We’re delighted to introduce you to the next nominee on the Glazia Women’s History Month Spotlight Series, Tsitsi Jambaya. 

Founded by Tsitsi Cheryl Jambaya in 2022, VellaMalle is renowned for its top-notch heels, both locally in Zimbabwe and globally. Initially starting with importing goods from China in 2020, Jambaya swiftly shifted focus to upscale footwear, introducing the transformative “confidence boosters” of VellaMalle.

Beyond retail success, VellaMalle serves as a trusted supplier for startups and established companies. Jambaya extends her entrepreneurial spirit to her community, offering insights on importing from China and business initiation.

Jambaya’s visionary leadership earned her recognition at the Africa Business Awards, where she received the Coach, Mentorship, and Women Empowerment Award, affirming her dedication to supporting aspiring entrepreneurs, particularly women.

Under Jambaya’s guidance, VellaMalle has earned prestigious accolades like the Megafest award, showcasing her entrepreneurial prowess and commitment to empowering individuals through quality products.

Know more about the Glazia Women’s History Month Spotlight Campaign HERE.

“Concrete actions are needed, including strengthening institutional support, promoting female leadership in government, business, and civil society, and addressing systemic issues that hinder women’s access to education, resources, and equal opportunities.”

Tsitsi Jambaya

Glazia in conversation with Tsitsi Jambaya

Can you tell us about your journey in the banking and finance industry and how it has shaped your career path?

While my path hasn’t led me directly into the banking industry, my background in finance has profoundly shaped my career path. It has equipped me with valuable skills in financial management, allowing me to effectively manage personal and professional finances, facilitate payments responsibly, and leverage my knowledge within the boundaries of ethical banking practices. This background has also fostered a strong understanding of financial regulations and risk management, allowing me to make informed decisions and contribute effectively in a team setting. I believe my financial expertise can be a valuable asset, even without directly working within the traditional banking sector.

What inspired you to venture into entrepreneurship, particularly in providing buying, shipping, and payment services to China?

My entrepreneurial journey began during a challenging time. Facing post-birth recovery and navigating a new location amidst a global pandemic, traditional job opportunities were scarce. However, this period also presented an unexpected opportunity.

During this time, I honed my skills in online shopping and shipping from China. This experience sparked an idea – I could leverage these skills and knowledge to help others facing similar logistical challenges. Starting small, I offered my services to individuals, assisting them with buying, shipping, and managing payments for their purchases from China.

As demand grew, this evolved into a dedicated service, allowing me to support others and contribute to my financial well-being. So this path was driven by my need to overcome personal challenges and in the process I found myself providing a broader problem-solving cause to society.

How do you balance your roles as a banker, entrepreneur, and China runner, and what challenges have you encountered along the way?

While I haven’t pursued traditional banking roles, I navigate the entrepreneurial landscape encompassing buying, shipping, and payments. Key challenges include customs delays and ensuring product quality. To address the latter, we’ve implemented quality control measures, with personnel verifying goods directly in China.

What motivated you to establish VellaMalle, and what sets your business apart in the market?

The desire for financial security and the entrepreneurial spirit catalyzed the birth of VellaMalle. We didn’t want to simply be a buying and shipping service company. Instead, we innovated and started our shoe label. We have a steady market penetration which counts for selling over 2,000 pairs since its launch in 2021.

VellaMalle goes beyond typical buying and shipping services. We offer a seamless experience, encompassing product sourcing, quality control, shipping, and payments. Also, our in-house shoe brand caters to a specific market segment. This has also set us apart from competitors solely focused on basic buying and shipping.

As a woman in business, what advice would you give to aspiring entrepreneurs, especially those looking to enter the global market?

Aspiring female entrepreneurs, especially those entering the global market, should prioritize building genuine connections and collaboration over forceful tactics. Focus on developing your expertise, fostering trust with potential partners, and highlighting the unique value you bring. Building a strong reputation will organically open doors and pave the way for a successful global presence.

How do you perceive the role of African women in shaping the future of entrepreneurship and commerce, particularly in international trade?

Women must increasingly commit to breaking barriers to their participation in the economy. There must be a collective commitment to creating advocacy for women’s rights in business.

As women in business, we must also find strategies that promote access to alternative sources of capital and develop new value chains. China is that new form of capital sourcing. Likewise, we also need to push Africa to be a competitive player for producing high-quality yet cheaper goods.

Women’s History Month celebrates the achievements and contributions of women. How do you see your role as a social entrepreneur impacting the next generation of aspiring social entrepreneurs, particularly those of African descent?

First, the month evokes a sense of pride in Blackness and our role in building innovations that shaped world civilization. So, all businesses, mine included must be guided by that desire to upscale excellence. As a result, I should inspire more women to work and create bigger innovations than I am doing.

Can you share any memorable experiences or achievements from your journey that have had a significant impact on your professional growth?

Starting and growing my business into a consistently profitable structure stands out as my most memorable experience. Driven by the desire to make more money through hard work, I envision expanding our influence with social responsibility initiatives and creating additional employment opportunities.

My entrepreneurial spirit was recognized last year with two prestigious awards: the Megafest Enterprising Woman of the Year Gold Winner and the Christian Women Entrepreneurs Network of Africa award for coaching, mentorship, and women empowerment.

What are your goals and aspirations for the future, both personally and professionally? How do you envision your contributions making a positive difference in the lives of others, especially within the African diaspora community?

⁠I look forward to growing this brand and expanding my sphere of influence in terms of my organizational objectives. I hope to take advantage of the African diaspora demographic share for skills exchange.

How do you perceive the current state of gender equality and women’s empowerment in Africa, and what improvements are still needed?

While progress has been made, Africa still faces challenges in achieving true gender equality and women’s empowerment. Symbolic gestures and statements are insufficient.

Concrete actions are needed, including strengthening institutional support, promoting female leadership in government, business, and civil society, and addressing systemic issues that hinder women’s access to education, resources, and equal opportunities. Only through such a multifaceted approach can we truly empower women and unlock their full potential, shaping a brighter future for Africa.

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