An innovative fashion business to preserve Tanzanian culture
Due to the huge international influence on Tanzanian fashion market Msafiri felt as a part of Tanzanian culture was lost. He wanted to do his part in preserving his culture – and his business idea was born.
Msafiri Raphael attended a Bachelor of Commerce in Finance at Dar es Salaam Business School and graduated in 2016. The first time he appeared in our office, he had his iPad and smartphone in his hands, wearing a sort of traditional African material but still fashioned t-shirt, and seemed to be busy and distracted. However, when we started our conversation it became clear that his general appearance was a clever move to guide our views towards his clothing. He was challenging our intuitive thinking by appearing like a busy sales-person but wearing traditional fabric clothes.
During our conversation Msafiri explained that he started a small tailor’s shop in Dar es Salaam market district Mwenge after he graduated. Throughout his studies he dreamed of working in a big international corporation leaving his home town or even Tanzania. However, as he graduated the opportunities to find a job in a big corporation were very low. He and his fellow students were struggling to find jobs and thus many of them were pushed to make use of their own business ideas. Msafiri was born in a small town close to Moshi. His father was a tailor, which affected Msafiri’s early understanding of clothing and dressing. Throughout his childhood he learned to distinguish good and bad materials. He developed his own understanding of how clothes should fit to their wearer. However, when he started his Bachelor in Dar es Salaam he recognized different international influences on the Tanzanian clothes market. Second-hand clothes from Europe were sold on Dar es Salaam markets and shaped the fashion in the city. This gave Msafiri the feeling of losing a part of Tanzanian culture. He thus developed the idea to produce customized fashion using European cuts and traditional Tanzanian fabrics.
Shortly before Msafiri graduated, he decided to make use of his idea. As his father had some contacts in Dar es Salaam, it was quite easy for Msafiri to start. First, he had one tailor who was tailoring the clothes for him. Msafiri was doing the marketing, getting customers and discussing the different cuts and fabrics with them. After he graduated he tried to scale up his plans. Second, he was looking for a shop close to a crowded market region in Mwenge. After his customer base was big enough and his tailor was overstrained by the different orders, Msafiri decided to employ two other tailors. As his shop was located very close to the market, Msafiri was able to look for different fabrics with his customers without needing his own big fabric stock. In his first business year Msafiri produced dresses, suits, bags and all kinds of clothes. He combined “western” trends and traditional Tanzanian fabrics which gave his designs a very special touch.
Today Msafiri empoys six tailors in his small shop in Mwenge. By producing about 100 different customized clothes per month, Msafiri’s shop has a monthly turnover of about 3.5 million TZS. His own monthly salary is about 500.000 TZS which equates to an average monthly salary of a big corporation. In early 2017 Msafiri started to produce his first non-customized products for foreign markets. Due to international contacts he made at university, he received the possibility to send clothes abroad and immerge in new markets. The STEP training gave Msafiri the opportunity and skills to make use of his business idea. Today, he can be seen as a very successful entrepreneur, knowing his market and designing a sustaining business strategy. In our call he mentioned that he will have some problems in further scaling his business in the future, as tailored fashion is very individual and requires a lot of customer service. However, he also stated that through the knowledge he gained by attending the STEP training, he will be able to enhance his business model and strategy.
+49 4134 9099726
+49 4134 9099726