…..GWGB aims beyond NAM borders
AS the founder and managing director of Good Women Good Business (GWGB), Ujama Mushimba wanted to be the support for upcoming women entrepreneurs that she didn’t have as a budding businesswoman. GWGB is a network and a Venture Capital Fund that is focused on developing women in business, those who aspire to get into business and those that want to better their lives. Ujama recently spoke in detail about the business venture with Confidente’s Marianne Nghidengwa (MN) plus lessons she learned from her late father, renowned businessman Aaron Mushimba.
MN: Tell us about yourself and upbringing?
UM: I was born in a refugee camp to parents that dedicated their lives to the liberation struggle of Namibia. With that dynamic and as part of most of my upbringing, life was eventful. In true Ubuntu style, I was raised by a village of uncles and aunties. The upbringing had its ups and downs, but mostly it was fun. I grew up in a loving home, full of laughter but loads of hard work. My parents had a crazy work ethic and they instilled that in me. Growing up a Mushimba meant you had to put your best foot forward all the time and always show up or not at all. That was true about school, friendships, society and everything else. Either you show up or not at all.
MN: Congratulations on the launch of GWGB. Tell us a little bit about the initiative.
UM: Thank you! Good Women Good Business is a network and a Venture Capital Fund that is focused on developing women in business, those who aspire to get into business and all women who want to better their lives. The network has a number of programmes and initiates where we focus on self-development, whether you are starting out in business or you have been in business and just want to get better. We are for you. As for the fund, the mandate is that of growing entrepreneurs, those who have been in business for a few years, have made good progress but are looking to expand beyond the growth stage to become mature enterprises. Here, we will look at factors like your business strategy, your cash flows and a few other components to see if one is worthy of investors. If we have the appetite for it, we will then offer to buy equity in the business, which means we become partners who will own part the business. The upside of equity is that you will now have access to our resource’s arsenal. That’s all our finance and investment team, our sustainability department and our marketing department will also become yours. The down side is that we will now make decisions together as oppose to the entrepreneur in isolation, which if you really think about it, is a not so bad a down side. If we feel you still need help to strengthen your business case, we will absorb you into the network and work with you until the case is solid and investor worthy. So it’s really a place where we give women the support I wish I had when I was starting out in business and after the passing of my late father.
MN: Why was it important for you to start GWGB?
UM: After my father passed on, I no longer had that sounding board that he was. He gave me loads of support, access and sound advice, but after his death I felt all alone and had to try and figure out a lot by myself. I also believe that the best University in the world is that of doers, and so I learnt a lot, made a bunch of mistakes but I never felt like I was failing. So, all the mistakes I made and pitfalls I went through made me the woman you see today. I went through that so that the generation behind doesn’t have to. That is what pushed me to start GWGB.
MN: Your late father was a prominent businessman. What have you learn from him that has helped you to this stage, which you also wish to share with other aspiring entrepreneurs?
UM: He was a wonderful man. Aaron Mushimba taught me life the Aaron Mushimba’s way. He taught me the value of time, that your net worth is in your network, keeping relationships, navigating difficult situations and difficult people and ultimately a work ethic like no other. Most importantly he taught me to never stop learning, to keep pushing yourself and be your own competition. People are meant to be loved and not to be in competition with. And in the networking, I share a lot of that and weave them into everyday life, geared to inspire one to win. I am a result of nature and a product of nurture and I am happy with who I am and a lot of it has to do with parents and I am daily grateful for them.
MN: What were the challenges you faced in establishing yourself as an entrepreneur, GWGB and how did you overcome them?
UM: I don’t think anybody ever establishes themselves as an entrepreneur, because without the support of society you will not go anywhere. However mastering the basics is equally important, and I think I did few things right in the beginning. I got a great team around me, did my research, had a clear plan and found my “why”. You must always ask why you are into business and if you are not confident in it, wait until its strong enough. You must always be tied to bettering society and not just about money and yourself. With that said, I think the challenges I faced are not unique to me but we had to deal with what every entrepreneur faces; funding, access to market, stereotype, discouragement and self-doubt. But because the “why”was strong enough I soldiered on and here I am today nowhere near where I want to be but far from where I started – like life, entrepreneurship is a journey, not a destination.
MN: Where do you see GWGB in the next 5 to 10 years and what do you hope to achieve for women benefiting from it?
UM: I enjoy answering this question because our “why” is strong, in the next 5-10 years our business will be a Pan-African business, some will have gone global and we will expand to nearly impossible markets. But that’s because we love people and enjoy seeing them succeed and so we believe that for ourselves too.
MN: What advice do you have for fellow women and youth aspiring to be entrepreneurs?
UM: Find your “why”, do your research, find a network of people that will support and encourage you on this journey because entrepreneurship can be lonely. Believe in yourself and take the leap. As long as it’s not hurting anyone, it’s not illegal or infringing on the morale fiber of society, go for it. Do it. I believe in you.And if you need my help, join the network and let’s walk this journey together.
MN: What don’t people know about you?
UM: I am a strong believer in Christ. I enjoy being around people, great food and having exceptional conversations are who I am. I believe the pulse of life is doing life with others.
MN: Just what do you do for a little fun?
UM: I travel as much as I can and I enjoy doing it with my daughters, those two are my world and my best friends.
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