Gender Equality & Inclusion

Irene Muja

CEO & Founder of Mabaki Mali

CEO & Founder of Mabaki Mali


Irene Muja is a gender and youth activist, an entrepreneur and social innovator in the recycling environment sector who has established Mabaki Mali Social Enterprise, which deals with recycling of waste tires into furniture, garden decorations and recreational items.

After completing her B.A in International Business and PGD in Project Management, she was not able to secure a job and decided to use the knowledge taught by her grandmother which turned out to be a passion on making materials from waste to start low cost eco-friendly furniture. At first, it was challenging because she had no capital and sold few of her old clothes to get money to start a business. Despite of all the criticism in the community saying furniture business is for males, in less than a year she was able to train and employ two youth who were living in a difficult environment as a way to help them sustain in their basic daily needs. Today, Mabaki Mali eco-friendly products are being used by embassies, offices, schools, events, households, restaurants, bars and are accepted in the community.

After this success, Irene joined forces with six young CEOs to create Young Women Entrepreneurs. It is a social enterprise with the aim of accelerating the growth and internationalization of young women-owned businesses and to facilitate business exchanges, cross‐border, cross‐industry and partnerships among young women entrepreneurs across the world. Furthermore, it aims to inspire and empower women interested in entrepreneurship. Coming from different backgrounds, they want to share how entrepreneurship can be established and show that it is not exclusive to certain income classes. Instead, it means integrating talents with diverse interests in order to take risks and develop a business venture.

Their goal is to enhance creative talents so as to get opportunities for young women to develop their entrepreneurial skills: through trainings, exhibitions, conferences and networking opportunities. They inspire young entrepreneurs, beneficiaries and stakeholders to never give up, no matter the circumstance they are facing in life. And to eventually expand and enter into the international market.

A lesson cultured from Irene’s story is that despite women being so integral to every aspect of life, they still live in an era of stereotyped model of leadership: “A leader is assumed to be a male; and assertive women are considered masculine, while being assertive is the most feminine attribute (haven't we heard a tigress guard her cubs?). A woman who speaks her mind and wears a business suit by default is considered not a feminine enough. A community perceives a powerful woman is a man. In African society, women represent the largest unserved market in the business so it is the biggest challenge. Women should come out from their comfort zone and stand out as a leader. I do believe that embracing the power of the feminine will bring social and economic stability in not only our community but also worldwide,” says Irene.

Irene is fully aware of sustainable development goals and she argues that it is irrational sitting back and waiting for the world we want. The responsibility rests on the shoulders of everyone who has an opportunity to influence the world’s direction: “Women’s voices must be heard, and we need men to champion gender equality and women's empowerment in business leadership, challenging the starts to ensure more women in business.”

Irene was able to be recognized locally and internationally as

- International Speaker at The Real She Power in Nigeria on 27th and 28th March 2020.

- Top 4 in the Creative Enterprise Program organized by the British Council, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, from 16th to 20th October, 2019.

- Top 8 Winners of Business Plan Innovation Challenge under Tanzania Digital Innovation Youth Empowerment Project at COSTECH on 6 September 2019.

- First Winner as Best Innovative Product at International Trade Fair Award, for the Tanzanian Women Chambers of Commerce held in Tanzania from 28 June to 13 July 2019

- Finalist on Tujenge Innovation Challenge, Organized by Unleashed Africa, May, 2019.

- Third Position at Environment Sector for Thamani Ya Mwanamke na Ajira Binafsi, 1st May in Tanzania, 2019.

- First Position in Special Talent Search Awards, organized by Stara Fashion Show in Tanzania on 26 April 2019.

- Nominated as Smart Cities and Innovation; Certified 3 months incubator program with World Business Angels Investment Forum on 20 September 2018 in Accra, Ghana.

- Third Position in Entrepreneurship Organizations Global Student Entrepreneurship Awards on 20 November 2018 in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.

- Most Inspirational Woman at Environment Category in the Month of July 2018 recognized by Raising up Friendship at Channel 10 in Tanzania.

- Second Position of Best African Brand at African Creativity Exhibition and Awards in Nigeria, 28 April 2018.

- Most Passionate delegate in Nilai University Model United Nation Closed Conference Malaysia in March 2013.