ZBIN is going to feature some of the inspiring stories from our ZBIN community. Starting a business in no easy stroll in the park, you face many hurdles and if you are not strong enough-you will give up! In this article, we cover one of the ladies I witnessed starting the entrepreneurship journey a few years ago. I remember our mentorship meeting at Garwe Restaurant in 2012 when we discussed about business and her plans for her newly established company. The good news is that at the time her future looked uncertain, the future outlook was bleak, however she persevered and her business dream has flourished resulting in her creating several job opportunities for Zimbabweans. We need more of these inspiring young people in business-they need support from government initiatives in order to help the economy grow and create many jobs. To our readers especially young women here is our advice:
YOUNG WOMEN CAN DO IT IN BUSINESS
Pauline did it and so can you! As a volunteer of ZBIN, Pauline will be assisting other young women persons interested in pursuing the entrepreneurship journey.
ZBIN will be travelling with Pauline to Beira in Mozambique next weekend as we explore more opportunities in the coastal region . Below are a couple of questions we posed to her and her responses.
1. Tell us about yourself
My name is Pauline Mkosi founder of Reactive Property Maintenance and Managing Director of Ecochem.
2. How long have you been in business?
I stated doing business since 2008 doing buying and selling. I once ventured into gold, had boutique shop, etc. And in 2012 I registered Reactive Property Maintenance that specializes in electrical installations and repairs, plumbing, welding, carpentry and construction. Today I am going to talk about Ecochem only.
3. Tell us about your business, opportunities and challenges
Every business has its challenges and opportunities.
a) Access to funding
c) Lack of mentors to show us the ropes
d) Work and life balance as a female entrepreneur
e) Lack of leadership experience
a) Export opportunities for example to other countries like Mozambique, Zambia, DRC and Malawi
b) We want to venture into contract cleaning services as a vertical integration strategy since many companies that offer cleaning services do not manufacture cleaning detergents.
c) We want also venture into retail industry and introduce environmentally friendly products.
4. Where did you get capital?
Nobody was willing to give me a start-up loan and if you do not have anything to your name, it is more difficult to get a loan. I was fortunate enough to have a supportive family, they helped me with startup capital and at first we sold our products on cash basis doing small packaging e. g 2L
5. How is it to be a young woman in business?
The road is bumpy and difficult but no one will stop or take away your dream and passion. Detergents manufacturing Industry is male dominated. It is difficulty for a female entrepreneur to succeed in a male-dominated industry and earning respect has been a struggle. But remaining true to yourself and finding your own voice are the keys to rising above preconceived expectations. One of the best things I’ve done to help myself in this area is joining a women entrepreneur training, Proweb Virgin Unite. Proweb has provided me with a mentor and peers to inspire me, hit me with reality checks on my capabilities and successes and help be grow and learn from their outside perspectives and experiences.
Work-life balance is a goal of many entrepreneurs regardless of their gender, but mothers who start businesses have to simultaneously run their families and their companies. And in this area, traditional gender expectations often still prevail. Being a mother while running a business is very challenging. “Mompreneurs” have dual responsibilities to their businesses and to their families, and finding ways to devote time to both is key to truly achieving that elusive work-life balance.
I have stopped worrying if people will treat me differently in business because of my gender and have stopped comparing myself to others, including men. The bottom line is, if you’re successful, no one cares whether you are man or a woman. Treat yourself as a business owner so others treat you the same way. Stop waiting for permission or recognition from others in order to feel entitled to your success.
6. Any plans to expand to other cities?
We are already in other cities. We deliver our products everywhere in Zimbabwe. For example, we supply MSU in Zvishavane, Rio Tinto Agric College in Gokwe, Mlezu college in Kwekwe, Chikangwe High School in Karoi, Kariba schools etc.
7. Many people are wondering why they should register their business, what is your message to them?
No one wants to deal with an unregistered person. For example when i started Ecochem,I didn’t have the SPB and no one wanted to do business with me and that was a barrier. I then started to sell to creches because no one wanted to buy from me. I managed to raise the money needed to register for vendor number and then for SPB. That’s when opportunities opened up and managed also to supply Zimbabwe National Army, Attorney General’s office and many other government departments.
8. How do you market your business? Is it effective?
We have Sales Reps who walk door to door to companies selling our products and doing demonstrations. We also market our products through our website, facebook page, and classifieds. We also market ourselves through word of mouth, referrals and networking.
9. Any message to the RBZ Governor who is busy with the Mid Year Monetary Policy compilation, what should be done for the small business
Mr Governor should include a budget for upcoming entrepreneurs and business people so as to encourage businesses to grow and to improve our economic challenges and reduce unemployment.
11. Lastly any advice to young people interested in setting up businesses
You need to have massive failure to have massive success. You may need 100 ‘NOs’ to get one ‘YES,’ but that one ‘YES’ will make you more successful tomorrow than you were today.” Fight for what you believe is right and have confidence in your ability to succeed despite adversity.” You too can do it, you just need to take the first step and never look back.
Do not miss a Facebook Live feature of Pauline on ZBIN at a date to be advised after the Beira Trip.
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