Pretty Dube has become a popular face in the streets of Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, over the years with her trolley of lunch boxes filled with colourful sweets and a smile to go with it.
She shares how her journey began with The Weight She Carries.
“I started selling freezits (freezies) when l was in grade three. We were raised by a single mother – six of us, me being the second born. Seeing my mother struggle to put food on the table really tore me apart.
One day l asked if she could buy me a pack of freezits to sell after school at the local shopping centre. My first pack sold out in a very short time, which gave me so much pride. On the second day after selling all my merchandise, some ladies advised me on where l could get freezits at a reasonable price.
On the third day after selling out, l gathered my courage and went to restock. Funny enough, just after l left, my mother came to check on me and panicked when she found that l was not at my usual spot. She was shocked but surprised at the amount of dedication l had towards the project.
Soon after, my business grew from just 3 packets to 15 packets and l began to incorporate other items such as wild seasonal fruit, roasted peanuts, and sweets as well. l continued buying and selling, which has become my livelihood to this day.
My motivation when l was younger was to never miss school due to the lack of school fees.
Now it has become a passion that has helped me take care of my children, buy a residential stand (which l am slowly building), buy a car, and be asked to speak and encourage the youth and my fellow entrepreneurs on several different platforms.
I hope someday to become a wholesaler, but for now, l am motivated daily to press on and work hard to continue taking part in the women’s clubs, which has immensely helped me achieve what l have so far.
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Just to take you back a bit…
l met a guy and fell in love with him. With my mother’s blessing, we began living together. His finances were not stable, but my mother encouraged me to stand by him and help him as much as l could, and things started looking up for him.
Along the way something happened and he changed. He tried to discourage me from selling sweets, but l knew that this was what l wanted to do no matter how attractive other business ideas were.
When my daughter was almost 3 and my son 3 weeks old, he made a decision to move out of the house. To be honest, l was shattered and miserable. It took a toll on me both spiritually and physically. l questioned God as to why l was even created, my feet and hands became numb due to high blood pressure. l was just a mess.
Three times he went to court with his new woman to apply for sole custody of the kids and he was denied. They tried all kinds of tricks to rattle me until l sought a peace order. l later learned to accept that he did not love me anymore and began focusing on picking myself up for the sake of my children and myself.
Each time l wanted to react l thought of my children and what would happen to them if l ended up in jail, so l held my peace as much as l could.
As l was in the process of picking up the pieces of my life, he went and knelt down before my mother and begged for forgiveness. When my mother told me this l could not believe it.
Afterwards, he gave me a call and asked that we make peace. l informed him that l had made peace with everything, and the only thing l wanted from him was to be present in his children’s lives. But to this day, l haven’t seen anything from him, which pushes me to carry on with my business and make sure my children are well taken care of.
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ln parting, l would like to encourage someone out there to stand firm no matter what. Even if it is easier said than done. Trust that everything that happens is a test to make us stronger and wiser.