By Amanda-Ellen Jojo
AFTER ascertaining her place in the commercial world by holding various positions, Natsai Musarurwa consecutively instituted her two companies, Amras Communications and Rated 18 Shoes, The Entrepreneurial Magazine reports.
Armed with considerable educational and work background in finance and commerce, Musarurwa utilised the knowledge and experience to establish her first company, Amras Communications in 2017.
Amras Communications is a content development firm that offers business writing services such as the compilation of business plans, proposals, economic reports, market reports amongst others.
She said: “Amras Communications was basically a way to sort of leverage what I have been doing all the while I was working for corporates… I recognised that there was a huge gap in terms of that skillset in various organisations. So, I realised that yes I can make money by having a company that outsource some of these functions.”
She actively operated the company for a couple of years till March 2020 when COVID-19 hit. Amidst the peak of COVID-19 induced lockdown in 2020, Musarurwa defied the odds and founded Rated 18 Shoes.
Rated 18 Shoes is a brand that doubles as a purpose driven and profit entity. It empowers child marriage survivors through employment and education.
“The idea first came to me when I was in college, I saw a viral video of a 11-year-old girl sending a message to her family because they wanted to marry her off to a much older man, she somehow escaped and basically sent them a message saying that she would rather die than have to marry this man.
“…This video made me conscious that child marriage is still happening so I started doing some research around child marriage survivors and I realised that there is a lot of advocacy work in order to end child marriage and that is what we are aiming for ultimately so that it does not happen at the end of the day,” Musarurwa recalled.
Musarurwa’s entrepreneurial idea aligned with her set goals of helping people as such, profits obtained from Rated 18 Shoes are used for positive impact on child marriage survivors.
“Being an entrepreneur wasn’t exactly something I knew from a young age, but all I ever wanted to do whilst working or running my company has always been to help people and being able to do that in a way that is meaningful to me in terms of my own values,” Musarurwa said.
Whilst being an entrepreneur, Musarurwa is also simultaneously juggling a fulltime job, though some may think that the two routes are polar opposites, she maintains a different view on that.
“I do not think they are two polar opposites, it depends on the environment of the company that you are working for and that can actually prepare you for running a business
“People think that they are polar opposites because most of them want to be their own boss and not answer to someone but at the end of the day if you are running a business you are already answerable to shareholders, clients, etc,” she explained.
Because of the current adverse macroeconomic environment in Zimbabwe, Musarurwa retook the 9 to 5 job route because of financial problems. A nine to five job is a job done during regular business hours usually in an office.
“As much as I can meet my personal needs, it was very tricky because of COVID-19 and current situation in Zimbabwe to be able to actually plan for long term. I realised that I am not getting any younger, I have to start to lay a foundation for retirement, starting a family and being a home owner.
“Just with how the company was there wasn’t a whole lot of income coming in to plan for those things still run my company efficiently and also live a comfortable life where I also feel that I don’t have to forgo certain things.
“I wanted to be in a space where I could support myself comfortably, have financial freedom and also have money to continue to invest in my business since it is not actually profitable at this point,” she highlighted.
In terms of striking a balance, she admitted that it’s a lot of work that is made possible by being passionate and having good time management.
“It is something that has been so far very doable for me because the job that I am doing is not super strenuous,” she said.
As much as some claim that doing a 9-5 job gives one hands on education to succeed in running an enterprise, Musarurwa thinks it’s one of many ways to achieve practical knowledge pertaining entrepreneurship.
“If one is starting up, fresh out of college and looking for great experience a 9-5 job is one of the ways to learn without having to worry about the financial aspect of running a business fulltime.
“If I were to give advice to someone coming out of college about getting hands on experience, I would definitely encourage them to take the 9-5 route because you get free mentorship from people who have been doing it for years and that knowledge that is passed down to you is so valuable.
“However, there are other ways to get hands on experience and the most effective one is running your company because you have to figure things out things on your own and you can still have mentors that you can find outside your 9-5 job,” she stressed.
On lessons drawn from her experience she said: “It was really a hard decision to go back to the 9-5 route because in a sense it felt like I had failed once you start your own business you shouldn’t be working for other people, I felt upset because I thought I was backtracking.”
For Musarurwa, the detour to a 9-5 job comes with financial security that she is channeling to her enterprise, Rated 18 shoes.
“You just have to keep the bigger picture in mind, a detour is not the end and it’s not failure. In order to catapult yourself forward, you have to pull the catapult back that is the way that I have kind of started it at, I have no regrets at this point and I am very fortunate that the job that I have managed to get is being to check every single personal and professional financial box
“It’s been an interesting adjustment not having the full flexibility that has been the biggest challenge for me that Ii used to have when I was working on my own.
“I am happy because I am able to do things that I needed to do for myself, business a space where am comfortable and not struggling and scrambling for the next dollar that has its own rewards and the aim is to be able to go back to being an entrepreneur on a fulltime basis,” she said.