Where many thought Ndhlukula would fail, she surprised everybody by moving on to build a business which employees over 3500 people today across Zimbabwe, effectively surpassing all expectations. Traditionally, women in Africa are not noted for venturing into certain kinds of businesses especially security services but not Ndhlukula. Speaking to young entrepreneurs across the continent, Ndhlukula stated that the biggest obstacle she had to deal with was her gender. According to her, “obviously as woman, people could not believe that I could run a security company particularly with no security background.” With determination and purpose, Ndhlukula has now given an opportunity to over 900 women in her organisation. Here are key lessons we can learn from the Zimbabwean multi-millionaire;
Expand your reach
The challenge many entrepreneurs face on the continent has to do with expanding their reach to different markets. Many entrepreneurs are easily satisfied with their title “Local Champions” but that should not be the case. Aliko Dangote suggested, “If you do not have ambition, you shouldn’t be alive” and I agree with him absolutely. In a recent interview Ndhlukula granted the BBC, she stated, “If things are going according to her plans, she hopes that within five years Securico (her organisation) will have branches in neighboring countries and reach an annual turnover of more than $50m.” Expanding your business to different markets should not be undertaken without careful market analysis. As an entrepreneur, be certain you understand the basics of growing a multi-national business enterprise, that way, you won’t make certain basic mistakes as you expand into different territories and markets”.
2. Don’t only dream-set the dream in motion
After being chosen as one of Africa’s most successful entrepreneurs by Forbes Magazine, Ms. Ndhlukula disclosed to us that even as a student, she dreamed of being an entrepreneur. She stated, “When I was in school, I used to tell my friends that I was not going to work for more than two years.” Strive Masiyiwa, also a Zimbabwean businessman noted, “A vision on its own is not enough. Hard work and dedication is required to make that vision a reality.” Before Ndhlukula set up her security firm, she was a very business minded person who worked really hard. “During the time that I was working for these employers, I was obviously involved in various enterprising initiatives. Typically, I’d buy clothes from factories here in Harare and sell them to my colleagues at work, and also give them to my colleagues in other places, to sell on my behalf on commission,” Ms. Ndhlukula explained. If you are an aspiring entrepreneur, don’t end up a dreamer; end up a mover and shaker in your society- do something to make that dream a reality.
3. Begin small with a lot of passion
After following many successful entrepreneurs on the continent of Africa for some time, I have realized one common denominator associated with many of them. This has to do with the fact that majority of them started their businesses very small. Speaking to the BBC, Ndhlukula also revealed, “The biggest folly of people who aspire to be in business is that they think you have to have lots and lots of money to be able to start a business. No. it’s not that. It’s really the passion.” Even though she has now employed over 3500 people, she began with only three people including her. She began with very little capital but invested in her business wisely. If you are a young entrepreneur, take a cue from Ndhlukula, start that business idea with your limited capital but take note that when you begin to make profits; you should not spend lavishly on yourself, invest in the growth and expansion of your business.
In the end, she stated that apart from sometimes working 16 hours a day, she provides strategic direction by being visible always even though she has over 20 managers; this she advised will enable your employees easily buy into the vision of the company.
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About the Author, G.K. Sarpong
G. K. Sarpong is an author and founder of Christian Thinkers Community (CTC), a multidimensional organisation headquartered in Accra, Ghana. Sarpong also writes for several media firms across the continent of Africa and a guest writer and editor for various international journals and newsletters including Light Magazine Africa, The Revolution Journal and Christian Thinkers Journal. Sarpong has authored over seven books and hundreds of articles, some of which include Entrepreneurship Africa, Develop the Master in You, Building Success and Answers to Life’s Foundational Questions.