With 50 percent of women in Sub-Saharan Africa still tethered to the land and struggling to make a living, a new development on Unguja Island in Zanzibar, Tanzania, is set to offer financial stability and an unusual career option.
Khuluka Hamisi Haji, a 68-year-old grandmother, used to support her family, including her sight-afflicted husband, by selling home-cooked snacks in her village. “Some days I was successful but other days I sold nothing,” she shares. This precarious subsistence living came to an end when she began assisting a local mason with bricklaying and with her experience, landed a job at Pennyroyal Ltd’s Blue Amber Zanzibar, an extensive and long-term development set on over 400 hectares on the northeastern coast of Unguja, the main island of the Zanzibari archipelago.
Khuluka’s income is now steady, and she has inspired other women to move away from an erratic home industry income or working the land for little return. Khuluka has taken 27-year-old Aisha John Nyangiriki under her wing. The young woman is a single mother with two young children and as a construction worker, is now able to pay school fees and rent a house for them.
“I read a recent Brookings Africa Growth Initiative report (AGI) which stated that despite the increase in women working in industry and services in Sub Saharan Africa over the past decade, a full 50 percent were still working in agriculture,” says Grant Anderson, CEO of Blue Amber Zanzibar. “As an equal opportunity employer with several women on our construction team, we’re proud to be part of a significant change.”
The crew of female construction workers who are contributing to the development of Blue Amber Zanzibar have made the transition from what they believed was their traditional role, to creating a hub where their contributions are both valuable and supportive to the building industry. In addition to actual construction work, there are other aligned opportunities at Blue Amber Zanzibar that benefit women.
Construction work is a hungry business, and for 32-year-old Margaret Nakumolwa, the Blue Amber Zanzibar site kitchen, which provides meals for the on-site teams, proved a boon for her cooking and selling skills. She has been able to pay for her two children’s school fees and help her parents buy a tract of land. She hopes to make this land the site of her own new home one day. “I would encourage women who are determined at heart to plan more for their futures,” she advises.
“I believe it’s critically important today that a project such as ours is more than an exciting investment opportunity with substantial tax and residency benefits, but also an equal opportunity employer that directly benefits local communities!” Anderson declares. “Across the world, in a post-Covid environment, people are linking their decisions to travel or purchase holiday homes with ethical business practices. There seems to be a growing mindfulness of tourist destinations and properties that make a real and positive impact on the development of a local community.”
The first Blue Amber Zanzibar residential units, set to be completed by December 2022, will offer investors architecturally designed pool villas with a choice of 2,3 or 4 bedrooms. The forward vision over the next 15 years includes extensive development encompassing hotels, wellness centres, and eco-sensitive golfing options that tread lightly on the earth.
More significantly, with over ten communities in the project area, the women who are helping to build the development’s foundations, have become architects of a secure future for their families. A future that will also include further and ongoing job opportunities in the hospitality and services sector once construction at Blue Amber Zanzibar is complete.