Lelemba Phiri's personal mission is to educate and empower women to transform their lives.
She firmly believes that empowering women creates better sustainable communities.
She is an award winning educator, writer, keynote speaker and "gender-lens" angel investor who is passionate about women leadership and entrepreneurship development in Africa.
She founded the Africa Trust Group, the fund management firm for the R100 million Enygma Ventures fund, that is focused on investing in early stage women owned businesses in Southern Africa.
Africa Trust Group takes a holistic approach to investing by investing in both the woman entrepreneur and the enterprise. It facilitates their access to markets, mentors and critical business tools.
Before foraying into the world of investing, Phiri was a successful entrepreneur who was part of the C-suite executive team at fintech Zoona, and was key to successfully growing the business from one operating market to three.
Phiri is not afraid of jumping headfirst into the unknown.
"When I am clear on the 'what', I simply take the leap. I jump in with lots of intention and clarity on where I eventually want to land, never being too perturbed about exactly 'how' it is all going to happen," she says.
She believes many people become paralysed when they overthink the "how", to the point where they simply cannot progress their ideas forward. Therefore, she encourages other entrepreneurs to be clear on their vision and the goals they want to achieve, and then "to simply go for it".
"I've been an entrepreneur from childhood," says Phiri. She was already earning money from a young age by granting "loans" to her siblings. In college she had to contribute to the payment of her studies and started selling just about anything that could generate some income.
Phiri does not believe that entrepreneurship is exclusively reserved for creators. She believes there is another category of entrepreneur as well. Those who don't necessarily create new products or services.
"Some people argue that they are not creative and therefore entrepreneurship is not an option. But I believe you have to ask yourself what unique strength you could bring to a team. Then you use that to negotiate yourself some equity in order to have a say in how strategy should be driven," she says.
Her networks were instrumental along the way. She diligently protects this asset and advises other entrepreneurs: Do not burn bridges.
"You have no idea how small the world is. Maintain those business relationships. Good goodbyes create more scope for a bigger support system for you in the future," she says.