Today, Sheila Chanda Bwali describes herself as a very enthusiastic person who is deeply passionate about what she does and a strong believer in innovation and creativity.
Sheila runs an organization called Workit, a company management system that helps employees work collaboratively with each other by increasing efficiency and productivity using an interoperable ecosystem of different software.
“I thought of creating this because I saw that a lot of companies pay a lot of money to maintain and acquire the same software,” Sheila told The Weight She Carries. “I identified the problem and came up with a solution to have a one-system-fits-all, which will be a need for each and every company and business running both small-scale and large-scale.”
But things weren’t always rosy. Both her parents are deceased, and the loss of her mother was particularly difficult. Despite the devastating losses, Sheila was determined to remain ambitious and pursue her dreams.
Tell us more about your upbringing.
I am the thirdborn in a family of six: three boys and three girls. I grew up in a Christian home. We didn’t really have much, but our home was always filled with love and joy all the time. My siblings and I were fortunate enough to be blessed with second father, so we really didn’t feel the pain of not having a father around.
Growing up, my mother always told me that a woman does not belong to the kitchen but rather where her mind and her heart says she belongs. And therefore, she made me and my brothers do chores equally.
Tell us about the passing of your parents.
My father died when I was three and my younger brother was only a year old. I don’t remember much about him because I was young at the time of his passing and have very few blurry memories of him. But I remember the time my mother died as if it was yesterday because she was my best friend. We shared so many memories together that up to now, I still can’t comprehend the fact that she’s no more. She died in 2012 from a tumour that had started growing inside her womb.
How did you deal with grief?
It’s hard losing someone you love, especially if you spent every day with that person, and now you have to wake up knowing you won’t see them anymore. But the best thing to do in times like this is to pray, and let God do the rest. Prayer has really helped me deal [with] my grief and so many things and also reading a lot of books to distract my mind from reality.
Losing both my parents has taught me a lot of things. One of them is that I am stronger than I think I am. And secondly, that I am not defined by the unfortunate things that have happened in my life. I am stronger and wiser today than I was yesterday.
When life today decides to give you lemons, it’s up to you to decide whether to cry and complain about how bitter and sour they are, or you can make lemonade out of it. Life is all about how you perceive it to be. You decide to either be happy or sad, and for me, I choose to be happy. And look, the positive part of me losing both my parents is that it has made me a stronger and better person.
What advice can you give to women who want to start business ventures?
The best advice I always give is don’t wait until you have a lot of money. Start with whatever you have in your hands because there is no better time than the present.
What is your advice to people who are going through loss?
The loss of a loved one is not the end. It’s actually a new chapter for us to carry on with our lives without them. It’s not easy, but find something that makes you happy or something you are passionate about, and try to focus your energy into it. Before you know [it], the pain will have started going away slowly.