Women 'can unlock any door'

Be the change you want to see in the world. Anti-apartheid activist Mahatma Gandhi may well have had Nombuso Zulu in mind when he uttered these wise words.

Be the change you want to see in the world. Anti-apartheid activist Mahatma Gandhi may well have had Nombuso Zulu in mind when he uttered these wise words.

Zulu, a former nurse-turned- successful-businesswoman, did not let her humble beginnings limit her potential.

After her short stint as a nurse at a Durban hospital, Zulu entered the world of business, where she has made a name for herself as an independent consultant specialising in health and safety.

Through her company, Umlingo Investments, which trades as Umlingo Health and Safety Consultancy, Zulu has worked closely with giant companies such as BP, PetroSA, Basetsane Consultancy as well as other small and medium companies.

She has hosted workshops and conferences aimed at empowering women and is preparing for her next big women's leadership conference to be held in Durban next week.

Zulu believes that every woman can build her own empire, as long as she holds on to her dream and faces adversity with dignity.

Q: How did you realise your dream of becoming an entrepreneur?

A: While working for my last employer, I pondered how these giant companies came about and realised that they didn't start big.

Someone had a dream and started small. I know it will take years to build my empire but I will pursue the dream to the end.

Q: You seem to believe that women are the key to a better life. Why is that?

A: Women play a crucial role as leaders, at home, in communities, at church and in the workplace. They can unlock any door and I'm motivated by the positive spirit in women.

Q: How has being on your own and motivating other women changed your life?

A: Being on my own has had its challenges. Daily, I am challenged by people who don't believe in their dreams and who are held back by obstacles and failures.

I pray for them and get so much inspiration from the stories in the Bible, especially the story of David and Goliath. I love motivating other women. My daily prayer is to make a difference in other people's lives, especially women. It is a huge challenge because though many are free, mentally they are imprisoned.

Q: What would you say are the main challenges that prevent most women from living their dreams?

A: Some women lack passion and they give up easily, quitting just when their dreams are about to come to fruition.

Some women don't believe in themselves and listen to negative people. My advice to them is to delete the cell numbers of people who speak negative things.

Not getting enough support can also be a huge obstacle. When I left my employer my sisters told me what a mistake I had made.

Q: What are the other challenges that hinder women's progress?

A: Finance. Banks don't believe in small businesses as much as they claim to. Where finance is a challenge, seek assistance from people who believe in your dream and find a mentor. PUSH - Pray Until Something Happens.

Q: How can we change that?

A: We must support each other and also teach our children to believe in themselves.

Q: What has been the highlight of your career to date?

A: The growth of my clientele and business at a manageable pace. I do not advertise but get clients through word of mouth.

Q: What keeps you going?

A: My faith - the knowledge that God is with me in good and in bad times. I am kept going by my family and my son Sello, who appreciates everything I do.

The knowledge that every day we are given a chance to do better than yesterday.

Q: What are the life changing experiences you've gone through that have contributed to you being the person you are today? What did you learn from those experiences?

A: The birth of my only son Sello in 1995. I learnt to love unconditionally. My divorce has taught me to isolate incidents.

It doesn't mean I have failed in life.