LUSAKA, ZAMBIA – To be an entrepreneur is not easy; to be a young entrepreneur is even harder. But Chileshe Chewe, who founded her company at 26-years-old, is thriving in a world so many try and cannot thrive in.
She is the founder and CEO of a successful business consultancy firm called Numeric Business Consultancy. A graduate of the National Institute of Public Administration (NIPA), Ms Chewe set up Numeric Business Consultancy in 2016 after working briefly in the corporate world.
“Initially I did not want to run my own business, but I identified a gap - the challenges that SME’s face - and I wanted to help them. After setting up Numeric I realised I’m actually good at running my own business,” she said.
The gap that Ms Chewe identified was that many SME’s and start-ups were failing because they did not have knowledge of project management, how to handle finances or do proper market research.
Numeric Business Consultancy offers a variety of services that include project management, business consultancy, financial advice and helping start-ups find their feet in very competitive markets.
Like most things that people build from the ground up, building Numeric Business Consultancy has not been a walk in the park.
“It was hard, especially being a woman and being so young. I would approach clients and they would be sceptical because I’m young and they would not take me seriously.”
However, Ms Chewe persevered. “I think that is why my business is growing and still here: I never take no for an answer. I’m very resilient.”
Besides her resilience, Ms Chewe has also benefitted from being part of Stanbic Bank’s Anakazi network. Ms Chewe was first introduced to Stanbic Bank at her previous job.
“We were required to open bank accounts with Stanbic Bank and I really enjoyed their service so when I set up my company, they were the obvious choice for the bank I would use for my company.”
Ms Chewe discovered Anakazi Banking through her business manager. Anakazi Banking was introduced by Stanbic Bank in 2017 and focuses on both increased access to finance and capacity building activities for women entrepreneurs.
These platforms include training, mentorship and networking events to build knowledge in business management and access to markets, as well as assistance in business formalisation.
“My business manager called me and invited me to an Anakazi event; they had a lean-in breakfast and invited women from various backgrounds and different industries,” she explained.
Ms Chewe attended the lean-in event and was able to network and form relationships with women who inspired her.
“It was very inspirational to listen to and meet women who have been entrepreneurs for so long. They gave me the motivation to keep going and also brought a lot of wisdom,” she said.
Ms Chewe also uses the skills and tools she has learnt from attending Anakazi events to better her business. “I use the skills I have learnt on how to pitch a business or how to handle my finances; Anakazi has been very beneficial to my business.”
Numeric Business Consultancy is still a young company and Ms Chewe has big plans for it.
“I want us to be the business link of Africa. Zambia is well positioned as we are located centrally. So we are in a good place to link businesses around Africa,” she concluded.