Zambia: Inspiring woman’s entrepreneurship story

Sifuwe Mwangala

 As mothers, teachers and mentors, they pass on knowledge, values and skills to children.

Therefore, for any nation to develop, there is a need to invest in women because they are more likely to invest their income in their family’s wellbeing, including health, education and nutrition.

When women have access to economic resources and opportunities, they can lift themselves and their families out of poverty, contributing to the overall development of communities and societies.

As the world is celebrating International Women’s Day under the theme,” Invest in Women: Accelerate Progress,” many women in Zambia, especially those without the white collar jobs are resorting to become entrepreneurs.

31-year-old Wakunyambo Mungongo of Muoyo area in Nalolo District of Western Province has ignored traditional gender roles that hinder women from thinking outside the box and has embraced entrepreneurship.

Mungongo, who has emerged as an inspiration for women seeking economic independence runs a bar and restaurant called, ‘Royal Joint Bar and Restaurant,’ to improve their livelihoods.

The mother of two’s journey serves as a testimony to the transformative power of self-empowerment and the potential for women to create their own paths to financial stability.

Mungongo emphasises the importance of women embracing innovation and engaging in income-generating activities.

“It is high time women explore entrepreneurial ventures as a way to sustain themselves and their families,” she said. Mungongo’s business journey began four years ago when she took the bold step of opening a bar.

Mungoro Bar and restaurant

She says her decision to venture into the hospitality industry was driven by personal circumstances.

Mungongo explained that her decision to open a bar and restaurant was motivated by her ex-husband’s disapproval of her visiting fishing camps to buy fish. “My husband was uncomfortable with me spending nights at the fishing camps, which led him to prevent me from engaging in the fish business. However, I couldn’t bear to stay at home without doing anything, so I ventured into my current business,” she said.

After refusing to be deterred by societal norms and the limitations placed upon her, Mungongo established her own bar with a K1, 500 capital which she raised from her previous fish business. “I started a bar with only K1, 500 which enabled me to buy a crate of lager beer and a pack of opaque beer popularly called ‘score’,” she disclosed. Recently, Mungongo expanded her enterprise by adding a restaurant to her existing bar, further diversifying her sources of income.

Mungoro serving customers in a sheltered bar before building her own bar

“So far so good, business at the restaurant which is only two weeks old is going on well. The response from our customers is overwhelming,” she said.

Her diversification has increased her sources of income as she no longer has to depend for money from only her bar.Mungongo’s story serves as an inspiration for other women facing similar challenges. She urges them to break free from depending only on handouts but should embrace entrepreneurship.

Mungorro attending to customers

“It is possible for women to be financially independent. The only secret is to identify skills and interests that can lead to income-generating activities,” she said.Mungongo however, disclosed that there are many challenges that women in business face in expanding their businesses compared to men. According to her, accessing financial assistance from leading institutions is one of the biggest hindrances.

“When women want to grow their business and they seek financial assistance from the banks, they will be asked to provide collateral which I don’t have and most women don’t have because we don’t own any land,” Mungongo said. She however advised women not to give up, saying that some can even partner with others in order for them to have different ideas in their business.

“If you cannot manage on your own, it is good to come together with others, even forming cooperatives so that you have diverse ideas is a good move towards becoming financially independent.

“Opportunities are everywhere around us, we just have to think a little outside the box then we will be able to see what business ideas we can unleash and let us desist from the Pull Him Down syndrome but let us continue to inspire one another and you will be surprised by how much we shall achieve,” Mungongo stated, Her story serves as a shining example of what can be achieved when women are empowered to take control of their financial destinies.

As women celebrate and reflect on their day this year, it is important for them to inspire one another and also nurture young girls so that they too can grow up, knowing that fostering a culture of entrepreneurship and self-sufficiency within the community is very important. Meanwhile, Nalolo District Commissioner, Namatama Mupo has encouraged women to exchange knowledge and improve their livelihoods through venturing into different businesses.

Namatama Mupo in her Office

Mupo said women are the ones who take care of their families hence, the need to find stable means as a source of livelihood. “A woman should be innovative and have plans of multiplying whatever her hands set on so that she is able to feed her family,” she said. The commissioner noted that there are so many things that women can do even without a lot of capital.

“Others can come up with backyard gardens and start selling vegetables. The money raised can be used to buy other necessities,” she pointed out. Ms Mupo advised that women should utilise their day by exchanging productive ideas. “Women are known for not supporting one another hence, let us prove them wrong by uplifting each other,” she encouraged.

Mupo notes that by uplifting and encouraging each other, women can build confidence, recognise their strengths and pursue their goals further. Women have historically been underrepresented in various fields and industries, therefore, by inspiring one another, they can contribute to increasing female representation in areas where women are traditionally marginalised.

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