Businesswoman with a purpose

Candida Nakhumwa is one of Malawi’s virtuous daughters who is successfully  performing the balanced act of being a loving and caring wife and mother, a result-driven and visionary businesswoman and a soon to be PhD-student with ambitions to expand her professional opportunities. She shares her dreams with Helene Christensen, our correspondent.

Where did your professional path to become a striving businesswoman start?

“My business aspirations date back to when I was a young girl. At the age of 10, I carried a container with mandasi along with my schoolbooks to sell at break time at school. It was the highlight of the day for me to contribute to my mother’s business. The money we earned went to school fees for me and my seven siblings and household necessities. At an early age, I learned to be responsible and to appreciate the gains of small-scale business.

Who is your greatest source of inspiration?

My mother is my role model. I am immensely inspired by her passion to see us children grow and accomplish a higher level of education than herself. As a housewife with low level of education she proactively entered the ‘mandasi’ business and several other small-scale businesses on little capital and managed to send her eight children to private schools. I have never seen her begging rather approaching the business opportunities at stake with a conviction to succeed. She planted the seeds of business aspirations in me and today I am always on the outlook for new business opportunities to supplement my salary.

Where do you work?

I was working for National Smallholder Farmers’ Association of Malawi (Nasfam) as a Monitoring Evaluation and Communications Manager but  I have since taken a break to pursue further studies.

How challenging was your job at Nasfam and was this the only job you ever had?

Monitoring and Evaluation involves working with data as you check how an organisation is performing. My job was quite challenging and interesting in the sense that I had to make sense with a lot of data and produce a lot of reports which depicted our progress, including successes, opportunities and challenges. It was nice to appreciate how Nasfam’s programmes and services were changing lives of so many smallholder farmers across Malawi. Importantly, I enjoyed being a part of a dynamic team at Nasfam, under the leadership of the then CEO, Dyborn Chibonga. The team is committed to changing the lives of smallholder farmers with its internally designed tailor-made programmes and services. Noteworthy, I worked closely with the Director of Nasfam Development, Betty Chinyamunyamu from whom I learnt numerous things. I also had a great team in my department and we always worked as a team!!

 My job also involved working with a wide range of stakeholders including researchers, especially those at the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT). This helped me to know and appreciate the current status and significance of research in Agriculture as I participated in a number of projects.

Were you satisfied with your line of work?

I was happy working with a wide range of stakeholders, especially smallholder farmers which falls within my passion of helping those that are disadvantaged.

Where else have you worked?

 Before joining Nasfam in 2005, I worked for the International Fertiliser Development Centre (IFDC) as the Project Economist between 2004 and June 2005 and with the International Water Management Institute (IWMI) in South Africa between 2002 and 2004 as a part time job. Before this, I worked on several assignments as a free lance consultant.

What businesses are currently in your focus?

I am into poultry business and a variety of agriculture produce marketing.

Do you employ people? How many are they?

Since agricultural commodity marketing is seasonal, the number of employees varies with the volumes that I am handling at a particular time and the orders that I have secured. This number ranges from 20 to 30 people (including both men and women) who are involved in procurement, grading, packaging and delivery.

What dreams drive you as a businesswoman?

I have only started my journey to accomplishing all my dreams – I am still building my capital as a businesswoman. By pursuing new business opportunities I believe I am opening doors for myself to releasing my blessings in life. My ultimate dream is contributing to a happy family; my husband and I want to give our children opportunities and the best education. We want to protect the self-esteem of our children so they can walk tall in life and be exposed to the world. Besides, I believe in not only assisting relatives but also reaching out to children who are underprivileged and provide them with an opportunity for a good education and thereby a brighter future.

When did you get married?

I married to my best friend and companion Teddie Nakhumwa on 26th February 2000.

Do you have any children?

I have three lovely children: Joshua-Thanthwe, Victoria-Mzati and David-Linga, aged 8, 5 and 2, respectively.

 How do you manage to wear all your hats?

The strategy is to keep the responsibilities and obligations under the different hats separated. When I enter the house I take up my role as a wife and a mother and when doing my business I am a professional businesswoman. I make an effort to harness the difference and to balance this act requires energy, determination, commitment and discipline. Importantly, I always ask God to help me perform my roles and fulfil my responsibilities as expected and with joy.

Without the support and sharing of passion with my husband Teddie none of this would be possible though.

What is the next milestone Candida will conquer?

I am planning to study a PhD in agriculture economics. This will open new doors for me and give me a push to advance professionally.

What is your advice to fellow women who wish to follow your footsteps?

We have to live with the time and empower both men and women equally to strive to release their valuable potential – the way God had made us. Mothers should be the first in the forefront to educate and empower the girl child in the home. Self-worth is important if women are to rise and maximize their great potential.

Finally, I encourage every woman to be proactive, living a life with a purpose and persistently believing that dreams can come true!

What would you say has been your guiding principle?

I am what I am by God’s grace. I believe the Lord has loved me with an everlasting love and has drawn me to Himself in His loving kindness. Importantly, I believe I can do all things through Christ Jesus who strengthens me.

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