Empowering Women and Communities Through Inclusive Business Practices

In Tanzania and Kenya, entrepreneurs like Felistus Issangya and Benson Wando are adopting inclusive business practices to transform lives and entire communities.

Felistus Issangya, CEO and Founder of Feda Foods in Tanzania, learned inclusive practices from TechnoServe.

Felistus Issangya, a forward-thinking entrepreneur, noticed a troubling trend in Tanzanian cities. Obesity rates across the country were rising due to limited healthy snack options. Inspired by the World Health Organization’s data, she saw a business opportunity that would also empower local communities and smallholder farmers, especially women.

In 2016, Felistus started Feda Foods, a company with a mission to revolutionize the snack industry in Tanzania. Today, Feda Foods provides nutritious snacks made from locally sourced nuts like cashews, peanuts, and almonds. The company’s business model sells through both B2B channels and online platforms, ensuring accessibility and affordability for low- and middle-income consumers.

Developing Inclusive Business Practices

From the beginning, inclusivity was at the core of Felistus’ vision for Feda Foods. She actively sought to empower women by providing employment opportunities, using inclusive sourcing practices, participating in capacity-building programs, and leading community engagement efforts. She also integrated gender equality into her company’s business model. 

Inclusive business practices that empower women have many benefits. They enrich women’s lives, the organizations they are part of, and society. Inclusive practices combine ethical considerations with strategic business advantages. By fostering diversity and inclusion within their operations, companies that apply inclusive business practices gain access to a broader range of perspectives and ideas, fueling creativity, innovation, and competitive advantage. 

TechnoServe is working with entrepreneurs like Felistus through the Implementing Inclusive Growth Strategies (IIGS) program funded by the Visa Foundation. IIGS addresses supply chain constraints and promotes inclusivity, especially for women, within key supply chains. The project targets small and medium enterprises in Kenya and Tanzania through the development of inclusive business plans.

A Tangible Difference

Learning to develop an inclusive business plan has had far-reaching benefits for Felistus and her community. She now sources from women smallholder farmers and traders when possible, helping them achieve broader market access. Meanwhile, by buying directly from local smallholder farmers, Felistus has reduced her business costs and increased her revenue by 56% between 2022 and 2023. 

Feda Foods is providing Tanzanians with affordable, diverse, and healthy snack options, which has led to better eating habits and improved health. As the company continues to innovate and expand its reach, its impact on communities across Tanzania is a testament to the transformative power of inclusive business practices.

Soko Kijiji: Empowering Women in Kenya’s Marketplaces

Across the border in Kenya, Benson Wando embarked on a similar journey with the founding of Soko Kijiji. His venture was born out of a deep understanding of the challenges faced by local market women, particularly Mama Mbogas, who are informal vendors who sell mostly fruits and vegetables. Mama Mbogas often struggled with market closures and economic uncertainty, particularly during the pandemic.

Driven by his mother’s experience as a Mama Mboga, Benson set out to create opportunities for women like her through Soko Kijiji. What initially began as a home delivery service for fruits and vegetables has evolved to incorporate partnerships with foundations and impact investors. This has increased the social impact of Soko Kijiji.

Benson Wando, CEO and Co-Founder of Soko Kijiji (Benson Wando)
Benson Wando, CEO and Co-Founder of Soko Kijiji (Benson Wando)

Through strategic partnerships and innovative initiatives, Soko Kijiji empowers women by providing employment opportunities, capacity-building programs, community engagement, and safe working environments. Benson’s commitment to gender equality and women’s empowerment was evident in every aspect of Soko Kijiji’s operations.

The tangible benefits of Soko Kijiji’s initiatives were evident in the increased economic empowerment, market access, skills development, and improved nutrition experienced by women smallholder farmers, traders, and consumers. As Soko Kijiji continues to expand its reach and impact, its story inspires businesses striving to create positive change in their communities.

The Lasting Impact of Inclusive Business Practices

The stories of Feda Foods and Soko Kijiji exemplify the power of inclusive business practices in empowering communities and driving social change. By prioritizing inclusivity, empowerment, and social impact, Felistus and Benson have demonstrated how businesses can be catalysts for positive change, transforming lives and communities for the better. As we celebrate their journeys, let us draw inspiration and continue to champion inclusivity and empowerment in all aspects of business and society.


Monica Githige is a program manager at TechnoServe Kenya. Liz Kariuki is a regional communications manager at TechnoServe.