Ruth Butaumocho Gender Profile
At five, when girls of her age were fussing over dolls and playing with toys, Eunice Dlamini was already mapping her way into entrepreneurship by selling different merchandise to assist in the family upkeep.
Little did she know that the experience she was getting from other family members would one day come handy in starting her own company.
More than four decades after learning the skills of trade from her hardworking mother while growing up in Bulawayo, Mrs Dlamini (52) is now a savvy businesswoman of repute in the City of Kings.
She was voted the Megafest Northen Region Businesswoman of the Year 2014 for successfully running her business concern, M & M Joyous Events, which specialises in events management.
She was also voted the Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce Matabeleland Businesswoman of the Year 2014 and also received an award of excellence in business in 2012.
In 2012, she was voted the Entrepreneur of the Year for the Southern Region.
Once a vegetable vendor, a former nurse, midwife, a tutor by profession, a development worker by design and a businesswoman by choice, Mrs Dlamini is living her dream.
“I was born a businesswoman. I was never content with being an ordinary individual and having just enough.
“I had always wanted to lead a comfortable life,” she revealed during an interview in Bulawayo recently.
The company which was born at the height of the economic crisis in 2007 has grown in the past eight years, earning her fame and fortune and is set to spread its tentacles to other cities if everything goes according to plan.
“By running this company, I am living my dream. I did not expect the business to grow at such speed, considering a number of teething problems we faced when I went into business,” she said.
Because she had set her sights on business, Mrs Dlamini, who trained as a nurse after failing to satisfy requirements of becoming an air hostess because of her height, started by selling different merchandise at work.
“While working at rural hospitals I decided to sell vegetables, which I would source around the communities for resale in towns.
“I was gratified by the fact that I was getting a modest income for my efforts. This was the beginning of my career as a business person,” she said.
Her sales would double when she was off from work, because she would utilise the time to move around communities buying vegetables and linen for resale. In between reconciling her books and making new orders, Mrs Dlamini was also studying for various courses in the health field.
Having worked a few years at Mpilo and United Bulawayo Hospital respectively, Mrs Dlamini joined the private sector, SWV Netherlands.
She however, did not discard her long-term goal of becoming an entrepreneur.
It was while she was working for SWN Netherlands that her vision was renewed with vigour, after one of her workmates Nicholas Nyathi, encouraged her to start a business.
“I had always set my sights on catering because of the exposure I had through travelling around the region. Since I was now earning in foreign currency, I started buying equipment towards that project,” she recalled.
By 2007, she had bought enough equipment to start the project.
After leaving formal employment, Mrs Dlamini used $30 000 from her severance package to build a conference and catering facility in Bulawayo, which she intended to use to host weddings and other events, in line with her newly found passion.
Equipped with state-of-the-art catering equipment and an imposing building which was under construction, Mrs Dlamini still had no idea how she would kick-start her business.
As she was pondering on whether to hire experts to start the project or do it herself, her husband’s niece approached her to organise a family function, which turned out to be a success.
That occasion signalled the birth of M& M Joyous Events – an acronym for the name of her two children – Mnqobi and Mgogi.
Her husband, who had not been supportive of her previous business ventures, immediately offered her support after realising the zeal, passion and determination she had of running her own business.
“By that time I had not registered the business because I was still regarding it as a hobby. But as more orders continued pouring in, we registered the company so that we would operate professionally and get business from big companies and the corporate world,” said Mrs Dlamini.
Like any other business, M&M Joyous Events experienced a lot of teething problems, which threatened to derail the company’s growth.
At one time the company did not have enough funding to meet client’s orders, and had to contend with working with inexperienced bookkeepers, resulting in serious financial mess.
Looking back, Mrs Dlamini concedes that running the company has not been easy, but her determination to turn the company into a successful and viable venture has been fundamental in keeping the dream and vision alive.
With the support of her husband, Mrs Dlamini has successfully grown her brand and is planning to open branches in several towns and cities.
An ardent supporter of indigenisation, she believes Zimbabweans have good business acumen, which needs to be supported by resources and supportive legislation.
“Entrepreneurship has been fundamental in the sustenance of the country’s economy.
“Within all these business activities, women of all ages have been playing a crucial role and they will need to be supported so that they can take their businesses to another level,” said the mother of three.