Midlands Founders Market: Promoting local businesses
Great leaders are often born with a natural aptitude for leadership, but some leaders are developed through experience and learning. Nurturing a mindset that allows for the creation of unfathomable ideas is an adventure, but some people are naturally gifted in an area. Some leaders may inherit certain traits from family members, but in Rutendo’s case, her drive to establish her entity came from within.
“I thought I could be the Founder of an entity because there are no limitations to the human mind. You can be anything. To be quite honest I strongly believe that the drive is an inborn thing, more of a God-given gift. No one per se, nurtured me into business but it was what I consumed and still consume that nurtured me and that is reading. I love reading and at one point it was more of an obsession. Through it, I came across the book “Soar” by Bishop TD Jakes and that was one of my biggest mentorships in business.”
Midlands Founders Market Director, Rutendo Blessing Mhlanga, a 27-year-old with a BSc in Media and Society Studies from Midlands State University (2019), launched the Midlands Founders Market in December 2022 with the first event held at Bradley Gardens on Saturday, December 10, 2022.
“With the world revolving and entrepreneurship becoming the “new normal” in the country, I had the conviction to give people the platform to help realise that they can make a proper living out of entrepreneurship. I wanted them to know and understand that there is nothing wrong with hustling, selling, or reselling.”
Another objective of Midlands Founders Market is building ideas and dreams into legacies. Every idea when realised can be relevant and valid. The third objective is to create a place that allows entrepreneurs and business owners to grow. “I would like to set a standard in societies where no idea is grossly overlooked. Entrepreneurship must be applauded. It is my desire to encourage anyone with ideas, anyone who does something, to move from the small spaza mentality to the big brand mentality. My conviction and inspiration to move on to the next event comes from two sources: the fear of failure and the positive feedback from attendees,” she said.
Other people’s discouragements can sometimes make you hesitate and slow down your progress towards your destiny. You may see the big picture in your mind, but nothing may be tangible yet. It can be draining for dreamers to defend their vision in the early stages. As entrepreneurs, some may resort to unorthodox methods to achieve their goals. The ever-changing market demands determination to find your path to success.
“To entrepreneurs contemplating starting a business venture, I say: just start! It’s a cliché, but it’s true. Don’t procrastinate or let fear hold you back. If you do, someone else will take your idea and run with it. Perseverance is the key. Never give up, no matter how hard it gets. Hold on and see your dream unfold,” Rutendo added.
Believing and living under the guidance of a higher power is of paramount importance. We are all spiritual beings who must one way or the other adhere to principles that help us live right with all mankind. Rutendo Blessing Mhlanga said that her biggest cheerleader is God. “Though invisible, His presence surrounds me. In times of triumph, I hear His voice whisper, “That’s my girl.” In the darkest of valleys, when hope eludes me and I long to quit, He whispers, “You can do it. I wouldn’t have given you the dream if I didn’t believe in you.”
Rutendo Blessing Mhlanga acknowledges her family’s support, saying, “My family is the best.” Her mother, brother, and cousins, especially her personal assistant Mitchell Majoni, have attended every Midlands Founders Market event.
The Midlands region, particularly Gweru, is slowly being revived by business events like the Midlands Founders Market, which has put the region on the map and inspired new entrepreneurs. The Midlands community has embraced the initiative, with six editions held in Gweru and one in Kwekwe, where the response has been overwhelmingly positive. Rutendo engages local artists for live performances to create a vibrant atmosphere and promote their artistic services.
Success stories have the power to motivate and inspire, boosting morale, strengthening determination, and igniting a passionate drive to pursue goals.
“Entrepreneurs and companies that register to sell and market their goods and services at the Midlands Founders Market have shown significant growth. I recently received a message from Lamka Deli, a baker who rarely misses a market edition. It read…”Testimonial: Marketing at Midlands Founders Market has really helped make my business more relevant. I’m forever grateful. Small reminders- when customers order months later, and they remember me from a market event.”
Growth can be fueled by negative feedback. To this Rutendo said,” Convincing people to book a stall has been the most difficult challenge in building the Midlands Founders Market brand. I know the many benefits of booking a stall, both on the day of the event and afterwards, but I remain hopeful about the future of newcomers in business.”
Poor management and misplaced priorities can cripple businesses. The same person who is responsible for maintaining a successful business also needs to ensure their own personal growth and responsibility. Balancing business and personal needs can be challenging, but it is essential for success. “I balance my personal responsibility and business by giving myself time to rest and breathe. I have made rest an intention that can’t be skipped no matter the pressure. Breathing is a basic priority.” Often, we become overwhelmed by the failure to control situations or the inadequacy to meet desired goals. Self-introspection will help set the mind at ease, but realistic planning will save you unnecessary headaches.
Midlands Founders Market was active this year, culminating in the ShutDown event on October 28, 2023, at their usual venue, The Black Pearl restaurant and bar. They plan to end the year in style by awarding the most outstanding companies. “The awards are mainly a sign of appreciation to all those that have attended the Midlands Founders Market (stall holders), those who have been part of the Midlands Founders Market journey and those who have made the journey a successful one. The venue will be announced as time progresses, but the date is set for Friday 8 December 2023,” Rutendo said.
As we look forward to the new year, new dreams, visions, and ambitions will arise. Rutendo looks forward to making 2024 a bigger and better year for the Midlands Founders Market, therefore planning to host more events outside Gweru, with Kwekwe, Shurugwi, and Zvishavane as target cities.
“We hope to host an event outside the Midlands region once the Gweru community fully understands the concept and aims of the Founders Market Group by 2024. We look forward to a successful year for the Founders Market Group and its stakeholders.”
Midlands Founders Market is available on all social media platforms as follows:
IG and Twitter (X) @foundersmarket and
Facebook: Rutendo Blessing Mhlanga
Twitter (X): BlessingMhlan16
In parting, Rutendo Blessing Mhlanga shares her greatest principle for success in both business and personal life: ‘Humility. Nothing more, nothing less.’