Portrait of Asha D. Abinallah

Asha D. Abinallah

Tell us a bit about yourself, e.g. your background, your interests.

My names are Asha D. Abinallah (alternatively called as AshaDii). I am passionate about being part of Impact for my nation, Tanzania, and thus I understand that achieving that, requires for me to always have a mindset that is solution-oriented and focused. This mentality has made me really open to constant learnings, collaborations and partnerships that align to what we do as a person and organisation. I am happy that we can monitor, measure and evaluate our work and see tangible impact. This makes documenting a huge part of our internal programs.

To achieve that which my vision as a person and as a Company, we embrace a lot of Technology. We have positioned ourselves as Advocates for Digital Transformation and Adaptation for emerging and applied technologies. With the pace of how technology is changing we try our best to go with the same pace. This dedication has made me privileged to be an award winner of Women in Management Africa Award (2022), the category of STEM and the Pan-African Women Economic Summit (2022) the category of STEM.

The question "tell us about yourself" consistently brings me a sense of humility and serves as a reminder that I am continuously striving to discover the finest version of who I am. With each passing year, I come to recognize that while my professional ambitions remain important, my mindset and influence undergo constant evolution. I find myself faced with the significant challenge of striking a balance between staying true to my authentic self and actively pushing beyond my comfort zone, always keeping pace with my responsibilities as one of the fortunate individuals who have a role to play in giving back to my country and society as a whole.

My educational journey has been a bit of a reversal approach. I am a late bloomer and a beneficiary of a system that allowed a girl who is a mother to go back to school. I never appreciated or understood the value of education until when I become a mother, I realised I really wanted to go back to school. So, I did, repeated my form four exams in 2006, passed in all the five repeated subjects, then completed my A-level at Sangu Secondary School (Mbeya) in 2007 where I passed and was selected for a graduate degree at the University of Dar es Salaam and completed in 2010.  Currently, I just acquired my Master’s Degree in New Media from the University of Leeds in the United Kingdom where I had attended for one year (2019/20). I have done a lot of other intensive courses in Research, Internet Governance, Digital Skills, Data and Visualisation, Business Management programs implemented in Uganda, Kenya, German, Sweden and the one-year Advanced course in “Media Development in a democratic framework” implemented by the Fojo Institute, Linnaeus University in Sweden.
I am a mother of two. In my spare time I love reading books, watching movies, studying political trends from netizen engagement and learning the new trends in technology especially at country level.
What have you been doing since finishing your studies? What are you doing in terms of your career? 

Immediately after completing my Masters, it gave me confidence to resign at my prior place of work because of incurred challenges internally and founded a Startup, Tech & Media Convergency (TMC). TMC is a Multidisciplinary ICT cored startup that appraises Information and applies Technological Innovations and Applications that provide impactful Digital Solutions. The inspiration behind is based on the fact that ICT is no longer optional in today's world, there are an abundance of challenges to conquer. For prosperity and development at an individual or organisational level, attributes of ICT are key; of which in our country there is a huge gap to fill within the sector by applying Innovation, Technology and Digital (services and products). I was pushed by an ambition within me to spearhead a vision that could be easily shared, understood and accepted by any believer in technology, development, transformation and impact. 

What company are you working for, what is your role, and what does it involve?

I am working full time with Tech & Media Convergency (TMC), and my role as the Leader is Making the Vision sustainable by working with the team who have been instrumental in making the vision a reality, one step at a time. TMC was registered in September 2020 but its operations started in January 2021. Since its establishment, the Startup has done a three month-mentorship and Capacity Building on Digital Inclusion each year to young girls of over 120 young females in collaboration with DW Akademie and Internews (USAID Program), we have reached to University and Secondary Students to almost 2000, we have accelerated 35 non-profits in collaboration with Meta, we spotlighted and showcased over 60 fellow startups that are providing Innovative solutions drawing from the local context in the country. We have also published over 8 resources that draws from our learnings and that which occur in the ICT landscape at national and regional level.

What experiences at Leeds do you think have particularly helped with your career?

The career fair day was very interesting for me. It has insights on how things are done in the Tech and Media ecosystem in the UK particularly in Leeds. Having been in the working industry already, it added value for it was relatable to the experience I already had in my previous position.  Most importantly the classes and digital practice courses. 

Why did you choose to study your particular course? Why did you choose the University of Leeds?

I liked the course outline especially all the courses that had Digital Practices (60% of the course). As a leader, sometimes you work as a coordinator of what has to be achieved by tasking your team. It is easier to identify the right tasks for an individual if you understand the work in detail. I was very keen and careful when selecting a course when I was applying, and thus chose it deliberately because it would add value to my work. Although, I never really understood to what extent it would be valuable because by then, I never really had thought of starting my own startup.

What aspects of the course did you enjoy the most?

I loved engaging lectures, I love the kind of classes where you get to learn from the lecturer and fellow students. It really gives reach insights and thus easier to understand and apply things. 

Did you work closely with a particular tutor or member of the University’s academic staff? Tell us about that experience. 

Yes. With my dissertation. 

What activities outside of your studies were you involved in?

I didn’t do much of the outside activities. My plan was to do a lot of sight seeing in the early months (in the final stages of my Masters). It was very unfortunate that the COVID19 pandemic hit and everything changed. We travelled immediately back home to Tanzania in March 2020. The rest is history.

What would you say to students thinking about studying your course?

For those interested and fascinated by the dynamic relationship between old and new media, and how technology has significantly shaped the production, publication, and consumption of news, along with digital practices, media policies, applied and emerging technologies, and the overall media landscape, then look no further. This course offers a comprehensive exploration of these interconnected themes. It has added a lot to my career and to Tech and Media Convergency (TMC).

What does Leeds as a city have to offer students?

Endless opportunities. Speaking as an African descent, in most cases I see it differently compared to someone let’s say from the UK or Developed countries. The secret lies in a student to realise the potential that Leeds holds. Everything to me was a learning opportunity, the culture, simple things such as always being on time and how nothing/nobody waits for no one. Most of the pleasurable things are sometimes those we take for granted, how everything is very well organised to the dot and you can plan schedules in advance. Nevertheless, the three things that stood out for me were; the diverse student community at campus, it was always possible to find your tribe (in the sense of a community of similar likes/preferences) - networking globally with your fellow scholars who come from all over the world was an important aspect and as a Chevening Scholar it was easy access, I loved the learning environments and library, it was excellent and also really enjoyed the shopping and dining at the wonderful shopping centres where you could get from affordable to high-end shopping experiences.