Zainab Ansell – Tanzanian woman behind pro-poor tourism business model

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Zainab Ansell – Tanzanian woman behind pro-poor tourism business model

Innovation of an apt and sustainable business model to transfer tourist’s dollars to the hundreds of poor women has paid dividends to a Tanzanian female tour operator.

Ms Zainab Ansell was awarded during the Global Gender Summit (GGS) 2019 held in Kigali, Rwanda, in recognition of her innovation and sustainable business model that has uplifted and impacted hundreds of marginalized women in the tourism host communities of Tanzania.

“Congratulations to Zainab Ansell, Winner of the Invest2impact for creating jobs, improving lives, fight climate change, within her communities” writes Impact Award, the organizers.

Ms Zainab is the founder and CEO of Tanzania based Zara International Travel Agency (ZITA), who is single-handedly struggling to address historical injustice compounded by oppression and exploitation towards women in Northern Tanzania’s Maasai community.

She is credited with having developed a special window for helping underprivileged Maasai women in her bid to liberate them from poverty, courtesy of the harmful shackles of their traditional norms, by financially empowering these women to buy raw materials for making beads and crafts, which they sell, to tourists.

Through her women’s development center, hundreds of Maasai women benefit from the tourism sector as it gives them an opportunity to showcase and sell beads and carvings along the routes to Tanzania’s most popular tourist sites.

This initiative has grown to become a strong pillar for the women and this particular host community at large.

Ms Zainab established a local Zara Tanzania Adventures (Alias Zara Tours) way back in 1986 in Moshi, Tanzania to provide high quality travel and tour services in East Africa. Now Zara has great experience with over 30 years regions Travel and Tourism industry.

Today, Zara has evolved into Tanzania’s largest Kilimanjaro outfitter and one of the largest safari operators in the East Africa. Zara is a one-stop shop offering experiences and accommodation in Tanzania’s tourism hotspots.


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In 2009 the company launched Zara Charity, giving back to marginalized communities in Tanzania and making it’s footprint in the global movement for sustainable tourism development.

Zara charity supports marginalized communities in Tanzania’s tourism host communities addressing health care, education, unemployment, women and children

Zara has been widely recognized for it’s efforts in promoting Sustainable Tourism Development in Africa, as its founder Ms Zainab is a multi-award winner having received over 13 local and international awards; among them, the World Travel Market (WTM) Humanitarian Award and the Business Entrepreneur of the Year Award (2012), the iconic Tourism for The Future Awards(2015), African Travel top 100 Women.

She has been recognized and awarded for being the Most Influential Woman in Business and Government by CEO Global for her achievements in East Africa’s Tourism and Leisure Sector 2018/2019 during the CEO GLOBALPan African Awards; Tanzania National Parks has also recognized Zara Tours as Tanzania’s best Tour Operator (2019).

Zara has impacted thousands of lives in Tanzania directly employing 1,410 people on both permanent and seasonal basis, sustaining thousands of families in a country with a relatively high unemployment rate.

Tanzania Association of Tour Operators (TATO), CEO, Mr Sirili Akko said his association is proud of the ZITA Founder and CEO for her generous heart to support the underprivileged.

Author: George Taylor

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