2020 YPO Global Impact Award African Winner and entrepreneur Patricia Nzolantima is dedicated to empowering African women and girls. As founder and chairwoman of Congo-based Bizzoly Holdings, she runs a marketing and advertising agency as well as Ubizcabs, a transportation and logistics company that employs only women drivers.
In addition, Nzolantima serves as managing partner for EXP-CommunicArt, which activates brands from 19 offices in 15 African countries through experiential marketing with big brands like Coca-Cola, Samsung, P&G, and Unilever. But she also uses her skills to help local businesswomen trying to compete with these big brands.
To that end, she founded Working Ladies WIA Hub, an economic empowerment group with 1,500 members that incubates women business owners, helping them reach their full potential so they can help develop the African continent. (To put things in perspective, the DRC ranks 176th out of 189 nations on the United Nations’ Gender Inequality Index.) She regularly provides pro bono work on packaging and branding for women businesses as well as coaching and mentoring.
“Women would start a business because they were very passionate about what they were doing, but there was no help to grow,” she says.
One of Nzolantima’s goals is to show that women can succeed at jobs traditionally for men. “When you start entrepreneurship in Africa, no one believes in you, not even your family,” she explains. “There are lots of doubts, and banks don’t necessarily trust women because African women generally don’t have a credit history.”
Nzolantima’s work is focused on reducing poverty, creating opportunities for employment, and helping women become independent income earners. “My greatest hope is to help African women become models of inspiration in their own communities,” she says. “When a woman gets a paycheck from her own business, she helps her family. She helps her village. She impacts the next generation — and if we want to reduce poverty, we need to start with them. The business revolution in Africa will be driven by women, not men.”
In a recent interview with Your Business magazine, Nzolantima said, “Now is the time to make a profound impact, to inspire each other to have more humanity, to think differently, and take time to listen and reflect.”
Her hope for the future? A development bank for women. “For me, the next five years is about how can I work to make more women happy, to lift them, to give them funds, and to make them think bigger.”