INTERVIEW: MTHANDAZO NYONI
EMPOWERED women have choices and can change the world. This is what Thembi Bheka (TB), a Zimbabwean woman believes in, and to that effect, she has embarked on a journey to help women reignite their passion, gain clarity and reconnect with their bigger life purpose. NewsDay (SE) reporter, Mthandazo Nyoni (ND) interviewed Bheka to understand her vision which seeks to empower over one million women across Africa. Below are excerpts of the interview;
ND: Who is Thembi Bheka?
TB: She is a Zimbabwean, who is on a mission to change the future of fellow women in Zimbabwe and around the world.
ND: We understand that you founded an organisation, She Breaks Thru. What is the organisation’s purpose?
TB: The goal is to help empower women break through their everyday challenges, glass ceilings and financial barriers so that they generate income by doing what they love, pursuing their passions.
ND: You indicated that through this organisation, you are targeting to empower about one million women in Africa by 2025. How are you targeting to empower those in Zimbabwe and how are you going to go about it?
TB: My goal is to empower more than one million women despite their physical location because globally, women continue to face challenges when it comes to financial freedom. Our current reach has been through my podcast She Breaks Thru – being a podcast guest on several platforms, speaking on different stages across the world. I have also started live training in Zimbabwe as I realised that it is easy to train people online.
ND: Since you launched your organisation, how many women have you mentored or trained in business skills?
TB: I continually mentor women through my podcast with an average of 100 downloads per episode and we have 36 podcasts to date. I have been on platforms with listenership as high as
2 000 downloads per episode and spoken on stage with audiences in the thousands. So I have and will continue to mentor thousands through such platforms.
ND: How did you arrive at what you are doing now?
TB: At a tender age, I got into a relationship and a marriage that was out of the normal and very uncomfortable, to say the least. I made a decision at that point that many women are in marriages they are not comfortable with just because they have nowhere to start. I told myself that I was going to do everything in my power to empower women and stop this trend. When I moved to Canada, this was my mission, but life got in the way. It wasn’t until I came back to Zimbabwe and met young women and teenagers in difficult situations because of money, that I was reminded of my bigger purpose again.
ND: When I was going through your profile, I learnt that you went to Canada with only $5 in your pocket, but now you have become a real estate investor and educator. Can you briefly walk us through your entrepreneurial journey, or was it a miracle?
TB: There are no miracles (laughs), just hard work and perseverance. It all started with a decision. I made a decision to go to a nursing school and took action. When I graduated, I made a decision that I wasn’t going to be a nurse forever and decided to invest in real estate and eventually became a coach. It was a journey I decided to invest in, starting with my education. If you are going to be an entrepreneur, you just have to make a decision and go for it. There is no magic formula, decide and just do it!
ND: In your journey to become what you are at the moment, what challenges did you encounter? Was money one of them?
TB: Yes, there were a lot of challenges and they continue to be there. For starters, being a black woman in Canada, I had a lot of insecurities. I didn’t believe in myself, let alone believe anyone would invest in me. I then had to enrol myself into my business idea because every time a deal went wrong, I would blame myself. I faced a lot of challenges and every entrepreneur will go through that.
We all have self-doubt and the biggest challenge is that we need money to get started or expand business ideas. Money was definitely a big one for me too. I just thought I couldn’t invest in real estate because I needed a lot of money, it wasn’t until I learnt that yes, I needed money, but it didn’t have to be my own money. Cashflow challenges are in every business and I go through those cycles as well in my business, but now I know, it’s temporary and it will pass.
ND: How did you overcome these challenges?
TB: I had to change friends and surrounded myself with people who were on a similar path with me. I invested in changing my mindset. As Warren Buffet said: “Success is 90% mindset and 10% strategy.” This involved investing in getting a mentor, investing in my mindset growth and investing in my team. I listen to podcasts on a daily basis, I read books, I speak to my mentors on a weekly basis and I continue to learn. I need mentors, they improve my confidence. They keep me focused, believe in me. Challenges in any business will always be there, just stay focused and run your race.
ND: From what you have just said, what advice would you give to other women who would like to venture into business?
TB: Just do it. Stop waiting, stop thinking you need money to make more money. You need to change your mindset and position yourself for growth, you will be surprised how much you can achieve simply by changing your friends and networking with other like-minded people. Invest in a mentor. It’s worth it!
ND: When you are not busy helping women reconnect with their passion and grow their businesses, what else do you do?
TB: I love road trips, I try to go on a road trip as often as I can with my kids.