Mrs. Helen Lema is an experienced manager who started up a printing press business in 2002.
Printing presses serve a crucial role in Tanzania, where computers are still relatively rare. They are used to print books, papers and official forms for businesses and public institutions like schools.
Mrs. Lema received a master’s degree in economics in 1974. She spent the next four years working for the East African Community, an international political bloc that at the time comprised Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda. When it disbanded in 1978, she joined a local audit firm as a consultant. To date, she has over 30 years of practical accounting and management experience.
In 2002, she purchased a second-hand printing press and started Paper Allied Products, operating on the Arusha grounds of the radio station she co-owns with her husband. In the first six years of operation, she built working relationships with major tour companies, secondary schools and small businesses throughout the Arusha region.
However, the printing press was ageing, leading to inconsistent quality that was threatening the business. Mrs. Lema also wanted to increase capacity so that she could expand her sales territory into Moshi. Despite her extensive background in management and finance, she could not meet the stringent working capital requirements of local banks. EFA’s investment of $6,200 allowed Mrs. Lema to maintain the business and helped her to scale up.
The new printing press and electronic binder-perforator are working well, and the business has hired five new full-time employees and three new casual labourers. She completed repayments in December 2011.