SHIKANDA KAWANGA, Livingstone
AS A young girl, Namakau Sianga always wanted to be an entrepreneur. Now 34 years old, she recalls how at one time she picked fruits from the orchard at home and sold them despite coming from a well to-do family.
â€œWe had a big farm with fruits that dropped off from cashew tree, women would come from the surrounding compounds to pick the fruits for sale, one day I told them to make a queue and asked them to pay for the fruits they picked,â€ she says.
She said when her father knew about it, she was beaten as it was embarrassing for a financially stable family to have its member selling fruits to the poor women coming from the surrounding townships.
â€œMy parents could not realise the business woman in me, because if they did, they would have developed it at a tender age,â€ she said.
My parents were high profile people, who wondered as to why their child would wake up in the morning to sell cashew nuts and fruits.
Mrs Siangaâ€™s dream of becoming an entrepreneur was, however, not shattered even after receiving a beating from her father.
She disclosed that her father gave her the best education with the hope of convincing her to become a lawyer.
â€œEven up to now my father still wants me to study law and always tells me that I can make a good lawyer,â€ she said.
Mrs Sianga said career issues must not be based on what parents want a child to become but on what an individual is passionate about because itâ€™s fulfilling to do something one loves.
â€œThe realisation of oneâ€™s ability, or oneâ€™s full potential must be developed because I believe everyone performs better in a career they are passionate about,â€
She believes that people have to follow their passion if they are to live their dreams.
However, as she grew older, she developed a fascination towards a challenging business venture considered as a male dominated sector.
Armed with a passion of venturing in a challenging business, Mrs Sianga formed Nas Glass and Aluminum Construction Company, dealing in glass and aluminum fitting for buildings.
Mrs Sianga who is trained in social work, psycho-socio counselling, and public relations said after trying out other businesses she decided to start a construction company.
â€œBefore I joined the construction sector, I also sold chickens, ordered pigs to make some pork pre-parks for sale and a lot of other businesses, but then, I realised that it did not bring the best of me even when I made profit, not until five years ago when I started my construction company,â€™â€™ she says.
Mrs Sianga who is currently pursuing a degree in entrepreneurship can boast of having visited a couple of African countries, European countries and South American countries for various business meetings.
With the booming construction industry, she is upbeat that the company will reach greater heights as more people are eager to live or work in a beautiful well-furnished building with nice glass and aluminum fittings.
Mrs Sianga who is a second born in a family of seven, a wife, mother of six and an adopted son, believes that a home should be a nice building with properly fitted glasses and aluminium.
She currently imports materials from South Africa.
Mrs Sianga has so far employed 16 permanent employees with plans to increase the workforce as the business grows. The company has three branches currently, one in Choma and two in Livingstone.
For her, meeting new customers remains key in the success of any business because it is through quality service delivery that a business is able to mantain old customers and attract new ones.
She disclosed that there are challenges in any business adding that they are there to make one strong.
â€œConstruction sector has the money but one has to work hard, and convince people of the ability to deliver so that people can trust you with the next project,â€ She said.
Ms Sianga who is passionate about women empowerment is happy that women have also been recognised as partners in development as evidenced from Governmentâ€™s women empowerment projects and also various appointments of women in decision making positions.
â€œI have a passion to see other women live prosperous lives, so I strive as an individual to reach were great women have reached, I would not want to get there alone thatâ€™s why Iâ€™am working with a lot of vulnerable women,â€ she said
I noticed that many women are faced with various challenges and I thought of supplementing Government efforts in improving the lives of women by using the companyâ€™s profits to help women start some income generating activities.
â€œI decided to give back to the community by coming up with a project called Naleli womenâ€™s initiative where am working with over 500 women in Livingstone and Mwandi districts,â€ she said.
She said the women initiative was created to give out capital to vulnerable women to start up small medium enterprises for the sustainability of their families.
During her spare time, Mrs Sianga loves to travel both locally and abroad and being around nature. I have been privileged to meet great people in this life, who possibly I would have not met if I became a lawyer-a career which was contrary to my dreams of becoming an entrepreneur.
SHIKANDA KAWANGA, Livingstone