Nomvelo Chalumbira: There are endless possibilities available to millennials now than there previously were

‘Lazy…entitled…’? Enough with the name calling!

Because some bold young ladies are challenging the way some describe millennials, and Africa is already celebrating their work!

Nomvelo Chalumbira, 23, recently graduated from Wits University where she studied journalism and is currently interning at Reuters Africa.

She is also the co-founder of Melenial Media, a digital-content platform created by two young black women, for young black women, with the aim of empowering them and supporting the great work they are doing in different spheres of society.  

What started as a blog is growing into a great media brand, and with a prestigious award already on their shelf, we thought we should get into the psyche of this aspiring media mogul, and also asked her to share some of her work with us.

What made you decide to start early, co-founding Melenial Media while still studying?

I wasn’t entirely sure what I wanted to do after university and felt that my degree had not prepared me for the job market, but I was always interested in media, and after doing a blog with my friends for a year, I wanted to start something that represented me and other black millennial women.

My passion was to be a part of the change of the media landscape in South Africa and not rely on building a career at already-established media companies.

In my third year, my current partner and I saw a huge gap in the market of voices of millennial women of color, and thus Melenial Media was founded.

There is no set path to success Click To Tweet







Millennials have been called many (not so great) names, such as ‘the Me, Me, Me Generation”, as expressed in an article by a reputable magazine. What are your thoughts about this?

Times are very different and things are being done very differently. Many traditional industries have been disrupted and altered to suit the needs of the current generation.

For instance, the media industry is becoming more digital and fast-paced. We must all keep up with the new.

As an article in the Atlantic put it very well, “every generation has been a me, me, me generation”, so what is new?

How did you go from blogging to having an award winning media brand? What drives you as an entrepreneur?

It hasn’t been easy! Building a business has taught me discipline and perseverance, especially juggling studying full-time and doing Melenial. But, I absolutely love what I do and having the privilege to do what I love every day is a great blessing.

That has helped me get through the tough times, knowing that the reward is sweeter than the sweat. We try our best to be consistent and put out the best content.

Entrepreneurship is challenging but I have a great family support system. What’s even more exciting is being able to be a part of the advancement and empowerment of black women.

Please share some of your photojournalism work with us:


More Than a Barcode: Like identity, our sense of place is fluid; it changes as the place changes and as we change. One’s sense of place becomes part of their identity, and one’s identity affects the ways we define and experience a place. Therefore in the construction of identities, part of what one does is to instill place with meaning by attaching memories and experiences to the place.


Serene yet Strong: Mammy Setshogo fulfilling her regular duties of looking after and running a tavern household in Soweto. Here she is washing the household’s clothes and she looks serene, regal, strong and beautiful whilst doing a mundane chore.




How does Melenial Media aim to empower millennials and change such narratives about them?

Melenial Media showcases a diverse range of women doing great things in their respective fields. We are breaking down the stereotype and notion that there is one type of black woman.

The content you find on our site is interesting, fresh and relatable – not only to millennials but to any generation. We showcase that there is no set path to success.

Melenial Media shows that anything is possible if you believe enough in your vision.

We are breaking down the stereotype and notion that there is one type of black woman - @nomvelo_c Click To Tweet

From the work you have done so far with millennials, what potential do you think they have to make Africa even greater?

There are endless possibilities available to Millennials than there previously were. This makes the potential to do great things even greater.

With information, access, and opportunities available at our fingertips, millennials are creating their own opportunities and path.

Africa is a wealthy goldmine of opportunities and it’s all about seizing the moment and just going for it. And that is exactly what millennials are doing. They are not afraid to take a chance and create their own realities that suit them.

Africa is a wealthy goldmine of opportunities and it’s all about seizing the moment and just going for it. Click To Tweet

You won the ‘2016 Top Youth Culture Blog in Africa’ award in such a short space of time. What does the award mean to you and Melenial Media?

It was a humbling milestone to have reached in such a short time. It has made us realize that we are creating a sustainable business that is making a difference and contributing positively to society.

What we have created is something quite relevant in the current South African media landscape. We have started something unique, which I am extremely proud of.

...anything is possible if you believe enough in your vision. Click To Tweet

Got an article or a story to share with us? Share your story with us here.

Dumisile Mphamba: Striving To Maintain Excellence, As A Form Of Worship

Dumisile Melody Mphamba is a 19-year-old Zimbabwean young lady who will be starting her undergraduate studies at Stanford University, this fall, under a full scholarship.

Growing up in a country with a ‘broken’ health system, she aims to contribute solutions to eradicating the inequity in the healthcare sector. Dumisile  hopes to becomes a medical doctor and public health professional, who focuses her career on optimizing access to healthcare, for low-income Zimbabweans. 

She describes herself as an artistic scientist. During her high school days, Dumisile co-managed 26 extracurricular clubs  including: Public Speaking Captain and Toastmasters Vice President. She is also an active She is a Worship Leader, actress, Youth Music Director and volunteer in her community. Dumisile is the oldest of three girls, and lives with her parents and sisters in Harare, Zimbabwe.

In this interview, she takes us through her incredible story to Stanford…

My core belief is that I was created to praise and please the Lord Click To Tweet


What has been your motivation for excellence and what impact have you made as a result?

My core belief is that I was created to praise and please the Lord. What better way to honour my Creator and Source than to give Him my best and nothing less?

In this same regard, I take pleasure in developing other people, so that whether they share my spiritual beliefs or not, they can live to get the very best out of life, and share the very best of their gifts with the world.

I do this in many ways, my particular favourite being, as a mentor and Youth Group Leader in my church, as well as the Youth Music Director and Worship Leader. In addition to that, as a Cultural Captain and leader in my school.

I believe that, by striving to maintain excellence as a form of worship, I inspired several of my schoolmates to pursue academic, extracurricular, sporting and other equally important forms of excellence, and thus obtain a sense of fulfillment.


By striving to maintain excellence as a form of worship, I inspired several of my schoolmates Click To Tweet


Take us on a walk through your journey to attaining a full scholarship at Stanford University?

I began considering applying to the US for tertiary education when my school Guidance Counsellor suggested that I consider it as an option. Anyone who knows me, knows that at the time (I was 17) I had made a solid plan to complete my GCE A-levels, pass and go straight to medical school, without going through the relatively complicated American path to becoming a medical doctor.

It took a lot of convincing from my Guidance Counsellor and my mentor, Dr Charlene Kembo-Chideme. But, I joined EducationUSA Harare, took the SATs, sought guidance from the EducationUSA advisor and fellow Zimbabweans in the USA (in crafting my application essays), applied, and the rest is history.

I was accepted into the University of Pennsylvania and Yale University, also on very generous scholarships, but Stanford had always been my dream school, and their package was the most generous of the three. So I am very grateful for having such an easy choice to make!



What principles have been fundamental to you and why?

My defining element is my constant motivation to please God, and pursue a close relationship with him. But, this was not always my conviction.

When I was about 14 years old, I experienced a time of loneliness and rejection by friends I had trusted for years, as well as tragedies that led to angry questions: What was the point of living? What was the point of God?

It is then that I began to realize, through prayer, introspection, and a bucket load of tears, that my job was not to understand why things were the way they were. But, what was important was for me to flourish in those circumstances, and please God by doing my personal best, no matter what my surroundings looked like.


Flourish in your circumstances, no matter what your surrounding looks like Click To Tweet


While in high school, you balanced having an outstanding grade while managing over twenty-six extracurricular activities. How did you achieve that?

The most important element was my close relationship with God and our often brutally-honest conversations. I also received constant encouragement from my parents, and had a strong support structure of older sisters, particularly my mentor, who affirmed me especially when I needed it.

I also have to mention my artistic outlet. I studied only science subjects at Advanced Level, and so it became increasingly important for me to deliberately let out the artist in me on stage, through public speaking, theatre, music and worship.



What qualities are essential for young Africans?

Resilience is key. One of my favourite quotes is “A river cuts through the rock, not because of its power, but because of its persistence.” – Jim Watkins. As young Africans, we must believe in the unique gifts and ideas we possess.

We must be resilient enough to seek new ways of pursuing our goals if ever we fail, and we must refuse to allow our gift to die without being tapped into. I believe that leadership is the ability to use our gifts to unite people; Towards a vision that benefits  followers, and to inspire them to develop their own vision for their lives, so that they may use their gifts to, in turn, benefit the lives of others.


A river cuts through the rock, not because of its power, but because of its persistence -Jim Watkins Click To Tweet


What are your plans for Africa and Zimbabwe in particular in the coming future?

My goal is to become a medical doctor and public health professional, who focuses her career on optimizing access to healthcare for low-income Zimbabweans.

I look forward to collaborating with many like-minded individuals, both in Africa and the world at large, who are also passionate about developing healthcare infrastructure in our part of the world.

During college, I aim to involve myself in service initiatives that can, in one way or the other, enable me to begin to work on developing Africa.



Tell us how you sang your way to Paris in 2014

I first heard of Alliance Francaise de Harare’s annual national contest ‘Sing Your Way to Paris’, when I was 13 years old, and purposed in my heart to win it someday, even though I had never sung in French before, let alone in front of the audience.

I entered the contest when I was 16. With the support of my family, French and Music teachers, and my musical genius of an aunt, Aunty Tammy- I sang and performed ‘Je Lui Dirai’ by Celine Dion, and became the first teenager ever in the country to win the contest! It was a dream come true.


Reading a book or watching a movie, what would be your preference?

That is hard to answer. I tend to watch movies upon recommendation from trusted sources. The same goes with books. It is my own elaborate form of laziness. And I am proud of it!

What an inspiring young lady! How has the belief in excellence helped you achieve your goals?

Let us know more about you and your story here.



Carol Nyazika: Ndanaka is not just a beauty brand, it’s a lifestyle brand

We last spoke to Carol Nyazika 10 months ago, when she was still in the process of launching Ndanaka. Ndanaka is an au-natural lifestyle brand with products predominantly from Zimbabwe and other African countries. It brings together a variety of beauty elements and infuses them into one. Hence their tag line, A Fusion of Beauty.

Revisiting our last sit down this is what she had to say about it.


How was the seed planted?

I started Ndanaka in 2011 when people were not really talking about natural products. Ndanaka started as a lifestyle blog and YouTube channel that promotes natural skin and hair care.

I was suffering from dry skin and my mothers skin was breaking out due to menopause. All the products she was using were not working for her, so I started mixing up a few ingredients that she could try. I then trained as a formulator and are now qualified to create products.


How did the name, Ndanaka, come about?

I gave my brand a Shona name because there are so many products with either French or foreign names we can hardly pronounce but we learn to. The word or statement, Ndanaka, has several translations and can mean ‘I am beautiful’ or in slang, ‘I’m good now’.


Fast forward to 2017…

Ndanaka was launched in January and it took four weeks. The process included: formulation, procurement, manufacturing, packaging, marketing and eventually making it available to the public.


What attracted you to this industry?

My initial drive and motivation was seeing my mothers confidence return when she felt beautiful and happy with her appearance.  Later on, my mum would say, “You keep running away and going into other industries and even though you excel in those, you are not using your God given gift”.

Before, I was scared of entering the beauty industry because of the labels that sometimes come with it, but eventually I decided to give it a go. God gives us the power to profit, so I believe that now I am using my God given gift.


How was it like leaving your full time job to start a business in a struggling economy?

It’s interesting and the economy pushes you a bit more because now you are literally eating what you kill. I have nothing to fall back on so I have to learn to  budget  and also work very hard to generate sales. But, it is not only about me, but our service providers as well.

Even though the economy is struggling, we are forward thinking and putting sustainable structures in place. Structures that cover our cost to meet demand. The company is self-funded. Like any business our profits are still going back into the business and we are grateful that we have managed to increase our profit every month ever since we started. We work from home, where we have a work station or lab and a garage that we converted into a storage.

Because I am a trained formulator, I make my own products. It is therefore easier to come up with new products that our clients require or ask us to make . We started off with four products and we now have seven.


How has the market responded to your brand?


The response has been overwhelming. We started selling on the 28th of January, since then it’s been a whirlwind. The demand is growing within Zimbabwe and other countries like Kenya, Zambia, Tanzania, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand and the UK. In our first week of operation, we sold out in four days and our first retailer sold out in the first week.

We are now currently in three retail shops and working to increase our presence across the country and into different markets. We aim to maintain good quality products as we continuously build, evolve and grow.


What challenges have you faced with the launch of Ndanaka?

Not meeting demand. However, we started taking this into consideration when pricing and formulating our products. At the end of the day we aim to provide an affordable brand because we understand our vision and goals.

Another setback is packaging. We are still not where we want to be but it is all a work in progress and we understand that.

With the issue of unavailability of cash in Zimbabwe, how are you managing to run your business?

We have all methods of payment –  most people pay cash, our second biggest method of payment is Ecocash (a mobile money transfer powered by Econet), swipe then transfers.

We make sure we have nothing to hold our customers back from purchasing our products.  We work with what we have, always searching for a solution and not letting the current hardships set us back.


How does your brand support the Zimbabwean economy?

Besides paying my taxes, I try to work with Zimbabwean companies and service providers as much as I can. Printing and graphic design is done locally. Some of my ingredients are sourced in rural Zimbabwe, therefore creating jobs.  I am also pushing for my brand to be recognised internationally as a Zimbabwean brand.


What personal traits are necessary to run a business like Ndanaka?

  1. Resilience
  2. Confidence in one’s product
  3. Ability to constantly evolve
  4. Good listening skills
  5. A good support system
  6. Be good at delegating
  7. Ability to take criticism
  8.  A hunger to learn


What advice would you give to your younger self?

  1. Just start – figure it out as you go.  Have a skeleton and add flesh as you progress.
  2. Do not be afraid to ask. Be humble enough to ask for help and its okay if you dont know.
  3. Be curious about everything.
  4. Always have a contingency plan.
  5. Be resilient. People will always say something about you. Don’t take it personal. Feel your feelings – feel challenged, sad but move on- keep going.
  6. Try and be authentic – do what comes naturally to you.
  7. Try and be supportive of others.
  8. Put the work in and do what it takes to build your brand with integrity.
  9. Have a contract for everyone. Things change, people change and situations change.
  10. Operate as a business not an individual. When you respect your brand people will also respect it.


What is your favorite African lifestyle brand?

Let us know more here


Diana Washe: Because I do what I like, my work and lifestyle are interlinked

I covered my shoe with African fabric, posted it on social media & the next thing I was getting orders Click To Tweet

Diana Mano is a Digital Marketer for a direct marketing company, a blogger, a BA Communication Science graduate and a mother of two boys.

Diana, known by most as Diana Washe, is the founder and creative designer of Shaina an African inspired accessory designing business based in Johannesburg, South Africa. Her products are handmade and fuse African fabrics with different textures to create unique handmade pieces.

She named herself Washe a name which comes from her faith in the Lord meaning “of the Lord”.

Tell us a bit about Shaina.

Shaina started in 2014 when I was diagnosed with depression. I was in a dark place having lost someone very close to me. I started seeing a therapist and one of the things that she encouraged me to do was to look for a hobby in an effort to help me with the depression. So I went to YouTube and found a video on how to make crafts using the fabric. The first thing I did was cover my shoe with African fabric, posted it on my social media page and the next thing I was getting orders. I wasn’t keen on making this an income generating hobby but my therapist advised me otherwise.

So I started with a few orders and boom, Shaina was born. I started with small things like accessories because if you can’t wear fabric, you can at least accessorize. With each year I get better at the craft. Shaina basically means shine. I named it Shaina because I don’t believe that people should just sit and wait for things to happen, they should flourish where they are planted. Shaina is an extension of my personal life, I am a lover of accessories.

How would you describe your designs?

I make contemporary African accessories which is a fusion of other fabrics and African print. I have in cooperated a combination of leather and African print into my line. Basically my brand is an affordable luxury brand.

What inspires your designs?

The different people I meet in African print either on the streets of Johannesburg, Harare or in magazines. If I see something I like, I am always thinking of ways to make it better. I love fashion and prints, I find them very vibrant but I also feel like a lot of people do not really appreciate print.

If I see something I like, I am always thinking of ways to make it better - Diana Washe Click To Tweet

Tell us a bit about Soweto Fashion week?

Soweto Fashion Week (SFW) is a platform for upcoming fashion designers to show the world what they are made of. For me it was nerve-racking, exciting and a great eye opening experience. It was my first time showcasing at a fashion show but I feel I executed my work very well. It was a good place for me to be because of the media coverage, exposure and meeting new people.

How has your educational background helped you in managing your business?

So firstly, my work background as a Digital Marketer assists me in running my own pages as it includes a lot of social media, email marketing, web-page optimising. So because I do what I like, my work and lifestyle are interlinked.

What are the challenges of running your own company?

Time. One just never has enough time. I wear many hats, student, mom, blogger, digital marketer and my personal life, therefore, there is not enough time.

Tell me a bit about your blog.

My blog is called Parenting in Heels and it is a lifestyle parenting blog started in April 2017. A lot of people ask me how I manage to do what I do so I decided to share my everyday life and how I make it work.

What is your advice to those aspiring to enter the fashion industry?

Have a passion for it, determination, work hard and stay focused.

What were the major start up challenges you faced?

Trying to move Shaina from being a hobby to it being a business.

Where would you like to see your brand in future?

I am looking at expanding my brand into African Inspired interior design and a kids clothing line. I want to have a concept shop and also work with other designers. I would also like to see my products being recognised and available in shops and major fashion shows.

Diana Washe: I am self-taught and I am willing to help other women Click To Tweet

What can we expect from Shaina in the next five years?

A more solid brand that is found all over the world. Empowering and encouraging women especially single parents to be self-sustaining and use what they have. I am self-taught and I am willing to help other women. I believe the world is so abundant of things to work with.

If you’d like to share your story with She Leads Africa, let us know more about you and your story here.

Ntombizodwa Sibanda: Contentment is the realisation of how much you already have

Ntombizodwa Sibanda
Our ultimate goal is to holistically fulfil our guests @ZoeOmza co-founder of @TheHighTeaZA Click To Tweet

Ntombizodwa Sibanda and Bonnie Chimanikire recently hosted a successful high tea event in Harare, Zimbabwe. The High Tea concept is an initiative that was co-founded by the two ladies, Ntombizodwa and Bonnie. They wanted the event to be an afternoon of encouragement, pampering and positive interaction for women.

SLA contributor Makhosazana Ndlovu recently caught up with Ntombizodwa to learn more about the concept and discover their secrets to running a successful event.

What inspired you to start The High Tea initiative?

My partner, Bonnie and I had successfully run a campaign to assist displaced xenophobic victims in the Germiston area. After the campaign, Bonnie approached me about her vision to host a women-focused event.

We agreed that we wanted the event not only to be informative, but to be an afternoon of encouragement, pampering, and positive interaction of women, which is contrary to the general negative narrative of the interaction of women.

Empowerment, fashion, food. Why these themes specifically?

Our ultimate goal is to holistically fulfil our guests. Our guests are encouraged to dress to the nines, we ensure that our menu and refreshments are fit for the palate of queens and carefully select our speakers with a simple mandate to encourage our women. No woman can ever get enough of these themes.

How did you deal with the challenges that you faced when you first introduced the initiative?

Determination: We knew what we wanted. We knew what had to be done to achieve it, and we set out to do it. Most importantly, we were prepared for the worst; which was very low numbers. But we knew that if we succeeded in executing the first one, we would have the most effective publicity (word of mouth) going forward.

Support structure: We had friends and family who stood by us and gave us the necessary support and advice we needed.

Prayer: Some situations were beyond us. Those are the ones we left to God to handle. And He pulled through for us… a lot of fasting and prayer comes into every edition of The High Tea.

We knew what we wanted. We knew what had to be done to achieve it, and we set out to do it Click To Tweet

Who do you work with to ensure that The High Tea events are a success?

When we started, it was just Bonnie and I. However, as the vision grew, so did the need to incorporate much-needed help. The core team has grown by an extra four members, namely, Pam, Zihlobo, Gugu, and Sidumisile.

We also have a large network of successful women who are originally from Zimbabwe but are resident in South Africa. They are affectionately known as the SQUAD and we rely on them for valuable advice and direction. I could never forget our friends and families who have all played various roles in assisting us to meet our goals.

What impact does the events have on African women?

The event is not limited to Zimbabwean women but attracts women from various African countries. This is also evident in our diverse speakers. We aim to encourage inter-dependence amongst African women. Our struggles are, after all similar, regardless of our different countries. This means that viable solutions can be found in positive interaction with each other.

We aim to encourage inter-dependence amongst African women @TheHighTeaZA Click To Tweet

What are your words of advice to young women who would like to start initiatives such as The High Tea?

Regardless of how many times you have seen something being done, no one can ever do it like you.

Identify your target market, identify a mentor, identify what and whom you will need to assist in bringing your vision to life, stalk them. It is possible.

If you’d like to share your story with She Leads Africa, let us know more about you and your story here.

Elsie Mutsaka: You must do what sets your heart on fire

Elsie Mutsaka
I realised that my brand and I are one and so my blog should be the same @ElsieMuts Click To Tweet

Elsie Mutsaka is an up and coming PR dynamo, social media marketer and blogger from Zimbabwe based in Port Elizabeth, South Africa. Her accessible fashion aesthetic is inspiring women from all walks of life to be confident in their style.

After discovering her personal style, Elsie started getting questions about her outfits and where she gets pieces. That encouraged her to start blogging and share her style with a wider range of people.

SLA contributor Anelisa Nokoyo had a chat with Elzie to find out what inspired her quirky fashion blog, and what she has in store for the future.

When did you start blogging?

Initially, I started blogging last year, April 2016 under the name differentlyconfident. Then this year I changed my domain name to my full name. I realised that my brand and I are one and so my blog should be the same.

What would you like to achieve with your blog?

I have always wanted to share my style with people and through this blog, I manage to do just that. Most importantly I wanted to bring about the idea that style is not about the price tag or label, and that you can look perfectly chic while still living within your means.

Growing up I had times when I was not as confident about how I looked, but as I grew older I became comfortable in my skin, looks, and style. That’s the exact same message that I would like the people that read my site to get each time they read my posts.

It’s basically a site for any type of woman to visit and get outfit inspiration, love the skin they’re in and know that they can create their own unique style. Also, while people shy away from thrifting, I find that it’s one of my favourite things to do with my sister each holiday, as you get stuff that nobody else has.

So I always mention where I get my clothes for each blog post and I’m not embarrassed that I shopped a SALE or that I thrifted. Ultimately, I intend on building a brand that inspires and speaks to women who fully know and understand themselves or who at least aspire to.

What do you enjoy most about blogging, and what are some of the challenges?

I really enjoy putting outfits together and reading comments from people who read the posts. Most of the time I really appreciate it when people give their honest opinion and usually, my family and friends do the most.

I think one of the challenges is when the writer’s block strikes. Sometimes you really have good photography but you are just not satisfied with your writing, but when I eventually get it together it’s amazing because I get to think out loud.

What are some of the wardrobe essentials that you think each woman should have?

Well, personally I believe everyone should have a really good quality blazer, a good pair of denim jeans, black pair of heels, very good quality handbag and at least one vintage or pop of colour item.

I could go on and on, but those are my faves, just that I own more than one of each. Whenever I am asked to, I style people or help them create their dream wardrobe so the essentials differ sometimes depending on your style.

Besides fashion, what else do you write about?

Besides fashion sometimes I write about things that matter to me like issues that women face, but I do this as a contributor for other platforms. Other times on my blog I share about my beauty routines which are quite simple.

What are some of the lessons you’ve learnt since delving into the world of blogging?

I have learnt that you must do what sets your heart on fire, sometimes trends in the blogging sphere are awesome but they are not always your thing. It’s okay to do what you feel comfortable in.

Also, there are so many bloggers out there and everyone has a niche and something unique they bring to the table, so it’s good to celebrate others. I enjoy commenting on other people’s blogs. It does not take anything away from me when their work and skill grows, and if you appreciate other people’s work oftentimes the favour is returned.

If you appreciate other people’s work oftentimes the favour is returned Click To Tweet

What else do you do besides blogging and how do you blend the two occupations together?

So, besides this blog, I do public relations, which means I spend my days working as a social media marketer for an online store and managing other platforms for clients. Because the social media thing is my 9-5, I usually blog in the evenings and do shoots on Saturday mornings.

It’s all about organising your very little time well. The two also blend well because it’s all use of the digital media, so sometimes I reply to comments on the job.

bcct You need to use what you have and what’s around you

Give us your top three tips that you’d give to anyone who wants to start blogging…

Once you figure that you want to blog GO FOR IT! I mean just do it. Secondly, just trust the process and even if like 3 people read your blog that’s okay, it takes time to grow an audience. When I first started blogging a close friend of mine offered to take pictures of me, she had no camera experience whatsoever but as my blogging got better, her photography did as well and because she believed in me so much I gained confidence.

What I am trying to say is you need to use what you have and what’s around you. I did not have a professional photographer but I had a friend and that helped me grow, and here I am.

If you’d like to share your story with She Leads Africa, let us know more about you and your story here.

Catch Elsie on her blog, to get some on-point fashion tips and lifestyle news.

Nyaradzo Mavindidze: Work is a form of worship

Nyaradzo Mavindidze
Nyaradzo Mavindidze is passionate about developing the ‘uncommon sense’ in leaders Click To Tweet

Nyaradzo Mavindidze, the Managing Consultant of Avodah Consultants, is a Holistic Leadership Expert who is passionate about developing the ‘uncommon sense’ in leaders, thus going beyond the five senses. A psychologist by profession, she enables leaders to draw on their inner and outer natural resources thus shifting personal paradigms and beliefs leading to transformed organisations.

Over the years, she has developed herself as a brand to reckon with in dissemination of lasting solutions to performance deficiencies in individuals, leaders, and organisations. She says, “Every one of us already has power, it’s just a matter of peeling away the stuff that shadows who you are and what you are capable of…”

As a coach, Nyaradzo creates an environment where you and your dreams, your challenges, fears, and victories are the focus. A time and space to be you, to find out who you are and what you want, and to then go out and create that despite external environmental challenges.

Nyaradzo is a high-energy speaker with boundless energy and wit who is able to combine inspiration with insight. Her charismatic style and ability to engage emotionally with audiences have made her a sought-after keynote speaker delivering proven solutions on topical issues for corporations. Her mission as a speaker, coach, and trainer is to empower organisations to achieve sustainable success through holistic development and cognitive reconditioning.

She has published a motivational journal, ‘Motivation for Success: Morsels in the Desert’ and is the co-author of; ‘Breaking the Glass Ceiling: Career Strategies for Women’. Her motivational articles are published in local magazines and tabloids. She currently writes a motivational column ‘Motivation for Success’ published in The Business Herald every Monday. She makes guest appearances on local radio and has been interviewed on a MNET TV program. In 2015 she was on the list of Young Zimbabweans to Watch’ and is the 2016- ZIWA Motivational Speaker of the Year.

Nyaradzo is also the founder of QueenMakers Trust whose mission is to empower female leaders through training, mentoring and coaching, thus enabling them to contribute into the mainstream economy.

How was Avodah formed?

Avodah was formed through a series of events. Having been in the NGO and corporate sector for close to a decade, with Viva Network Dandy Zimbabwe and Standard Chartered, I took a career sabbatical and went to Uni in the middle of a third pregnancy. Halfway through my degree, I started a clothing business: Sheba’s Closet, in an upmarket area in Harare. I travelled to Asia and Europe at least once a month to purchase clothing for the two shops that I had acquired.

After graduating in 2008 Avodah was formed with the realisation that it was virtually impossible to get back into formal employment due to the state of the economy. I decided to run the 2 businesses, my love for fashion and my natural speaking talent. It focuses on soft skills training, human capital development, recruitment, and coaching.

Avodah is a Hebrew word meaning work is a form of worship. I believe that as you are working, you are exercising and using your gifts that were placed inside of you, thereby giving glory and worshiping the giver of that gift.

In 2012, I went through a life altering experience that got me thinking about my purpose, passion, and desires. This led to me closing Sheba’s Closet to focus on something that left a legacy for my children. I knew that I was not going to be able to develop it to the level Edgars and Truworths (regional clothing stores), so I decided to focus solely on Avodah.

Every one of us already has power, it’s just a matter of peeling away the shadows Click To Tweet

What were the major start-up challenges?

I started Avodah during the 2008 recession period. I was going in the opposite direction of the economy. The only reason I have managed to survive is my work ethic and excellence.

I believe when you function in your area of passion and strength you have more staying power.

Tell us a bit about QueenMakers?

QueenMakers is a passion. I am passionate about women’s empowerment. I started QueenMakers to assist women developing themselves to function at their maximum potential. Culture, religion, politics, economies, and societies have made women a secondary species and made them feel like they don’t deserve a seat at the decision-making and power table.

QueenMakers is an organisation where women come together, get trained, motivated, coached and inspired to reach within themselves and polish their potential. We network, encourage, expose women to opportunities that are around them, help them maximise their potential and occupy centre stage.

What are some of the challenges that you have faced as a black African woman?

Most of my challenges as a black African woman have been self-belief and going past that little voice inside your head that says it’s impossible.

I have had to work hard to develop my confidence to put myself out there.

What more can government do to support entrepreneurs in Zimbabwe

I believe women have not even begun to utilise the ‘little’ that has been put on the table for them. Before we can ask for more we need to sweat what has been offered thus far. There is more that they can do but it’s also more of what we as women can do.

For example, there has not been that many women in politics. Our generation aspires and desires, complains and bickers but no one has really stepped up, very few women take up such roles.

As you are working, you are exercising and using your gifts that were placed inside of you Click To Tweet

What lessons or advice would you give your younger self?

Be bold and not afraid because fear is not real. It needs to be challenged through the stretching of our minds.

Like Nike says; Just Do it.

What can we look forward to in the next five years?

Avodah and QueenMakers occupying the African market share.

If you’d like to share your story with She Leads Africa, let us know more about you and your story here.

Joy Makumbe : Engineering is all about networks

I felt the need to test my strength & capacity to build, grow & sustain a company - Joy Makumbe Click To Tweet

From an early age, Joy Makumbe, the founder of Majolic Construction and The Joy Makumbe Trust, both based in Harare, Zimbabwe, has always been passionate about turning her ideas into tangible physical reality. Knowing that these realities assists women and girls in alleviating some of the problems they face daily with regards to water and sanitation gives her satisfaction.

Did you always want to be a civil engineer?

No, not really. I didn’t know much about it until I was attached to engineering companies during school holidays. Most of these companies were mainly involved with mechanical engineering but that is where I realised my passion for building things.

After graduation I mainly worked in consulting companies whose projects were mainly structural in nature. This was a good foundation for me as I worked with elderly white engineers who were really bent on detail, teaching, training and mentoring. From there I moved to another consulting company that exposed me to the projects management side of civil engineering.

I didn’t know much about civil engineering until I was attached to engineering companies Click To Tweet

Tell us about Majorlic Construction.

Majorlic Construction is a company I formed in 2008 after I felt the need to be directly involved in the communities, and to test my strength and capacity to build, grow and sustain a company. The name is a combination of letters from my first and last names.

Majorlic’s focus has been water and sewer reticulation networks and structural design. We have also incorporated the use of green technology in construction with the use of solar energy to provide water heating and lighting in the houses we construct. To date we have done servicing of residential stands, house and road constructions in Harare, Zimbabwe.

What challenges have you faced as a black African woman in engineering?

Most of the time people assume that I am a man. The community’s awareness with regards to women in engineering is still very low. As a result my gender makes it harder to get contracts because people lack the confidence that a woman can really deliver.

Contracts mainly come because of referrals from people who have worked with me and know my work. For me, there is no excuse for quality so it always comes down to proving myself more as an engineer.

Awareness of women in engineering is still very low. Most of the time people assume that I'm a man. Click To Tweet

What were the major start-up challenges?

Capital and not being known in the construction circles meant fewer contracts. Not many people want to engage an engineer that they do not know. When you get that opportunity to do a project, the project just looks too big in your eyes and can be overwhelming.

Looking back I have learnt that sometimes we are overwhelmed because we think we have to go at it alone but you will find that there are so many established companies who are willing to partner with you on some projects. Your company can learn from these established companies.

I know TechWomen 2015 was a life changing experience for you, tell us a bit about that.

You leave your country with one perspective on women, technology and science and you come back changed. I left the US with newly found relationships, sisterhoods, zeal, and a renewed form of energy.

I met a lot of powerful young women from different parts of the world who are making a difference in their home countries and beyond. This challenged me and I realised that I too could bring such impact.

How do you connect your experience at TechWomen with your work?

During my mentorship I was attached to Sun Power – one of the major players in solar technology in the US. I realised that there was so much untapped potential in Zimbabwe for solar power on the domestic, industrial and agricultural fields. This was an area which we needed to explore more of in Zimbabwe.

Since then I have been looking at ways of  introducing different forms of energy in Zimbabwe through my trust, The Joy Makumbe Trust. It has been difficult in the past couple of years to rely solely on Hydropower due to seasonal changes and drought patterns.

We have started exploring more on green technology and how we can use it to make our lives better. For example those in the rural areas have resources to use like Biogas, they just do not have the knowledge. We plan to bridge this knowledge gap in the communities.

Overall, my experience at TechWomen has given me lifelong networks of sisters across the globe. Sisters who share opportunities and information to build our businesses and increase impact in our communities. Sisters who share achievements to encourage each other and show that it can be done.

How has it been moving from being a lecturer to managing a multi-million dollar project in a foreign country?

Engineering is all about networks. I got this job because an engineer colleague of mine informed me of the opportunity and I submitted my CV. The thought of relocating was overwhelming and being part of a million dollar job funded by the World Bank made it worse. So many questions ran through my head, “am I woman enough to pull it through?” But I have a very supportive family that really cheers me on.

This contract came at the right time when I felt I was ready for something new. The TechWomen experience had elevated me to a level where going down again was not an option for me. I was restless. I needed to do more. I needed to make more impact. It has been challenging dealing with contractors and being in a different setting, but it has been an amazing experience.Joy Makumbe: I was restless. I needed to do more. I needed to make more impact. Click To Tweet

How do you describe your business model as you are currently based in Uganda?

I have two people on the ground whom I leave to the execution of the day to day running of the company and the trust.

My presence here in Uganda is an opportunity for the company to source deals and partnerships and penetrate the Ugandan market.

The Joy Makumbe trust tell me about that.

The Joy Makumbe trust is mainly about building awareness of engineering as a career to girls and career guidance for science and technology. I only got to know about the different types of engineering disciplines at university and I certainly did not want this to be what other young people go through.

We have been involved with so many schools for example Eaglesvale School in Harare, Zimbabwe and Bweranyangi Girls in Uganda. It is amazing how our girls are the same despite the boarders. The same passion to learn more on how they too can make tech an interesting career choice. I believe that wherever one is, they can always make a difference in our youth.
How do you manage to balance the trust, your job and Majolic?

It is hard. You cannot be sleeping at 8 if you want all these things to work. Longer hours are required of you.

But I cannot belittle the use of networks and links. I have like-minded people who are on the ground for both Majolic and the trust.

Which African woman has the strongest influence on you?

My network of women engineers, who are both mothers and career women but who each and every day share success stories of how they have won awards on the international arena and how they are making a difference within their communities.

It inspires me knowing that it can be done because it is happening around me every day.

What should we look forward to in the next 5 years?

Majorlic will have international partnerships. By then, I hope I will have Ugandan engineers who I can collaborate with. Therefore, the time I am here, I am looking to creating relationships and networks that go beyond my day to day job.

The trust will make more impact in the communities. I look forward to expanding green technology usage throughout the country and reducing the strain on the country’s power grid.

Not forgetting of course, a lot more female engineers graduating from our institutions of higher learning! A lot more women in engineering and construction businesses! A lot more women leaving a mark in their communities and countries at large.

If you’d like to share your story with She Leads Africa, let us know more about you and your story here


Lorraine Maphala Phiri: A brand for every woman who understands the importance of quality over quantity

We do more than just sell hair we educate our clients on the different types of hair Click To Tweet

Born 33 years ago, Lorraine Maphala Phiri has been nominated Female Entrepreneur of the Year 2016 at the Megafest Business Awards Southern Region. The former model is certainly making a mark in the business sector. Lorraine proves that she is a beauty with brains as she has established herself and booming business well.

Lorraine has exhibited exceptional modelling prowess both locally and internationally, distinguishing herself with a unique versatility that has seen her excel during the early stages of her career.  SLA contributor Neo Cheda got to chat with her, however,  about her career and her business venture: Real Hair By Lorraine.

Tell us about your modeling career, winning Miss Zimbabwe and going on to represent the country in Miss World.

Representing my country at Miss World had always been my dream. Since high school, I always had a desire to speak and be heard. Coming from a dusty suburb of Nketa 6 it was a dream I never imagined would come true.

Winning Miss  Zimbabwe 2005 was a life changing moment for me as it opened doors I never thought I could go through. It was fulfilling and rewarding and proved to be a great platform for me to establish my career and brand.

Tell us about your business, what product or service you provide and who your target audience is.

Since the end of my reign, I have been busy growing Lorraine as a brand. Real Hair by Lorraine (RHL) is a proudly Zimbabwean brand specializing in 100% human hair i.e. Indian hair, Mongolian hair lace wigs, and all things hair. Real Hair by Lorraine Studio was then birthed after the hair brand when I realized the gap in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe for a professional upmarket hair salon.

We offer beauty services as well, nails and mail art. Our target market is every woman who desires to look beautiful, feel beautiful and be treated like the Queen they are. It’s a brand for every woman who understands the importance of quality over quantity. We don’t just sell hair it’s a lifestyle.

Women have also shown us great support and at the moment we have one branch in Bulawayo and an online shop which helps us supply hair products to customers in Europe, Harare and South Africa. We are different from most people in the hair business because we do more than just sell the hair but we educate our clients on the different types of hair and how to take care of it.”

Please tell us what being a business owner means to you and why you became an entrepreneur in the first place?

Being a business owner for me means a lot of sacrifices, being able to change people’s lives through your work and empowering families by providing jobs. The fear of poverty and being ordinary inspired me to be an entrepreneur.

I became an entrepreneur because I love starting something totally new and seeing it come to life. I love challenging myself and I have always been a dreamer a big dreamer. From a young age I always knew that I would end up a businesswoman, I just didn’t know what kind of business I would venture into.

The fear of poverty and being ordinary inspired me to be an entrepreneur - Lorraine Maphala Phiri Click To Tweet

How do you achieve work-life balance?

It’s an art and I’m still learning. However, having a strong support system at home makes it a lot easier and with my ability to prioritize, everything just falls into place.

What or who has been your greatest influence in business and why? How did you get where you are today, and who/what helped you along the way?

My husband’s work ethic has been my greatest influence  in my business, however, I have always aspired to be a business woman to be reckoned with. I would never be where I am today without the sacrifice of my parents who continued to pick me up even when my businesses hit rock bottom. Their encouragement and faith in my dreams

Their encouragement and faith in my dreams are what has kept me going.  I am still work in progress I have not arrived yet lol. Maybe next time we speak I will be Dr. Lorraine.

What would you say is your greatest professional accomplishment to date?

Being founder and MD of Real Hair By Lorraine Studio.

What’s the best advice you have received in business that you wish to pass on to our readers?

Start where you are with what you have, the best time to start is now.

If you’d like to share your story with She Leads Africa, let us know more about you and your story here

4 keys of personal leadership courtesy of Rachel Nyaradzo Adams

Rachel Nyaradzo Adams wants to give people a Master’s degree in themselves @RachelNAdams Click To Tweet

“We all can get an education, but I want to give people a Master’s degree in themselves”

These are the words of Zimbabwean leadership consultant Rachel Nyaradzo Adams. This dynamic entrepreneur has crafted leadership strategies for organisations such as Mckinsey & Company, Barack Obama’s Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) program, and Yale University. She currently runs the leadership consultancy she founded called Narachi Leadership, which caters to high impact leaders across Africa.

As soon as I heard the opening statement I knew I had to sit down with this remarkable woman. I wanted to find out more about her passion for African leaders, as well as get a few ideas on how you can elevate your consciousness as a leader.

Before you moved back to Zimbabwe, you had an exciting job at Yale University in the office of international affairs. What prompted you to move back home and found Narachi?

The seed was planted in me many years ago when I was selected as a Mandela Rhodes scholar. Our program director gathered all the scholars together and she gave us all a candle. She lit hers, and she asked that we light ours only if we were committed to being the change that Africa needs. For the first time in my life, I felt like I had been given permission to make a difference. I  was also being given the tools to do so.

Many years later while working at Yale University I looked back on that moment and began to question if what I was doing lived up to the commitment I had made. As Africans I believe we are far from creating a continent that gives dignity back to our people. I saw the need back home and knew I could do a better job of addressing it. I had spent my whole career working with leaders and entrepreneurs so starting Narachi was a way to have a more focused impact on the continent ‘one leader at a time’.

I admire your commitment to nurturing leaders on the continent. All too often I have heard the phrase ‘Africa has no good leaders’. What is your message to the younger generation?

I recently gave a TEDx talk where I shared my views on this. I believe Africa doesn’t have a leadership crisis, it just has a lack of a critical mass of courageous youth. It surprises me when I hear young people complaining about their ‘leaders’. People who are over 70 years of age realistically should have little say in our future. I need young people to question why they are comfortable delegating decision making around their future.

Looking at our history, it has never been solely the “leaders” that have transformed this continent, it has been young people. The recently deceased anti-Apartheid activist Ahmed Kathrada was 12 years old when he started his activism, Nelson Mandela started in politics at 26 years old, and Aliko Dangote was 21 when he took a loan to start a business. Thomas Sankara was 33. We have to harness our courage and start building the Africa we deserve.

There are some young people embracing that spirit of courage, Fred Swaniker would be a good example, but we need more. I would encourage young people to engage with the idea of what it means to put our lives on the line and sacrifice to see your continent as it should be. Doing the right thing won’t get you recognition, and you may not make it onto any prestigious lists for a while. It is however, part of the work that needs to get done.


When it comes to making huge life decisions, for example picking a career, it is easy to get bogged down. What should we remember when making these decisions and make these moments of ‘leading ourselves’ easier?

Getting bogged down by life is quite common. In my work with Narachi I have realised just how much people struggle to figure themselves out.

I believe once people give themselves the permission to live authentically, they begin the journey to becoming better humans AND better leaders. Here are a few steps to getting there with examples from my own life:

1. It begins with ‘resonance’

Ask yourself ‘what resonates with me?’ You have to take time to listen to what has always been there. What are the things that you have always been drawn to or felt passionate about? The key to this is to guard against being seduced by the language of the time. For example, right now there is a lot of attention on entrepreneurship and technology.  I therefore, find people trying to fit themselves under labels like ‘tech-entrepreneur’ when they have no business being in that space. Technology is a tool that you can use in service of who you really are.

You don’t have to pretend to be good at something you will only be mediocre at because it isn’t a strength of yours. Create a list of topics that interest you and things you do well. If you can’t identify those on your own, ask people around you and colleagues who you work with for feedback on how they experience you.

You don’t have to pretend to be good at something you will only be mediocre at Click To Tweet
2. Accept what resonates with you

This is the reality: resonance isn’t always sexy. I often see people who are still afraid of not fitting into the current marketable language.  Trying to do so could overshadow the value you bring to the table. When I worked at McKinsey I was surrounded by people who were number crunchers. In an environment like that, I could see the value of their strengths and so I began to doubt the value of mine.

The irony is that I had been employed precisely because I was not a strict number cruncher. I had to accept that my skill set was never going to get any fancier that what it is. I work with people and it is soft work and that is fine. This taught me to jealously guard what was true for me and to value it.

3. Turn your ‘resonance’ into a service

Once you find what resonates with you, it is now your job to make it palatable and to do the work to sell it. Anthropology resonated with me because I had always been interested in the human case, so I majored in it at university. My challenge going into the marketplace was to make people understand why it is useful for them. As an entrepreneur, you find the gaps in the market and convince people of why you are suited to fill them.

This advice applies to people who find they are not living up to their full potential in their jobs as well. You have to ask: does the way I am being made to work resonate with me? Ensure that the people who are managing you know your real strengths and skills.

I always tell people that you may have a job description, but it is your job to be courageous enough to speak up and tell your managers how best you can do that job in a way that is uniquely you. This may cause a bit of tension, but the key is to prove what you are selling. After you prove that your ‘resonance’ produces results people will acclimate.

Not living up to your full potential at work? Ensure that your managers know your real strengths & skills Click To Tweet
4. Be courageous:

I believe there is a formula to courage:

Change your thoughts:
Your thoughts create your emotions. For example, a common thought would be, “Have I wasted my youth by leaving a great job in a comfortable economy and moving back to Zimbabwe?”. I rather think, “Zimbabwe deserves my youth and my courage”.

Once you learn to navigate your thought patterns, you are able to cultivate the emotions that will serve your current mission.

Calculate your losses:
Be honest with yourself about what you are going to lose by taking the risk you are about to take. In my case it was losing the career ‘eliteness’ I had enjoyed. Because I had always worked for elite institutions, doors would open quite easily.

I remember being part of a delegation to another country for work. By virtue of our affiliation to an elite institution, there was insistence we should meet the president of that country. Our business cards were a currency and by quitting I knew I was losing that currency.

Being courageous required me to be honest with myself. I understood that the path I wanted to go down would cost me prestige. The political consequences of speaking up could even cost me my life.

Choose to continue:
This is so important to have conviction in your choices and to fully own them. I often say to myself: if this country fails, it is my fault. If we all took that kind of ownership Africa would be in a much different place than where we are today.

Follow Rachel on Twitter @RachelNAdams. You can also stream her radio show Leadership 2.0 every Monday at 6.30pm on