Raising money for a business is one of the most problematic areas for many. So many aspiring entrepreneurs never get to start their businesses because of lack of or inadequate capital. I have discussed how one can raise capital other than by taking out loans from financial institutions. One of the alternative ways I suggest is entering entrepreneurship competitions. I am referring to competitions that entail prizes in the form of money. I have always encouraged people to have an eye out for that. I have also encouraged people to explore raising capital through family and friends – but with discretion though. In this article, you will get to see how those alternatives have opened doors for a Zimbabwean lady.

Who Is Ethel Mupambwa?

Ethel Mupambwa is currently the Co-founder and Executive Director of MoneyMart Finance. She was born in the Midlands province. She completed her high school education at St Francis of Assisi. She then attained her Finance degree from NUST – National University of Science and Technology. Ernst & Young was her place of attachment (internship) in pursuance of that degree. After completing her degree she worked at Rockshade Car Rentals and Tours – she was the Finance and Administration Manager.

How Her Entrepreneurship Journey Started

This all goes back to the time she was still at NUST. Whilst there, she started an Internet Café business. Additionally, she would bake cakes and procure hair products that she would sell. In 2011 she along with her mates started a finance business but it flopped in 2013. It is then that she cut her losses and set up MoneyMart Finance which became operational in 2014.

What Inspired Her To Start MoneyMart Finance

The short answer is, to provide formal financial services and financial knowledge.

She said something very interesting, “Challenges are orders served to an entrepreneur more often than not.” There are several ways we can interpret that but one of them is that challenges are business opportunities in disguise. This means when you encounter a particular challenge it is more often than not calling upon you to solve it. As you solve it you bring convenience to yourself and the solution becomes something that can bring convenience to others. Thus, in all that you have yourself a sustainable and profitable business.

She herself faced tremendous challenges in raising capital for her business. She even had to approach friends and family in pursuit of capital. Starting MoneyMart Finance was meant to provide a solution to the challenge of raising capital for a business. She was particularly moved by the realization that most women struggle to bankroll even their very small businesses. She notes how 84 per cent of Zimbabwe’s working demographic is found in the informal sector. She also notes that 53 per cent of businesses in that informal sector are owned by women.

The Competition

There is an initiative by the Alibaba mogul Jack Ma called Africa’s Business Heroes (ABH). It falls under the Jack Ma Foundation and is a program put together by the Africa Netpreneur Prize Initiative (ANPI). ANPI also falls under the Jack Ma Foundation. This is basically a commitment to the foundation made to stimulate entrepreneurship in Africa. The initiative is initially meant to run for a decade. So it is the competition which Ethel Mupambwa decided to enter using her MoneyMart Finance business.

She initially was not confident that she would ever win though. When she made it into the Top 50 she was in disbelief. Later on, when she made it into the Top 10 she became more poised though. She at that point knew that she had high chances of making it to the top. Ultimately she emerged as one of the Top 3 winners. For that, she won US$150 000. It is worth noting that the Top 3 emerged triumphant from a total of 22 000 initial applicants. These were applicants from 54 African nations.

The other two top winners were from Kenya and Nigeria respectively. They are the Founder and CEO of BrightGreen Renewable Energy, Chebet Lesan and Co-Founder and CEO of Mdaas Global, Oluwasoga Oni. The other 7 from the Top 10 each won US$100 000.

What Now?

With the significant capital injection she now has she intends to transform MoneyMart Finance into a digital MFI. She ultimately looks to develop AI Digital Lending Software. The overall idea is to revolutionize financial services in Zimbabwe.

She encourages young people to live their lives informed by 1 Timothy 4 verse 12 (NIV). It reads, “Let no one look down on you because of your youth, but be an example and set a pattern for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, and [moral] purity.” She also encourages young people to be solution providers. She asserts that challenges have many opportunities and it is the young people that must solve them. She also believes that everyone wins when women have equal access to economic opportunities. I am sure the story of Ethel Mupambwa will inspire young people out there to step out and step up.