By Caroline Chiimba
WOMEN are often underrepresented in the manufacturing sector with research showing that they make up about 47 percent of the total workforce, yet only one in four manufacturing leaders are women. The trend has been changing over the years with more women joining the labor taskforce thou a lot still needs to be done in getting more women behind the leadership wheel, stirring it on.
Kudzayi Dave is one exemplary leader who has been in the industry for 22 years. She founded K Davie Packaging Pvt (Ltd) in 1999, a company that produces a range of packaging products which are being consumed by some of the front-line companies in Zimbabwe to date. She starting off her business as a commodity broker until 2008 when she diversified into paper packaging.
“For a good 10 years I undertook commodity broking. The push factor came in 2008, when our economy went through a turmoil, like the current situation right now in our nation. Trading was not paying off, we had no sales, during that period, straight away I knew we had to diversify,” Dave told The Entrepreneurial Magazine.
“We diversified in-order to fulfill the vision of living a better life. Being a producer in manufacturing, we had total control of our prices which gave us an upper hand. Above all, as a staunch believer, I took hid of my Pastor’s word who was telling us to stop trading so we could do real business. I had to think outside the box knowing that change never stops.”
While the changing business circumstances in the hyperinflationary period in Zimbabwe led to the folding of many packaging companies in the country, K Dave Packaging survived the storm.
“Having a clear vison and passion has carried us through and helped us understand our market. Staying focused made us remain afloat. You can only drive with enthusiasm and energy if the vision is clear,” Dave added.
“The secret to be carried through to this extent is grace. Passion is what drives the vision, Grace meets preparedness. As an individual I was prepared. Believing in myself that I can do it. Having ownership on what we do. Keep it moving, do not major on minor things.”
K. Davie Packaging offers an extensive scope of products which include: corrugated packaging boxes; Customised production of: corrugated boxes, fillers for various industries including Beverages, Agriculture, Food, Oil , Gas and Mining. They corrugated packaging facilities in different sectors amongst them are the manufacturing sector, agricultural sector, food products, pharmaceuticals, electronics distillers and beverage industry.
Some of their distinguished clients Bata, Kango, Dairibord and Cairns Foods among others. The company produces 250 tonnes of packaging per month, controlling 35% market share in Southern Zimbabwe and 10% market share in Southern Africa.
“Like everyone else, while we built the company from the ground, we faced the same challenges as a new supplier as we were trying to penetrate the market. Clients took time to believe in our products. At times you’re perceived the wrong way. New innovations and new suppliers are not easily received. It took time to build our brand, although we are almost there,” Dave pointed out.
Commenting on the ravaging effects on the COVID-19 pandemic, Dave said the pandemic only affected the company in the beginning as they were still trying to understand what was going on. However, as an essential service provider they worked throughout adhering to the COVID-19 regulations.
“There are different levels of trading floors that we operate on. Understand who you are and the level you are at. Few people accept change, don’t encroach into someone else’s lane. I run my own race. I am someone still building my brand with my own principles,” she said.
Her business acumen expanded from a one-man band working in one room to employing 30 people. She is also dedicated to helping others and developing future generations through supporting orphans and underprivileged women in society.
“Without our communities, staff, shareholders and customers there would be no K. Davie Packaging (Pvt) LTD. As an organisation we seek to eradicate poverty in the community we live and work through seeking entrepreneur opportunities for women, disadvantaged groups and the youth. Each year we support through; paying school fees for the less privileged children, life skills training and start up grants, while supporting local community initiatives,” Dave said.
“My dream that turned into a Vision was to live a better life in comparison to my childhood experience. Growing up, I had always known that I wanted to become someone very successful. A business woman who will play a significant role in impacting other people’s lives regardless of how my personal experience was, as a child. The moment you cease to dream, the vision kicks in and takes over.”
Dave is also the Visionary and Chairlady of Polished Diamonds which aims to empower other women develop their potential to the fullest by helping them turn their business ideas to reality. She is the Chair Lady of Go Getter Zimbabwe, helping ex University students find their pathways.
Recently she received an award as the 1st Runner Up for the ZNCC Business Woman of the Year Award Mashonaland Region. She was presented with an Honorary Doctorate of Human Letters Degree from International Institute of Philanthropy.
In 2015, she was awarded the business women of the year and as well as the top female business leader on the year in the packaging Industry from the Women’s Leadership Award.
“I look at a rose with beautiful petals. We celebrate because the thorns have roses and sad because roses have thorns. No one knows exactly what I have been through, during my deepest darkest times, through the fire but it did not consume me. The deepest waters did not drown me and the valley was made plain. I learnt to accept my situation as this prepared me for who I am today. I have a high resolution of intuition,” Dave bared her soul to The Entrepreneurial Magazine.
Sharing her business tips, Dave advised entrepreneurs and start-ups to have the patience to wait for the business to grow thus delayed gratification.
“Stay focused and work through your business step by step. Don’t focus on maintaining ‘social status’ the pressure will mount on you. Be wise, there will be continuity of building up the resources required. Also, as you diversify, remain focused on the base. Make sure it’s stable in order to sustain itself,” she concluded.