Faith Katsaura is an award-winning entrepreneur who is challenging the gender bias in her field which is traditionally male-dominated by showing that she is equally capable to be a woman in leadership, running successful businesses, and giving any man a run for their money…
I started off my career at the age of 18 straight after completing my A Levels. At the time, I was still unsure as to what I wanted to study at university so when I was offered an opportunity to be a marketing intern with Hunyani Paper and Packaging I took it. Truth be told, I knew nothing about marketing and I knew nothing about this Industry, what I saw was an opportunity to learn, and as it turns out that decision would lead me to where I am today. An Award-winning Entrepreneur, running two businesses Zuva Printers and Biopak. I fell in love with the world of printing and packaging and knew right then that it was my destiny. I worked at Hunyani for several years and moved on and up the corporate ladder with a few other companies before making the daunting decision to branch out on my own. Starting off with a few printing machines, an eager team, and a HUGE dream, I started Zuva Printers in 2012 and haven’t looked back since then. Zuva Printers offers printing and branding solutions and caters to individuals and corporate. We pride ourselves on our quick service and quality product offering. The business has grown over the past few years and diversified its offering. Last year I launched Biopak Zimbabwe, a subsidiary of Zuva Printers whose mission is to protect and preserve the environment by retailing a wide range of 100% biodegradable packaging. The company has been well received on the market and I’m looking forward to growing the company to a stage where we can manufacture the packaging ourselves.
One of the biggest challenges I have experienced is gender bias. Working in a predominantly male industry I have often found myself in a position where I need to prove my worth in the business. After years of showing and proving that I am qualified and knowledgeable in my field and therefore as capable as any other male would be, I have managed to leave a footprint in the industry.
1. The value and importance of networking.
I was fortunate enough to be a part of several women’s business networks when I started my business. Networking with like-minded women who had been in business for years before I had, as well as other women who were also just starting out gave me an opportunity to market my services to a wide range of women as well as gain valuable insights and connections. Starting off, the support I received through inquiries and orders was valuable.
2. Learning to wear as many caps as is necessary and learning to ask for help when needed.
When I launched Biopak last year, I was reminded what this meant. When the business is just starting, you don’t always have enough income to bring on a team of people. In this case, our team is still extremely small and so I’ve had to be an all-rounder. I do the sales, do the deliveries, and at times I have to be the accountant as well. With Zuva Printers, on the other hand, As the business grew, I quickly realised that it was time to ask for help and by that time we were making enough to hire more qualified staff for key positions.
3. Think BIG, Start small.
The important thing is to start. If you wait for the “perfect time to start a business, that time may never come. It’s more of an excuse than anything else. During a worldwide lockdown period, I made the decision to just start and start small. Almost a year later, the business has made considerable strides in the market already. None of which would have happened if I had waited for “Perfect business conditions”
Over the years I’ve been fortunate enough to have an audience with various groups of women. Established entrepreneurs and upcoming entrepreneurs. I’ve noticed that some of the most pressing hindrances are fear of failure, lack of training, limited access to funding for starting a business and for scaling a business, as well as access to markets. Fortunately, there are women’s organisations such as the ZNCC Women’s Desk that have tried to address some of these issues for women, by holding workshops that help to train women in various aspects as well as giving them opportunities to access markets they would not ordinarily have access to. It’s important to hold memberships with business associations so that you can have this information that you will benefit from immensely at your fingertips.
Balance is a myth (laughs). Seriously though it’s very hard to strike a balance between being a mother and a business owner. Over the years what I’ve learned is your support system around you makes it bearable. On days when I need to focus more on work because of deadlines or pending projects, I’m thankful for family around me that can take care of the kids. On other days when I need to be in mummy mode more, I have a trusted team in place that makes sure the job gets done in my absence.
Formalisation of businesses is definitely an important milestone for any woman-owned business. In order to get more women to formalise their business, it’s necessary to educate them as to why it is important, show them the benefits of formalisation as well as make the process affordable and seamless. There are so many opportunities that exist to do business with large Corporates and Governments, but we lose out on a lot of available markets because our businesses are not registered and formalised.
“When the Phoenix resurrects from the flames, she is even more beautiful than before” This quote has gotten me through murky waters, personally and in business. It reminds me that regardless of what life may throw my way, I have the power within me to rise above the challenges. So, I would like to say to you upcoming or existing entrepreneurs. Setbacks will come, at times you may feel like all is lost, however, you can pick yourself up, adjust your sails if need be, and rise.