By Ndanatsiwa Tagwireyi
BUSINESS women in Zimbabwe and other developing nations are affected by social factors like conflicting gender roles, weak networking ability, cultural stereotypes and limited access to essential information. Despite a barrage of challenges hindering women in their businesses, some women are standing tall in achieving their goals and reversing preconceived views on the capabilities of women. Such is the story of Sylvia Choruwa who scooped the Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce (ZNCC) Midlands Chapter business woman of the year 2019. In 2020, she was the first runner up business woman of the Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) at national level, branding award winner and best manager award winner. Choruwa is the founder and director of Isheanopa Group of Companies specialising in clothing, furniture and hardware retail outlets in Zvishavane.
Starting her retailing business in Zvishavane’s Mandava area where she owned a small table at a flea market and going through the difficulties of spending some days and nights away from home, without taking a bath whilst jostling to enter through the country’s borders with her stock did not make her a coward of quitting. She had to apply Grant Cardone’s 10X Rule to determine how much effort and thought she needed to become a successful business woman who is now visible in business circles.
“In 2019, I became the Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce (ZNCC) Midlands Province business woman of the year and in 2020, I became the first runner up business woman of the Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) at national level,” Choruwa revealed to the Entrepreneurial Magazine. “Isheanopa Investments which is now Isheanopa Group of Companies was then recognised as a brand and our company has graduated from a small enterprise to a medium enterprise at national level.”
“I was awarded a certificate of one of the best designers in Zimbabwe when we were launching the Zimbabwe National Dress at the state house on the 19th of December 2020.”
Despite scooping accolades in business circles, Choruwa admits that running a business as a woman is not for the faint hearted as one has to iron out many disadvantages that grapple women in their day to day living.
“Women are discriminated politically, economically, socially, culturally, legally and educationally and against this background, women entrepreneurs suffer to establish effective business ventures,” Choruwa told the Entrepreneurial Magazine. “The challenges faced by women in business are not the same as those faced by their male counterparts in the sense that women are looked down upon in the community and there is a lot of bully behaviour whereby women are told to keep quiet even during family meetings.”
“Sometimes balancing business and home is difficult as you are called to do your motherly duties despite the pressure at work,” Choruwa who is also a mother of two said. “Other challenges come in form of sexual harassment and lack of acceptance by men in your day to day execution of duties as a business woman and these challenges require self-discipline to avoid being taken advantage of by men in exchange of cheap things like mbasera (an item that is given for free in addition to a purchase) after finishing orders.”
Choruwa also told The Entrepreneurial Magazine that her business has not been spared by the adverse effects of covid 19 that has ravaged the world’s economy. She says her business has developed effective strategies in order to stay afloat.
“I am managing through hard work, determination, focus and prayer and also doing market research,” the multi-award winning business lady said. “We have identified our expenses and now practicing serious cost cutting and making use of the lean approach to our business in order to focus on what is necessary to bring quick returns whilst not sacrificing on quality.”
Choruwa also dares to delve into other lines of business to diversify her source of business revenue income. “I am planning to develop more lines of trade like mining, construction and farming which I have already started here in Zvishavane,” Choruwa revealed adding that she is already constructing a shopping complex that is nearing completion in Mberengwa. “I am also planning to fully embrace the digital age by computerising my business and making effective use of social media.”
Isheanopa Group of Companies founder also tipped women to work hard to create their own identities and do away with dependency syndrome as people change in life.
“Men tend to look down upon women if they are not educated or no longer attractive in their own eyes and because of this, I encourage women to start their own businesses by selling small things like tomatoes, vegetables, fruits while expanding to more greater things,” Choruwa who has since become a self-styled motivational speaker said. “Being a millionaire starts by saving little by little and women can also do mikando (stokvels) as this encourages them to work hard.”