Rachael Sabondo is a dynamic Harare-based entrepreneur and the founder of INGA Creative.
INGA Creative is a market platform for women and young people who want to sell their products without the rigors of having to pay huge amounts of money for shop space. Whilst working to find their own space, INGA Creative exhibits at Spar Queensdale and Braeside in Harare.
Rodney Rumbidzai Chawota
Tell us a little about your family.
I’m one of five children and my parents were both teachers. Back then because they were teachers, we had two homes – one at the school where they taught and our rural home in Honde Valley where we would go every holiday and some weekends. My father passed away in January 1988 when l was going into form one and my mother continued teaching and farming.
What are some of your fondest childhood memories?
We really enjoyed the abundance of fresh fruits, vegetables, water, privacy and peace. Most of the produce on the farm we had was for consumption but some would be sold or given as payment for labour in our fields. Honde Valley is hot so our parents would encourage us to work in the fields in the morning and then study in the afternoon.
My mother is a reader and I remember we had lots of books. On the other hand my father would bring newspapers whenever he came back from town and would ask each and every one of us to read it and] talk about what we understood. He asked us to do the same after listening to the 8pm news.
What did you do to get to where you are now?
After high school I did temp teaching in Manicaland but when I couldn’t get a place for teacher training I moved to Harare and trained as a secretary. I worked at the Posts and Telecommunication Corporation (PTC) which became known as Telone. Whilst working
there, I got a Bachelor of Management and Human Resources with Zimbabwe Open University; at the same time, I remember my mother had taught me that your salary will never be enough so I was always looking to earn in other ways.
In 2004, I got the opportunity to attend the International Labour Organisation Training of Trainers. The course was life changing in that I discovered my passion for training which I then did on a part-time basis. I then worked in Human Resources and got an MBA from the Women’s University in Africa. When I was studying for the MBA, the entrepreneur in me was born and I really started to build my dream. Personal development has always been important to me and when opportunities arose I took courses that were relevant to my career and passion.
Can we talk a little about INGA Creative?
Of course. INGA Creative is creating a space where women and young people can connect, learn together, showcase their skills and spark collaborations. The participants have a range of skills and talent in visual arts, photography, horticulture, textiles, ceramics,
calligraphy and recycling. It’s really a market space for members to sell their wares, for exhibitions and networking. As I have qualifications in life coaching, I also do one-on-one or group coaching sessions in what I call niche creative coaching.
What I want to do is to help these people cope with the uncertainties of the social, cultural and economic environment in Zimbabwe. I can really see some of the changes in the skills and quality of work by those who use the space.
What do you want to achieve in the long term?
The long term goal is to have our own space that we can use as a training school, co-working space, shop as well as the ‘ground’ for our market days. This means we can be consistent and our customers can still find us in between events. The shop will sell our
members’ work as well as the raw materials they need.
Right now we have partnered with Spar Queensdale and Braeside which is where we hold our exhibitions.
How has COVID-19 affected your business?
Well, because INGA Creative is about public exhibitions, COVID-19 has had a huge impact on our business. We had scheduled two exhibitions on 28 March, where we were going to celebrate our first anniversary, and another on 11 April, but these had to be cancelled. That meant lost revenue even though we did use social media platforms instead. Still, income was limited especially when you think of the state of our economy. For example, to rely on social media sales means you need data which is out of reach for many. Banks aren’t operating fully so accessing money from the diaspora is not easy. Then there is the informality of the Zimbabwean economy where people have to go to work daily in order to put something on the table. It’s also been difficult to get new clients, but we appreciate the need to promote social distancing through the lockdown in order to flatten the COVID-19 curve.
To keep our members engaged the idea of Inga Creative Centre for Learning came into being and this started online on 1 April 2020. Thanks to COVID-19 we realised we didn’t need to wait for a building. It has gathered momentum and for now we are giving the lessons for free and will charge when things recover.
Your thoughts on Zimbabwe as it turns 40 this year are…
We thank God for the grace to be alive to see Zimbabwe turn 40. We appreciate the efforts being taken to close the gender gap. More opportunities are opening up for women and girls. Women in arts and crafts, and farming have been receiving recognition in these sectors where men used to dominate. There is access to land and resources and there is the Women’s Microfinance Bank that has helped many.
Zimbabwe is also making strides in using digital media, with mobile penetration even in rural communities. Of course more still needs to be done to open opportunities and create a stable economy. What I would say though is that there is massive potential for Zimbabwe.
How do you keep a balanced family life?
It’s not easy and requires investment emotionally, financially, spiritually and physically. My mentor always says a woman must pray for extra strength. You need strength as a businesswoman, wife, mother, daughter-in-law, sister, aunt…
Top on the list is good time management and good planning. You need to be a good listener and be emotionally intelligent too. Having a strong support system will make the job less tiresome so it’s important to uphold family relations because you will need
To keep motivated, you…
…Read a lot of motivational books and articles. I read the Bible as well. I dream big. When I hear of other success stories, that motivates me too. I also connect and network with people who think big and are doers.
What can we look forward to from INGA Creative?
The INGA Consultancy will continue with the exhibitions and training and we hope to extend the brand to INGA Foods and House of INGA for bags, accessories and a t-shirt label. There is great work to be done and the organisation must be known beyond the borders.
And what’s the ultimate aim for you?
I plan to leave a transgenerational legacy for my children.
I want to make sure the future is a bright one.
Follow INGA Creative here:
Facebook: Inga Creative