She recently won a business award, runs a number of successful small businesses ranging from furniture, clothing and hardware, and her fashion trends are top-notch. When you see her today, you will think all has been rosy and colourful. The Weight She Carries spoke to Silivia Choruwa to hear how it all began.
Choruwa grew up in the rural areas in Zimbabwe and was born into a very poor family. Her background did not stop her from dreaming, praying and working towards achieving her dreams and goals.
“I was motivated by the passion to be a businesswoman and live a different life from the one I lived,” she said.
Choruwa started small and began selling goods from a small table at a flea market in Mandava Township, a high-density suburb in Zvishavane, Zimbabwe.
“In the beginning it was not so easy. I have been through the hardest situations, from sleeping hungry to going for days without a bath at Chirundu border post (which links Zimbabwe and Zambia),” she said.
Choruwa did not stop at fulfilling her vision of being a businesswoman. Back in 2007, the mining town of Zvishavane only had two furniture shops that had unaffordable prices for most people in the town, which survives mainly on artisanal and small-scale mining.
Choruwa thought of this as a big opportunity to grow her business and started off by selling pieces of furniture which she wasn’t using in her house. After this, she was able to starting importing more furniture and her small table was no longer suitable for the growing business.
With the assistance of a friend, she opened a small shop in the Central Business District (CBD). This was the birth of Isheanopa Investments, a department store offering clothing, furniture and hardware equipment.
Just when she thought she was beginning to soar, an unfortunate incident happened. She lost almost all of her stock to robbers. This was a big shock to her, but she continued believing in herself and that’s how she managed to get back on her feet.
Raising a family can be difficult, especially if you are woman trying to juggle business and managing the home. It becomes even more challenging when your husband leaves you and you have to handle everything, including taking care of two children.
“I managed to balance family and business through determination and learning to allocate time evenly between work and home. Never mix the two. Hard work is also essential in it all,” she said.
Choruwa is not only a businesswoman, she’s also a motivational speaker. She has been a regular guest at functions teaching about giving and entrepreneurship for women. She says she enjoys public speaking and always uses simple language that can be understood by everyone.
She encourages women to believe in themselves as this is the first key to business development.
“Do not give up and be a hard worker. Look for various streams of income,” she said. “I am a businesswoman. I am into furniture, clothing and hardware. Recently I ventured into poultry farming. I also sell vegetables and scouring powder which I buy from highway vendors and resell.
Choruwa is a Christian and her business is rooted in prayer. She says God is the inspiration behind the name of her company Isheanopa Investments.
“I believe in God and that whatever we need comes from Him. Isheanopa means ‘God gives’ and I took it from Deuteronomy 8:18 (NIV), which says; ‘But remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant, which he swore to your ancestors, as it is today,’” She said.
“I am also a giver, I have learnt that if you give, you will be blessed, it’s the hand that gives that will be blessed. I do not give because I have but because I know what it is like to have nothing in your pockets. My power verses are Luke 6:38 which talks about giving and Jeremiah 17:7 which encourages us to be established in the Lord.”
Her recent award, Midlands Business Woman of the Year, was handed to her by Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce (ZNCC). She was overwhelmed and could not say much except offer her gratitude to her staff, who make life easy for her; her children, whom she says are supportive; the community, which supports her by buying her products; and, of course, God Almighty.
Phoebie Shamiso Chigonde is a journalist passionate about gender equality, social development programmes and grassroots-based solution seeking initiatives. She has a passion for women and community development. Phoebie is also a radio personality at a regional commercial radio station, a platform that enables her to network with like-minded women, journalists and activists as she continues to document and tell the story of the ordinary woman from the lens of that very ordinary woman.