If passion had an alternative spelling, it would be spelt Mweshi. As a Global Shaper (a World Economic Forum initiative) and alumna of the Young African Leaders Initiative Regional Leadership Center for Southern Africa and the Mandela Institute for Development Studies (MINDS), Mweshi Ng’andu has done a lot of work focused on engaging youth to uplift underprivileged and at risk children within her community. She has used her skills to mentor, give leadership talks, and mobilize resources to assist various shelters for children, orphanages, and schools.
Recently, she started Bloom, her own company working in the space of events management and marketing consultancy. Bloom focuses primarily on corporate and educational events and digital marketing. In this interview, this passion driven #MotherlandMogul takes us on a walk through her amazing journey so far.
Take us on a tour of what Bloom Events Management stands for.
Bloom is a young and innovative events management and marketing consultancy company. Our focus areas are corporate events management (everything from providing ushers, to catering, to sourcing speakers/industry experts, to venue scouting, to sponsorship engagement) and educational events. We create events for young professionals and students to learn how to advance their careers and to link them to the right people to help them create opportunities. We also develop innovative marketing techniques for companies through social media management and product promotions to name a few.
The events and festival industry has grown significantly and Bloom recognises this. What we offer is fresh and exciting as we aim to create distinctive and memorable events. Bloom is an expression of growth, a way to look back at where you’ve come from with a sincere admiration for the person that you have become today. Bloom will be an example of what you can expect to happen when young people come together to showcase their talents and ability.
What were the greatest challenges in building your business?
We are still in the first year of our business and as such, we are working on finding our ‘groove’. However, immediate challenges that come to mind are gaining the confidence of corporates. When two unknown young women walk into an office to pitch their services to a well-established bank or firm, you can always sense that the person you are pitching to has a little bit of doubt in your ability to actually deliver. Then there’s the competition. Bidding for tenders is tough!
Finding our unique selling point was extremely difficult, particularly in an industry where there is only so much you can offer. We realized that it is not so much about the services, but more about the way you deliver. And there’s finances; the first event we had, boy were we broke! So even completing it was a HUGE victory for us. Although it’s great to invest money into your business, you need to set boundaries as to how much of your personal resources you are putting in.
You are very passionate about young people, what are you doing to be better and get more young people involved.
Bloom offers opportunities for university students to learn a thing or two about what it means to manage tasks and to work with corporates. We specifically target enthusiastic young people who are looking to gain work experience and ask them to join our team on specific projects; this worked very well when we organized a TED event. One of the best things you can do for young people is to support their businesses!
Whenever we are working with a client and there is need to outsource, we try as much as possible to look for companies that are run by young people to offer services like photography or sound equipment. For educational events, whether it is a breakfast meet up or a seminar, we try as much as possible to cover topics that are relevant to the reality of being a young, Zambian professional. We make our events interactive and encourage lots of networking.It is not so much about the services, but more about the way you deliver - Mweshi Ng'andu Click To Tweet
As an avid traveller, global shaper, and emerging young leader, how has your experience reflected on your business style?
I joined the Global Shapers Community at a time in my life when I was looking for a way to do more and be more. The Community changed my life in ways I cannot even express. I became connected to a group of ambitious, hardworking and innovative young people. What I noticed about myself almost immediately is that my mindset dramatically changed. It was because of this community I quickly realize how as a proudly Zambian woman, I can have dreams to take on the world but still be so deeply rooted in where I am coming from and what I can do to add value.
Attending the World Economic Forum on Africa in 2015 and rubbing shoulders with some of the continent’s biggest power players made me think, how dare I not dream BIG? As a Shaper, I contributed to a book project featuring 80 incredible young Africans, offering their perspectives on entrepreneurship, leadership, culture, and ways in which we can transform the continent. It is because of experiences like this, that I am bold in my approach and I have a tendency to continuously ask myself how I can improve my business model and make it more relevant.
What has been the most difficult phase in your career and how did you scale through?
The most difficult phase was pinpointing exactly what I wanted to do and being confident in my capabilities. I could easily tell you that in ten years I wanted to be successful and financially stable. But I had a harder time telling you how. I overcame this in two ways.
Firstly, by establishing what it is I am passionate about. My answer is simple: it is people. In everything that I have done so far, the major thing has been connecting with people and sharing ideas in order to grow. Secondly, Wendy Lucas-Bull Chairperson of ABSA Bank once told me that with every little bit that you try, you gain more wisdom. You decipher the things that you don’t like and realize what you do. In a nutshell what I got out of this is that there will never be the right time to start your journey, you just have to summon the courage to do it and keep goingThere will never be the right time to start your journey, you just have to summon the courage Click To Tweet
Where do you see Bloom in the next three years?
Bloom will consist of a bright, innovative team that have led to it quickly positioning itself as a market lead. Hopefully, we will have a client base outside of Zambia as well. We also have dreams of building a big convention centre –so look out for that!
One advice for struggling start-up entrepreneurs in your field of business
Figure out what makes you unique, structure your business well, ask a lot of questions, and keep going!
Our tagline at Bloom is #BeAlwaysBlooming –so do just that!Figure out what makes you unique, structure your business well, ask a lot of questions, and keep going! Click To Tweet
At this stage, can you give up your business for a hundred millions dollars?
Absolutely not! Who doesn’t like a good story about trial and tribulations that ultimately lead to success? That is going to be my story and I want to know that I have earned it.
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