Pearl Mbazima is a 40-year-old mother of three who lives in Mazowe, Zimbabwe. She is an accountant/auditor by profession. She studied for her Bachelor of Accounting Science with UNISA and did her Articles of Clerkship with Ernst & Young straight after her A Levels at Chisipite Senior School.
She describes herself as a fun-loving, gregarious and highly intelligent woman with a passion for all things that empower women and girls, and young people in general. Her favorite things to do include travelling, reading, writing and hanging out with her children. Interestingly enough, training in entreprenuership is one of her favorite things to do, even though it’s also her work.
How did you know entreprenuership was your passion?
I knew that training in entrepreneurship was my passion quite by surprise. I have always loved being a consultant, my work in auditing made giving advice on how to improve business operations second nature. At the end of every assignment we had to advise the client on how to improve. This always entailed breaking down the business to understand its little parts and how they all fit in together, otherwise you would give useless advice. I enjoyed this. However, I never considered myself a people person, never thought I’d ever want to stand in front of an audience and [give] advice to a group.
So when I was asked to train as a trainer, at first I literally laughed at the idea. Then being a mother that needed to put food on the table, I reconsidered and applied myself to the task. I discovered that I loved it, and in this way, quite by accident, stumbled upon my passion.
How do you manage being a public figure, running businesses and being a mum of three?
I do not consider myself a public figure at all, and if I could avoid it I would. I enjoy having a private life, the scrutiny that public figures have to put up with is something I could not stand. Running businesses and being a mother of three is a constant guilt trip, you always feel like you are not giving one or the other the kind of attention it deserves.
Being in my 40s now, I have learnt to embrace the uncomfortable emotions like guilt, and accept that I will have to live with them for a bit. It’s the phase of life I’m in, so it’s kind of inherent. I look at how my parents managed this era I’m in when they were my age and realize it’s very difficult to do it any other way. Your career is peaking, and your kids are peaking. You just have to do your best.
How did you know you had a passion on entrepreuership?
I realized that entrepreneurship was my passion when I realized that I did not enjoy working for other people and taking instructions regularly, especially when those instructions were not making sense to me and I felt there was a better way of doing things. Thus I realized I was made to be an entrepreneur and not an employee. That being said, even as an entrepreneur, you still need to take instructions from your clients. So it’s not as independent as some would make it seem, but there is just more latitude to do what you feel is important to you and still get paid.
Being a single mum and a phenomenal woman, what does women empowerment mean to you?
Women’s empowerment resonates very strongly with me. I feel I was fortunate to have gone to the schools I went to and gotten the professional training that I did. However, when family responsibilities started coming my way, I had to work very hard and become very creative to put food on the table. I used every skill that I ever learnt to stay afloat. It made me think, “What about the women who never got opportunities to learn the skills I have? How will they cope, what will their children eat and wear? How will that affect the next generation?” I decided there and then that I would work in this field and derive great enjoyment from making sure that women and girls have skills that enable them to survive with dignity, and not have to resort to illegal or shameful acts in order to look after themselves and any children that they might have.
Tell us about your magazine Fempreneurs and LASACCO.
The magazine Fempreneurs was created to showcase the achievements of women in business. When women read stories of success by other women, they are motivated to emulate them, and this drives the entrepreneurship agenda very nicely. It’s also an opportunity for women to advertise and reach a wider audience. Our digital print is now on 25,000 readers and growing. We would like to grow that number of readers by x10 by the end of 2021.
Fempreneurs Magazine also teaches women about savings and investments, which is in support of LASACCO. LASACCO stands for LaFemme Savings and Credit Cooperative. It’s a group of women determined to empower themselves financially by saving together and accessing loans for business start up and or growth. We are registered with the Ministry of SMEs and Gender as a Cooperative. Both LASACCO and Fempreneurs Magazine have been running for 4 years now, since 2016.
What is Peta Agro Initiatives and what is the drive behind it? How do you manage diverse initiatives?
That’s a surprise question there Tafadzwa, lol. Peta is fairly new and I hadn’t realized that you had picked that entity up. Peta Agro Initiatives is an offshoot of Entrepreneurszw (the training arm). As we ran various courses in Entrepreneurzw in Entrepreneurship and Financial Literacy, we realized that the agricultural side of the women’s businesses needed special attention and that there was a lot of demand for it. I partnered up with my good friend and agriculture graduate Tabeth Manyonga, and together we started Peta Agro Initiatives.
It focuses on providing professional training on the business of farming, and has as one of its main agendas, the achievement of Food Security for Zimbabwe. We believe our activities will contribute significantly towards Zimbabwe regaining its Bread Basket Status as our motto is “Every Family Producing More, Beyond Subsistence.” We work with farmers from all levels, from balcony farmers all the way up to commercial farmers. We are humbled by the appreciation we receive from the farmers for the work we are doing.
Peta is now a stand alone business, separate from Entrepreneurszw and focusing exclusively on Agro Consultancy and Promotion.
What is your opinion on the patriarchal thought that a single mum cannot make it because of no help from a man?
Wow!! A lot of times single moms are looked down upon by both genders, perceived to be sluts, always ready to sell sex for favors or steal someone’s husband. Sometimes single women themselves look down on themselves. I cannot tell you how annoying I find it when someone in their first sentence of introduction says, “My name is Pearl and I’m a single mother” as if that’s your single greatest achievement. Single women must see their singleness as an asset that they can use to do more in business because they do not have the encumbrance of having to rush home to look after a husband.
Being married has its benefits [for] sure but here we are considering the benefits of being single. Single moms have more time to hustle hard if they manage their time well. Of course, the children need attention, but with a good routine in the home, and a strict bedtime for minors, single mothers can achieve much with the time left.
The patriarchal society will always have its opinions about single moms, but our job is not to mind them. They’re entitled to their opinions. Our job is to hustle, succeed, and prosper because we can, and we will.
What challenges have you faced in your journey and how did you overcome?
Yoh, I have faced so many challenges and continue to face them. The journey of an entrepreneur is not a straight line going upwards, it’s a line that goes up, then comes down, and goes up again. Over time you will see a steady increase, where the lows aren’t as low as the previous ones, but they are there nontheless.
Challenges is just one other thing you must learn to accept, embrace and live with as an entrepreneur. They include cash flow challenges, difficulty in accessing the finance you need, managing human resources, reaching your markets, lack of knowledge and experience, selecting the wrong business partners, launching products nobody wants to buy etc etc. I have met all these challenges before, learnt and moved on, and I continue to learn from the new challenges I meet from day to day.
What is your advise to other women who want to venture in business?
Go for it!!! Do not be ashamed of small beginnings if that’s where you have to start. Growth comes as you work and not before you start.