Financial Insight Zambia believe that Women are the future of value creation in Zambia. Statistics indicate that there are more women than men in Zambia that are in situations that allow them to be a part of the value making processes. That is why we are proud of the work that Norena Chiteba and her team are doing with the KUPES Conference series. This is an annual conference that brings together some of the smartest and beautiful young women in Zambia for a series of discussions with leaders of industry (mostly women).
At this year’s event (which I almost missed because I had a PTA meeting I was attending at Nkwazi), I had an opportunity to sit in during the secret millionaire Caroline Marsh’s presentation. By luck, I actually sat next to her and before I spill the beans on what we discussed I will focus on her presentation (Coming Soon to lifestyle #DarkStrategy). Caroline started her presentation with something you often don’t seem much in our society. She celebrated Norena and the work that she and her team were doing in empowering young women in Zambia. For a CEO of a real estate firm this is noble. However, it also showed a side of Caroline that I had not seen to date. Her association of value creation with a spiritual angle made perfect sense for any mortal Zambia who seeks to create value. The phenomenal presentation she gave to the girls inspired what she called “servanthood”. Make no mistake, she is all about the money but it does not define her. We believe that this is the mark of leadership many premier companies in Zambia can aspire to.
Caroline has clearly identified her gifts. She continues to invest in them which is analogous to the Lean in author Sherly Sandberg of the Facebook firm (millionaire traits). She proclaimed that it was important never to despise ones gifts and that life was in phases and men were in sizes (wondering what size the founder of fi is). We believe this anecdote was an important one for young aspiring entrepreneurs because without self-belief and not understanding that every business goes through phases (start up, growth, maturity, and decline) many business fail to take off.
What was also intriguing about her speech was the focus on strategy. Although it was not overtly mentioned, she touched on issues such as having a vision and value system. This is fundamental in knowing who you are and what your business is about. We would coin this as self-competitive advantage. She indicated that because many individual startup do know know what their core capabilities are, copycat business become ubiquitous with “headless leaders”. She did not call them headless by the way, we say this because if you copy a business, you do not have the blue prints of the copied company’s strategy. Therefore, your business is doomed to fail.
Like Financial Insight, Caroline believes in doing market research. Her success in the UK has been because of it and she may not have been public about it, but we believe she is a player in the real estate game that must be watched. She does her homework. Not only does she embrace market research, she also has pride in her culture and heritage. We believe this is a leader who knows herself and that is the very reason she has been successful.