Janet Mbene

Janet Mbene

Synergos Senior Fellow & Deputy Minister, Finance of Tanzania

Janet Mbene is Deputy Minister of Finance of Tanzania. She is also founder of SIA Limited, a private firm that provides capacity-building support for small and medium enterprises.

Ms. Mbene has a rich history in development economics, banking, and international and regional trade. Her diverse background includes leadership positions in the private sector and in the United Nations before joining the non-profit sector. Prior to leading Mwengo, Ms. Mbene worked with Oxfam International, the UN Development Program, the International Labor Organization, and several international nongovernmental organizations. Her work focused on mobilizing producers and entrepreneurs into associations, building their capacity to improve production and manage their enterprises better, facilitating access to markets, campaigning for better conditions through dialogue with relevant authorities, and promoting fair trade policies. She has also led rights and empowerment programs for women and youth, particularly in advocacy, training in legal concepts and instruments, and microfinance and income-generation.

Ms. Mbene has also interspersed her career with short-term consultancies around entrepreneurship development (e.g. with TechnoServe in 2007); research and analysis around rural microfinance services (e.g. with the Economic and Social Research Foundation in Tanzania); and financial services to small and medial enterprises (e.g. with a project of the Austrian government in Tanzania).

Alongside her work with SIA Limited, Ms. Mbene is also the founder and chairperson of YATIMA Trust on HIV/AIDS in Tanzania, which provides support for children who were orphaned or partially orphaned by HIV/AIDS and advocates for policy changes protecting orphans and orphanages. She is also a founding Trustee of the Association of Women Economists in Tanzania, promoting economic literacy and empowerment of particularly rural women.

Ms. Mbene has a Master's degree in economics from the University of New England in Australia.

SIA Limited aims to contribute to poverty eradication and sustainable growth support and promote entrepreneurs leading small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in Tanzania, and to contribute to the policy dialogue on SMEs and rural development in Tanzania. SIA targets start-up entrepreneurs in rural and urban areas, as well as local government bodies working with local communities in need of planning, implementation, and monitoring and evaluation capacities.

Additionally, Ms. Mbene serves as chairperson for Getting Old is to Grow (GOIG), an NGO involved in advocacy around aged-people, which also supports vocational training centers in handicraft work for youth, as well as a project for orphans left in the care of their grandparents. She co-founded an NGO to offer support to home based orphans living with relatives.