MARGARET SAMULELA-CHISANGA, Lusaka
PERSISTENCE in chasing, maintaining and retaining customers is one attribute unique to successful entrepreneurs. It is an attribute that comes to mind when one tries to describe Swensi Events Planning and Management Services proprietor Bridget Suwilanji Nachalwe.
â€œWhen I set my mind to get something done, believe me I will not sleep until I have tried all legal means to achieve it,Â only then will I rest,â€ says Bridget, who serves as the companyâ€™s chief executive officer.
During an interview in Lusaka recently, Bridget said in just five years, Swensi Events has advanced to a level where she caters and plans functions for some of Lusakaâ€™s most prominent companies such as Zambia Revenue Authority and Lusaka Apex University.
This is besides having a full-time job as an administrative officer for an engineering firm called Brian Colquohuon Hugh O Donell and Partners for over 12 years.
And the secret to this is simply planning ahead and delegating some responsibilities to well-trained employees.
â€œThe experience I have in my formal job has given me the confidence to believe in my potential to plan my own entrepreneurial work. I believe that the early bird catches the worm, so I wake up early to plan for my business. I ensure all my workers know what role they are playing for a successful execution of any event,â€ she said.
Planning usually involves understanding the clientsâ€™ concept for their function and preparing all the necessary material to complement the concept.
â€˜My driving force is simple; I believe that every woman needs financial security as it enables her to stand up for herself. As a single mother, I can say I am successfully managing to provide the best education for my children due to my determination and hard work in both my formal job and my entrepreneurial skills,â€ she said.
Swensi is an events management company, whose main line of business involves planning and management, decoration and provision of various items for corporate and private functions.
Bridget attributes the success of the business to having registered her company under PACRA and Zambia Revenue Authority as well as operating it as a legal serious company.
â€œThis is one thing I can advise an aspiring entrepreneur to consider doing before they venture out to look for customers. This is because it allows you to compete even with other established companies. Once you have all papers in place, you can bid for a tender or contract confidently when your company is registered,â€ she says.
Bridget, who has a love for flowers, developed an interest after realising how other people were arranging the decor at kitchen parties and weddings and getting paid for it.
â€œBefore I launched this company, I used to help my sister, Mercy Nachalwe, as a matron at kitchen parties. While doing this, I realised that the people who were coming to do the decor at these functions were making a lot of money, so I took keen interest and started observing how they were doing it. This caused me to say to myself, I love flowers and I know I can do this job,â€ she said.
During that period, Bridget also started preparing and buying materials she would need to launch her decor business. She also started planning her friendsâ€™ functions at no cost in order to practise and perfect the art.
â€œI did this for three months. I would ask my friends to buy all the materials required and then I would provide the labour for free. In 2012, I decided to take a leap of faith and take charge of my sister Mwaka Nachalweâ€™s kitchen party, and I can say that was the birth of Swensi as a full-blown business idea. It was a success and gave me the confidence to take up huge responsibilities,â€ she said.
Soon after that, Bridget registered her organisation and developed a company profile and business plan. She delivered this profile to many companies with the hope of getting a contract to plan and decorate their events. It worked.
â€œI received a few calls from some of the companies and made sure that I executed to their satisfaction. To this day, some of them are still my clients,â€ she said.
Bridget says from the moment she got her first contract, she made it a policy to reinvest any profit into the business and make it grow.
â€œBecause of that discipline, I have been able to purchase enough products to enable me hire out to others and this has increased my sources of revenue. Not only that, I have been able to grow the business into two departments, mainly dÃ©cor and food catering. Over the years, I have also managed to acquire two vehicles to use for transportation,â€ she said.
As a social responsibility act, Bridget gives discounted rates to the church in case of any important event and also to people who are financially challenged but desire to have a memorable event.
When it comes to the companyâ€™s contribution to the countryâ€™s economy, Bridget has this to say, â€œSwensi Events supplements Governmentâ€™s efforts by creating employment; contributes to the gross domestic product through payment of taxes, and also contributes to the social welfare of citizens.â€
MARGARET SAMULELA-CHISANGA, Lusaka