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Thembe Khumalo, a Zimbabwean Woman Helping Small Businesses to Grow Their Brands Via Great Communication.

Behind every successful business is a great brand that connects products and services to those all important customers. But building a great brand takes hard work and specialist expertise, and in Zimbabwe, that’s where Thembe Khumalo and her company Brandbuilder come in. They bring 20 years of specialist expertise to any client brief and make the process of brand building a whole lot easier.

LoA chatted to founder Thembe Khumalo this month to find out more.

What does your company do?

We help entrepreneurial leaders and their businesses achieve clarity, visibility, and growth using effective brand and communication strategies. We show them how best to use media, PR, advertising and social media to achieve their business goals.

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“Having worked in every aspect of media, I know just how the sector works and I can help you get the best value, not just for now, but for the future of your business.”

What inspired you to start your company?

I recognized that many small businesses struggle with marketing and branding. They have great ideas but can’t always get them to the people who need to hear about them. With my background in advertising and more than 20 years in the media space I knew I could help them without putting them through the intimidating process of dealing with a big advertising agency. I wanted to create a service that would be relaxed, respectful and rewarding on both sides.

Why should anyone use your service or product?

You can get 20 years worth of experiential knowledge relevant to African markets. Having worked in every aspect of media, I know just how the sector works and I can help you get the best value, not just for now, but for the future of your business. I have run both big and small businesses in public and private sectors as well as the not-for-profit sector. I am very familiar with the challenges that start-ups face, having run a couple myself.

Tell us a little about your team

We have a small but effective team comprising:
– a strategist
– a writer/researcher and publishing expert
– a social media expert
– a designer

When we work on large projects we bring in additional skills from our pool of trusted consultants.

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“Brandbuilder is set to become a regional powerhouse when it comes to the media and branding space.”

“With the help of technology, we are able to reach and service clients all over Africa, and we have a flexible model that keeps our expenses low.”

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Share a little about your entrepreneurial journey. And, do you come from an entrepreneurial background?

I didn’t know I was an entrepreneur! This in spite of having started making and selling clothes at 14 years old, starting and closing a business with my sister while still in high school then starting another with a friend in our twenties; and again as a young mum when I couldn’t find the kinds of clothes I wanted my children to wear. I never thought of these “projects” as businesses, but looking back I realize now that I always had a longing to be independent and self-sufficient. I love being in charge of my own time, especially because it enables me to be present for my kids in a way that I couldn’t be when I was employed.

My career in media started when I was a TV presenter more than 20 years ago. I found that I inadvertently became a brand without knowing anything about branding. When I moved into the advertising industry I then began to understand branding a lot more, and my love and knowledge of this space grew and grew. I went on to work in publishing, print media distribution and training. I have been a newspaper columnist for a national daily paper and am now a writer and speaker. I tend to see just about everything in terms of audience, messages, and brands. It can get crazy!

What are your future plans and aspirations for your company?

Brandbuilder is set to become a regional powerhouse when it comes to the media and branding space. With the help of technology, we are able to reach and service clients all over Africa, and we have a flexible model that keeps our expenses low. I would like to see Brandbuilder supporting businesses all over the continent.

Beyond actually developing brands, we are also in the process of putting together an information hub for small and micro businesses. This will provide a one-stop shop for reliable information regarding funding, government regulations, services such as tax and accounting, and a whole lot more. We look forward to rolling this out in Southern Africa first and later to other parts of the continent.

What gives you the most satisfaction being an entrepreneur?

The freedom to plan around my family is the number one reward of entrepreneurship. I also love the idea that I am modeling a way of life that my daughters can emulate because they see the benefits. They have compared how life was when I was a senior executive with a big paycheck, and declared that they prefer the way we live now, even though there is less financial security now. That warms my heart.

I also find it extremely satisfying to see a direct relationship between the effort I put in and the rewards I gain – both financially and otherwise. I can get money, recognition, and freedom as a direct result of what I do to get them.

What’s the biggest piece of advice you can give to other women looking to start-up?

Trust yourself. Be brave with your life. Find a circle of friends who have similar aspirations and are going through similar challenges.

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