‘‘I sold tomatoes, sweet potatoes and mealies. Together with other children of my age from the same neighbourhood, we sold our things next to beer halls, at bus terminuses and along the main roads,’’ she said in a recent interview.
She never had any problem with subjects that involved calculations and says: “my mother used to joke about my intelligence in mathematics, saying it was because I started selling things when I was very young.’’
Dlamini is proud that even at five, she contributed meaningfully to the family income.
‘‘I did my part and am proud of it. We never went hungry and I feel so good when I realise that I actively contributed to the welfare of the family,’’ she said.
She is grateful to her hardworking mother, a full time housewife, who instilled a sense of purpose and responsibility in her children. Back then, it was common for children from low-income suburbs to go deep into the night selling vegetables, mealie cobs and sour milk, and there was never any hullabaloo about child labour.
Even while working as a nurse, Dlamini nursed a burning ambition of becoming an entrepreneur.
“While working at rural hospitals I decided to venture into vegetables, bringing them from communities close to where I worked into towns. I was gratified by the fact that the business, modest as it was, brought me good money. This was the beginning of my career as a business person,’’ said Dlamini.
Soon, she shifted from vegetables to bed linen, which she brought from town to sell to rural communities. She received a boon when she left hospital work and got employed by successive commercial companies in Matabeleland, Masvingo and Midlands provinces as a corporate nurse.
“Working for commercial companies exposed me to dynamics within the hospitality and catering industries as I came in contact with hotels and lodges. I would bring oranges from as far as Chiredzi and sell them in Bulawayo. I started building my house using profits from my informal ventures and one thing led to the other,’’ she said.
She supplied vegetables, fruits and clothing to companies and individuals who gave her regular orders. Dlamini, whose husband did not support her idea of venturing into business, broke into catering where she has made a big name for herself by accident.
In 2007, a family relative decided to throw a birthday party and she ended up supplying foodstuffs to the guests.Subsequently, she received orders from other people hosting social events and from then, she has not looked back.
After leaving formal employment recently, Dlamini used $30 000 from her severance package to build a conference and catering facility in Bulawayo which she intends to use to host weddings, parties and other social and professional events.She urged other women to take up business seriously.
“My message to women is that they can do it. What they need is focus. Women should believe in themselves and be honest to God and themselves,” she said.Post published in: News