.”