Meet the Khoja who is recognised among the top 50 women at Women In Management in Africa

 
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It is no secret that we live in a competitive society today where to make your mark; you need not only hard work but also smart work. Alhamdulillah, we have numerous shining stars in our Khoja community, both – men and women, who are making a difference within the community and across the regions, they reside in. One such star among them is Jamila Zulfikar Hemani, Founder and Managing Director of Dolson Interiors in Tanzania.

Read our exclusive interview with Jamila to get an insight into her inspiring story behind the foundation of Dolson Interiors, one of the leading names in customised Soft Furnishings in Tanzania.

About Jamila Hemani

Jamila Hemani grew up in Dubai and completed her Business diploma from the University of Wollongong. She could not complete her Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration since she got married before the final year of her course. Jamila told us that it’s a lifelong regret that she could not keep the promise she made to herself about completing her degree.

She says that learning is a continuous journey and is not confined to age or 3-4 years of university. Even though she continued to upgrade her skills relevant to her career with industry-specific courses and experience, that small piece of paper that a university gives upon graduation opens certain doors that would otherwise remain closed. It is the one thing that she would tell every person – especially girls in our community, to endeavor to complete at least a bachelor’s degree, even if they marry early.

Foundation and Inspiration for Dolson Interiors

According to Jamila, her kids – Saqalain and Sakina are her inspiration as they look up to her as their role model and recognise that her success translates into their success – both right now and in the future.

She is asked many a times why the name “Dolson”, and she says that the story behind the name is that the first time her late father Zulfikar Hemani applied for the business name to be registered in Dubai, he asked for ZulSon, as in Zulfikar & Son, however, the approval came back as Dolson. The rest, as they say, is history.

The family had a “Dolson” in Dubai while growing up, and they felt there was a gap for similar products and services in the Tanzanian market. After her second child, she felt the need to challenge and have a more significant impact around herself. She says that some right circumstances that came up at the right time led them to what they are today – the leading name in customised Soft Furnishings in Tanzania.

Growth and Challenges faced by Dolson Interiors

While discussing the challenges faced by Dolson, Jamila mentioned that “In a society where men are traditionally seen as business owners and operators, the challenge I faced early on was two-fold: one was ensuring suppliers, customers and employees, took me seriously especially since we had just started off. My second challenge was the realisation that every start-up goes through a stage where the owner is everything to the business – the manager, the accountant, the salesperson, the designer, and at times the stores’ keeper. Over time, we overcame both of these challenges. We made Dolson system-centric rather than people-centric, so even though a customised furnishing company needs a lot of hands-on work, all the repetitive tasks and daily operations were managed via a central database that managed all jobs.”

This approach of making Dolson system-centric established it well and earned the respect of its stakeholders and the business community, and over time, a company that had 80% women in senior management stopped facing any patronising or discriminatory attitudes.

The most important aspect of her work

She considers herself as the CMO (Chief Motivation Officer) of the company. Creating a ‘soulful’ work environment with vibrant energy is the most important aspect of her work as it ensures happiness and contentment for everyone at work – the ultimate objective of one’s work and one’s life.

The secret to her success

We asked her to share the secret behind her success, and she said, “If I had to pick a word, it would be perseverance. Ask any entrepreneur, and he/she will tell you how many times they have felt like throwing in the towel and giving up. I have found that when one sets the target as something beyond just the bottom line numbers, a business gives greater satisfaction and purpose. For example, what kept us going during the Covid-19 partial shutdown in March last year was recognising that 40 households or 120+ people depended on Dolson to keep their lights on – and that drove us to ensure nobody was fired because of the loss of business and we powered through. Of course, this is all only manageable when you have the right team around you that hold your hand through thick and thin.”

Achievements of Dolson Interiors

Dolson Interiors has been profiled for many publications and awards. The most recent notable one is being recognised among the Top 100 mid-size companies in Tanzania. Jamila also has the honour of being recognised among the Top 50 Women In Management in Africa (WIMA Tanzania).

Future plans for Dolson Interiors

Jamila plans for Dolson to become the leading furnishing house in East Africa. She plans to achieve it by focusing on other soft furnishing segments like flooring and decor and reaching out to dealers/distributors across Tanzania and neighbouring countries.

A few words of advice for our readers

We asked Jamila to mention a few words of advice for our readers, and she said, “It is what it is. Deal with it. The ups, the downs. Most of our stress comes with the way we respond and not the way life is. Smile. The commonly- used quote “Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it” is even more applicable to mothers who work full-time. External factors are very often beyond our control. What we can control is how we react to people and situations. So, I don’t think there are difficult days unless WE allow days to become difficult for us.”

The Khojanews team wishes Jamila and the Dolson Interiors Team all the very best for their future and pray to Allah (swt) to grant them success in their endeavors, Ameen

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