CAROLE Nyakudya narrates the scaling up journey of Lorac, a brand to reckon with in international spheres. She explains how a small idea of starting a charity foundation to give back to the community has diversified into various business sectors including health, property and the media.
Can you give us a brief background about yourself?
I’m a businesswoman based in Birmingham, United Kingdom. I’m married and am a mother to three wonderful boys. I’m a holder of a Diploma in Mental Health Nursing attained at Birmingham University, Bsc in Health Studies at Wolverhampton University and an M.Sc. in Public Health and Health Development attained at Birmingham City University.
I also underwent business and entrepreneurship training at Birmingham City University after being seconded for the European Union’s Bseen programme.
I’m generally a compassionate person with the heart to uplift those around me, which reflects in my journey.
Tell us more about your journey, how did you end up in the diaspora?
I lost my mother quite early in my life. My mother was very young when she passed on. She was just 37. Obviously, losing a parent at such a young age affected me and eventually meant I had to move to the UK with the help of a relative. An aunt of mine then told me about mental health. She sparked some interest and I ended up doing a Diploma in Mental Health Nursing at Birmingham University.
What pulled or pushed you into entrepreneurship in a foreign land?
My passion was always to equip people with quality mental healthcare to make informed and healthy decisions about themselves, their relationships and their future. So, after working in the National Health Service between 2001 and 2016 in various positions, rising through middle and senior management, I decided it was time to take a leap of faith and set up Lorac Health. Of course, before that I had already set up Lorac Foundation.
The underpinning reason was to impact and transform people’s lives in a tremendous way. I believe strongly that I was born to impact God’s people and empower them to become better versions of themselves. You’ll also notice our vision is to impact the community positively in as far as meeting mental health needs and enabling them to regain confidence and re-establish them in the community and gain independent life skills.
Can you please tell us more about Lorac
The Lorac brand has transformed into a group of five companies, each servicing specific needs of target communities. Besides the founding Lorac Foundation, we have Lorac Healthcare and sister units including Lorac Holdings, which was set up in 2017 and is into property business in Johannesburg, South Africa and Lorac Media and Lorac International.
We are headquartered in Birmingham, United Kingdom and have a presence in South Africa, Zimbabwe, Uganda, Ghana and we’re looking at expanding into Botswana as well.
What services or products does your company offer?
Our latest company in the group, Lorac International is a specialist recruitment organisation for UK Home Office approved providers. The company, which has branches in Zimbabwe, Uganda, Ghana and South Africa provides specially trained quality staffing for the UK market.
Lorac Healthcare is a specialist mental health and learning disabilities supported living service based in the UK. We’ve been registered since 2013. We offer a service that looks after young people who’ve been in care [whose parents couldn’t look after]. We connect with them at 16 and help them with their independent living. In essence, we prepare them for adulthood so that they can be functional adults that impact their respective communities positively. We also support adults who have mental health needs and learning disability needs from age 18 to 65. We have properties across the UK where these young people and adults with learning disabilities become a part of. Our capable staff members are in those houses to support them.
Lorac Holdings is into the property business in Johannesburg while Lorac Media provides innovative and effective integrated brand marketing and public relations solutions which help our clients grow their businesses and realize their marketing goals. The Foundation then takes care of the Charity side of things.
How was it like establishing a business as a foreigner and how did the community receive your products or services?
I don’t think any entrepreneur will ever tell you that starting their business was easy. Of course, it was challenging more so doing it in the diaspora. However, as we faithfully built the business, the community embraced our services. The most fulfilling thing about the business we started with was seeing one life after another impacted positively by our staff.
How has been the experience of working away from home?
Look, it obviously comes with its own challenges, but one adjusts over time. But we try as much as we can to stay in touch with our roots. Perhaps that is why we’re inspired by a broader vision to contribute to the development of our beautiful continent Africa. Being an African, I understand the challenges that our continent faces and would like, in our own way, to bridge the gaps where we can. If we can create a job for one family, that goes a long way in changing a family’s life.
What are some of the challenges you have faced in your entrepreneurial journey and what inspired you to keep on going?
The one thing that keeps us going as we face various challenges along the way is the bigger picture – the vision itself. Habakkuk 2:2-3 is one of the scriptures that keeps me, as an individual, going. It reads: “This vision-message is a witness pointing to what’s coming. It aches for the coming—it can hardly wait! And it doesn’t lie. If it seems slow in coming, wait. It’s on its way. It will come right on time.”
So, even when challenges come, we keep trudging forward by God’s grace.
What advice would you give to other young and aspiring entrepreneurs out there?
My advice to them is to find their passion, sharpen their skills as much as they can and then dream. Thereafter, chase that dream relentlessly until it becomes a reality. Challenges will obviously come, but keep going, keep learning and don’t stop dreaming!
Do you see yourself expanding your business to Zimbabwe or investing back home business wise?
Our broader vision is to be able to make a positive impact in Sub-Saharan Africa in terms of meeting the need for job creation and the needs of the UK in terms of job supply and demand. Over the next two to five years, we’re looking to diversify our portfolio as well as expand our footprint across Sub-Saharan Africa. It would give us joy to create as many jobs as we can. Zimbabwe, where we already have an office, is already part of that.
This article was first published in the August Issue of The Entrepreneurial Magazine under the topic, ” Zimbabwean Entrepreneurs Breaking the ceiling glass in the diaspora.”