Zodwa Mkandla is one of Zimbabwe’s most prominent business leaders and socialites. However, based on her affluent lifestyle, constant travel around the world, and constant mixing with the rich and powerful, few people would guess that her first job was as a bus conductor.
In an interview with Ghanaian YouTube personality and travel vlogger Wode Maya, Zodwa revealed part of her life story and how she got started.
The 50-year-old Zimbabwean businesswoman spoke about her early years, education, her first job, and how she eventually started her own business.
Zodwa Mkandla Early Years and Education
“I used to go to school. I would walk 10-15 kilometres to school from my first year of school up to grade 7 in the village. That’s where my father came from, so I stayed with his mom. That’s where I was staying, that’s why I stayed in the village.
“When my grandmother passed away, then I moved to Harare to come and join the parents. Then education, year up to form 3, then moved back to Bulawayo. Did my education and finished, then came back to Harare and did my diplomas: Travel and Tourism.”
Zodwa Mkandla: First Job As A Bus Conductor
Zodwa Mkandla stated that after completing her tertiary education, she obtained her first job as a bus conductor. She held that position for two years.
“Got my first job at a company called Express Motorways as a bus conductor. I was selling bus tickets at that company, I think, for two years, then I left.
Zodwa Mkandla: Career and Businesses
The businesswoman went on to say that she was never satisfied with her jobs. As a result, she became a “job-trotter” because she was constantly changing jobs. She decided to start her own business after some introspection in order to stop moving around in search of fulfillment.
She stated that she was a teacher prior to embarking on the journey to start her own business.
“Prior to that, I was teaching after work. I have always been an entrepreneur all my life. After work, I would go to college to learn how to make cakes, to learn how to cook… and then during weekends, I would be doing wedding cakes, I would be doing events, and I would be teaching. I ended up having my own classroom at home, where I was teaching travel and tourism.
“I have always wanted to make my own money without working for somebody. So that is the journey.
“In 1999, we decided to start a company called Real Travel and Tours with my four partners, one of which I had met as my student where I was teaching. He said, ‘you can’t be a teacher and be working for somebody. Can you start our own travel agency?’”
“We started our own travel agency in 1999 with this gentleman who was my student. He had money, and his own businesses; he had started before me.
“We started the company in 1999. In 2000 I was the Marketing Director, there was a CEO and other people.”
Zodwa Mkandla went on to say that she was not satisfied with the way things were going at the company. She felt that as Marketing Director, she did the majority of the work by bringing in new clients for the company. She felt she should receive the lion’s share of the income.
“Still, I was not satisfied. I felt I was doing all the marketing for the business; I was bringing in all the clients.
“I felt that all the money belonged to me. I did not want to share with the other three directors. So I moved again. 2003 I started my own entity, Traverze Travel, which is where I am now.”
Since then, she has achieved great success with her business. She has won awards and received highly lucrative contracts.
Traverze handled the Zimbabwe government’s foreign travel bookings while former President Robert Mugabe was in office. However, Mary Chiwenga’s East Town Holdings was awarded the lucrative contract in 2018, shortly after former President Emmerson Mnangagwa took office.-iHarare