You’ve probably heard the saying: It takes a village to raise a child. I like that because a whole community of women worked together to bring me up. This is one of the reasons I dress so colourfully. I represent the many different women who contributed to making me the person I am today.

Born in Zimbabwe, I was raised by a single mother—a strong woman who surrounded herself with a strong community.

My mother shielded me, an only child, from some rather unpleasant things as I was growing up. One of the traumas I did witness at a young age though was domestic violence. I didn’t understand it, but I knew it was wrong.

Such domestic troubles in the background meant I grew up with fear and instability, and had to quickly learn to be resilient. When things got bad at home, my mum would take me to her friends. Going from one house to another, with different women taking care of me each time, actually helped me develop strong interpersonal skills. This experience also helped me understand the value of having a reliable and supportive community.

At the age of 16, that little girl who grew up in a cottage, in-between hopping from one house to another, was now in London. I’d never dreamed about London, but my mum had, and she included me in that dream. It took me time to settle in due to the 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 honours degree in Business Studies, majoring in Finance.

Failure is a great teacher! Everyone has experienced failure on some level. Some people just give up but it made me try even harder! 

Two years after my graduation I started an online magazine. When I saw my competitors go from strength-to-strength, I wondered why I couldn’t stay ahead and grow as they did. Then, after a couple of years I had to give it up. This experience taught me the importance and impact of marketing. Unlike my competitors—who understood how to present themselves and their brands—I hadn’t promoted the magazine to the right audience through the right platforms. This meant there weren’t enough readers or advertisers to keep the business growing. 

In 2011, my husband got a job in Switzerland. With this move, I found myself in a new place where I knew no one. I felt lonely and depressed as a stay-at-home mum. Then in a bid to pick myself up two years later, I knew I really had to start pushing my own boundaries. That’s when I began attending networking events. 

These networking events and opportunities inspired me. Also, when I considered my own experience of a failed business earlier that year, I had a burning desire to help women who were starting their own businesses to do so with ease and confidence. At the same time, I wanted to support established businesses to stay in business and continue growing. This was how the concept of Women’s Expo Switzerland was conceived. Live in-person events are definitely one of the best ways for business owners to engage with their customers. 

I started the Women’s Expo Switzerland with just a basic website and word-of-mouth marketing. I’ve shared my story and vision as I’ve met and connected with some amazing women and journalists. Without their support, the Women’s Expo Switzerland would not have succeeded. 

A large part of the success of the Women’s Expo Switzerland comes from pushing hard against many boundaries, and I continue to meet tough new challenges on a daily basis. If I can do it, so can you. Don’t limit yourself!

Lisa Chuma