ESSENCE is proud to celebrate extraordinary Black women who are breaking glass ceilings as flourishing entrepreneurs with compelling backstories. Join us as we highlight a few of the 50 women featured in our November 2017 issue and chat with them to find out more about how they got to where they are now and what advice they have for other young women looking to follow in their footsteps.
This week we focus on Kelechi Anyadiegwu of Zuvaa.
Q: What kind of company do you own?
Zuvaa is a peer-to-peer ecommerce marketplace for African design. We connect consumers with artisans around the world.
Q: What advice do you have for anyone dreaming of having their own business?
Be ready and willing to sacrifice a lot to make your dreams come true. Be ready to work 10 times harder at this than anything you have ever done. You either want to be an entrepreneur or you don’t. You need to have the stomach to be an entrepreneur, and you have to be ready for the journey, no matter how bumpy it may be.
Q: As an entrepreneur, what is the smartest decision you’ve ever made for yourself?
The smartest decision I have ever made was to know when to remove negative people and negative energy from my life. No matter how much benefit you think someone can provide for you, if they draining you your personal energy, that relationship will end up costing you more in the end.
Q: When it came to launching your business what kind of support system did you have in place and can you describe in what ways you were helped?
I had the supports of friends, family and women from afar cheering me on. I was able to immerse myself into a community of Black woman founders and this was so great for much of my early development. I was able to learn from these women, watch these women and lean on them. It felt incredible to be surrounded by people who genuinely wanted to see me win.
Q: Black women are America’s fastest growing group of entrepreneurs. However, we remain the most underserved, receiving less than 1 percent of all venture funding for our businesses. In what ways can our community better support one another?
We need to communicate our struggles. So many of us put on a front like we have it all together and like we are doing so well. We need to be real about the struggles to run, scale and manage a business. We also need to be real about the implications running a business has on our emotional and physical health.
Be sure to check out the full ESSENCE 50 list in our November 2017 issue, on newsstands now.