Kwekwe known until 1983 as Que Que, is a city in the Midlands Province, in the center of Zimbabwe roughly equidistant from Harare to the northeast and Bulawayo to the southwest. It is a centre for steel and fertiliser production in the country.
Kwekwe born and Joburg based Yolanda Ndlovu, a Gender & Environmental activist and founder of Green mat Designs; an eco-friendly fashion brand that creates pieces from recycled material.
Yolanda speaks passionately about social and environmental issues; “I am a craft person so I combined my craft with the love for the environment to start my business”. My products are made from materials that are either waste fabrics or easily biodegradable. I only focus on accessories with an eco-friendly twist. I make my accessories from design waste or repurposed material that other designers, fabric wholesalers and retailers do not want to use any more.
Kwekwe town was founded in 1898 as a gold mining town, and hosts Zimbabwe’s National Mining Museum. The town remains an industrial centre of the country. The name stems from the Zulu word “isikwekwe”, which means “scurvy”; this can be seen in the amazing creative products that Green Mat Designs make.
Like any young entrepreneur owning a business, Miss Ndlovu mentions that challenges through the journey are inevitable. Access to information is still limited especially for start-ups.Trying to compete with cheaper imports in an economy like ours where people are trying to save up and look good. The fashion industry is an already flooded market so the challenge I have faced is getting my brand to stand out and be noticed by clients. Our products aren’t as cheap to produce and therefore do not sell cheap either.
Women empowerment and social activism for children are close to my heart and working towards an eco-friendly Africa Business environment.
The Inspired Africa (TIA) took Yolanda Ndlovu (YN) through a quick question and answer session.
(TIA) If you could be a pair of jeans what style would you be?
(TIA) When people look at me, they never guess that I
(YN) That i can sing .Not those in the shower singers
(TIA) What is the best advice you have ever received?
(YN) It will take time, you need to be patient and consistent.
(TIA) How has the business been since you launched it?
(YN) It’s been growing from strength to strength. Some moments are slower than others but I am grateful for every experience.
(TIA) Who is your target market?
(YN) Women of all races and ages who love standing out. They are not used to the norm and won’t conform to it.
(TIA) How do you plan on expanding your brand?
(YN) I plan on expanding my brand through creating more products and getting into other markets in the region.
(TIA) What is your advice to young people who want to start and run successful businesses?
(YN) Don’t be a solopreneur! You cannot do it alone. Collaborate with or learn from those who have done it before you. Do not be afraid to network.