A group of women called She Means Business (SMB) recently held an exhibition and awards ceremony in Harare where outstanding individuals from the group received awards for excelling in their business ventures.
“SMB is a group of humble beginnings that started on Facebook with the intention of motivating and encouraging each other that nothing could stop a woman from finding her own way to financial independence,” said Michelle Chikanda, Founder of SMB. She also explained that after the first edition of the awards held in 2014, she realised there was a growing interest in the group as membership increased from a little over 1,000 to over 6,000 members in less than twelve months.
Chikanda formed the Facebook group in 2012 after realising that most business groups based on social media focused on advertising products but none involved motivation and sharing of business ideas especially for women.
Renowned entrepreneur, author and motivational speaker, Elizabeth Magaya who was the special guest of the event, encouraged all the women to work towards their goals even under difficult circumstances. “To excel in life you need to have a personal mission statement that will guide you to focus on what you want to achieve in life,” said Magaya. “That statement will help you create a successful business.” She also spoke about the importance of good customer care and good financial behaviour in working towards becoming a successful business person.
Magaya shared that in her experience in business, lack of planning and market research were some of the main factors that have contributed to failure. “Venturing into flooded business sectors is more challenging because there is more competition. Be innovative enough to make something new that will only be unique to you and your business, she added.
Also present was MP for Harare West, Jessie Majome whose address offered a legal angle to business which many women overlook. She advised women to register their businesses and assets in their own names or to have their names included if they were part-owners of family businesses. “Plan your own estates by writing your own will that will determine who gets what when you pass on,” said Majome.“You do not want your children to suffer because someone has taken what you left for them.”
Uzilla Hove of Uzi’s Kitchenware scooped the SMB ‘Most Innovative Diaspora’ Award while Angela Wagoneka walked away with two awards: the SMB ‘Most Innovative Zimbabwe’ Award and the SMB ‘Most Promising Newcomer’ Award. Another SMB ‘Most Promising Newcomer’ Award went to Faustina Mutake, founder of St Theresa Pre-School. The overall winner for 2014 was Bridget Sibanda, owner and Founder of Even-Hand Cosmetics, who received the SMB ‘Overall Business Woman’ Award.
Victoria Chiware, winner of the ‘Business Woman of the Month’ Award for October 2014, admitted that the award came as a surprise to her as she had not expected anyone to be observing her business achievements. “This award has reminded me that anything is possible if you stay connected to your vision and I have been challenged to work even harder,” said an excited Chiware.
Florence Maphosa, winner of the SMB ‘Overall Business Woman’ Award for 2014 said that she had benefited from the SMB network as she had experienced a 25% increase in revenue since she introduced her business to the group.
“I started off my poultry business with eighty chicks but I have been able to increase my knowledge and experience enough to mentor three other women who I have influenced to start their own poultry projects”, explained Maphosa.
Eleven women were awarded for being outstanding businesswomen for each month of 2014, except for April. In that instance, the panel of judges decided that none of the members had met the criteria for the monthly awards. “We have a panel of judges that selects winners based on the performances of their businesses and on their participation and contribution to the group,” explained Chikanda.
Winners received trophies, certificates and gift hampers. SMB’s membership comprises Zimbabwean women based in the country and in the diaspora, which is why some of the awards are dedicated to women who live abroad. Currently, the group has a total membership of 6,825 with about 4,000 active members.
During the exhibition, several women showcased their products which was the group’s way of facilitating networking between the business women, potential clients and business partners. The exhibition was also open to members of the public who were welcome to come and exhibit or buy products. Most of the exhibitors were in the manufacturing and retail clothing, cosmetics and soft furniture industries. A sizable number were also in market gardening, horticulture, real estate and consultancy services.
All photographs are the property of Daphne Jena.