You know how they say that it takes a village to raise a child? I am that child. I’m a product of a community – a community of women who chose to work together to raise me.

This is one of the reasons I dress so colourful. I represent the many different women who have contributed to make me who I am today.

I was born in Zimbabwe, where I was raised by a single mother – a strong woman who surrounded herself with a strong community.

As an only child my mother only shielded me from a few things. One of the problems I witnessed at a young age was domestic violence. I did not understand it but I knew it was wrong.

I grew up with fear and instability. When things got bad at home, my mum used to take me to her friends. As I went from one house to another, being taken care of by different women, I realised the value of having a reliable supportive community. And so I desired to facilitate the same for other women.

At the age of 16 that little girl who grew up in a cottage, hopping from one house to another, was now in London. I’d never dreamed about London, but my mum did, and that dream included me. It took me time to settle due to a different culture and environment, but I held onto the privilege I had of a high quality education and safety.

At the age of 21 I graduated with an honors business studies (finance) degree.

Failure is a great teacher. Every person has experienced failure on some level. For some, it is a reason to quit, but for me, it was a reason to do more.

In 2011 – my husband got a job in Switzerland. With this new move, I knew no one and found myself lonely.  So, yes I know what it’s like to have those really dark moments in your life. 

In a bid to pick myself up – I thought going to networking events was a great start. Those networking events surely did inspire me. Coming back from one networking meeting I felt once again my dream come up – create a platform that promotes and brings women together. A platform that enriches and inspires them to build meaningful connections.

This is when the concept of the Women’s Expo Switzerland came to mind.

Currently there are 145,000 self-employed women in Switzerland who do not have any employees. 70,000 more who have employees, and 50,000 are in a family business. Making the total of women within the entrepreneurial world in Switzerland to 264,000.

Having realised I can build something of great value I decided to start the Women’s Expo Switzerland. I built my website and started going back to those networking events telling them about the Women’s Expo Switzerland. My initial goal was host 40 exhibitors. At that time, I only knew 6 women with businesses – so 40 was going to be a great achievement.

As I shared my story about my journey from Zimbabwe to Switzerland and my dream to build the most impactful and enriching event for women in Switzerland, I connected with amazing women. Women who shared the same vision as me. This attracted the attention of many big publications within Switzerland. This is when I realised the power of being authentic in business – which is why I help women to build their own personal brand.

Launched in 2013, we have had 743 female-owned businesses exhibit, 7,700 women visit the exhibition and 850 women attend our seminars.

The Women’s Expo Switzerland allowed me to dream again and give me an opportunity to inspire thousands of women throughout Switzerland.

There is an African proverb “if you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together!” At the core of the Women’s Expo Switzerland – is community of women who inspire me and together I believe, we will go far.

Lisa Chuma.