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Alcinda Cumba Durão: Providing interior design & décor for homes, offices, commercial properties

"IZHA Interior Design helps busy people who don't have the time nor the zest to transform their space into the sanctuary of their dreams. We specialise in interior design and décor of homes, offices, commercial properties. Our design style is clean, light, minimalist and simplistic, considering space functionality and highlighting visual amplitude."

Q1:Tell us about your yourself:

I am a 32-year-old woman, married with the love of my life, mother to a 2-year-old princess. I've always had passion for Law (fairness), decoration, Psychology and for transmitting the knowledge I acquire through books and my own experience. A year ago, I decided to combine all of my passions and build 2 companies, where I would be able to do and be everything I believe I was meant to do and be on this earth.

My motto is to “be whoever you want to be” and I strongly believe that each of us have the responsibility of making the world a better place. Therefore, I aspire to serve, inspire and, hopefully, impact people's lives, so they can find their own path and meaning of their lives.

Q2:What does your company do?:

IZHA Interior Design: We help busy people who don't have the time nor the zest to transform their space into the sanctuary of their dreams. We specialise in interior design and décor of homes, offices, commercial properties. Our design style is clean, light, minimalist and simplistic, considering space functionality and highlighting visual amplitude. / JD&D Group: We assist foreign companies to start, expand and close their businesses in Mozambique. We work for the corporate sector and facilitate our clients' ventures by being a focal point for different types of corporate services.

Q3: What inspired you to start your business?:

After being at life risk and losing my first daughter at 7 months of pregnancy, due to a severe preeclampsia in 2019, I decided to stop working and stay home during my second pregnancy. I saw myself unemployed and with no luck finding a new job, despite various job applications.

During my daughter's first year of life, I found motherhood SO challenging, that I began to put my life into perspective and to readjust my priorities. When she turned 1, I felt so strong, empowered and resilient that I made the decision of starting my 2 businesses, in order to work on my passions and inspire other women to pursue their dreams, despite their past traumas and regardless of being a mom.

Q4: How do you define your business model; what differentiates your products or Services from others?:

IZHA Interior Design: We provide services related to construction of buildings, furniture, ornaments and accessories and procurement. JD&D Group: We offer services such as legal consulting, administrative, secretarial and HR services, contracts management, as well as brand management and representation.

In terms of product, we sell bottled water, as representatives of one of the biggest and renowned bottle water company in Mozambique (Vumba). We also have a mentoring program for helping adolescents and young adults in their professional journey.

Q5: Starting a business is not easy. What struggles did you experience in the infant years of your company and how did you overcome it?:

Considering that I only have a year of experience in business, I couldn’t agree more that it is a testing journey. But I also find it equally rewarded and which I wouldn’t be able to put a price tag on:

1) One of my biggest struggles, at the moment, are recruitment and training of an ideal team, with insufficient capital, as well as creating management systems to grow and scale my businesses, due to time constraints. Having the company still dependent on me, while scaling and expanding, is quite challenging.

2) In the past, my biggest constraint was financial shortage for growth. To overcome it, I decided to sell my country house, and invested in my businesses.

3) Another biggest challenge was finding a good email host in Mozambique. We struggled greatly with having technical issues with our emails. The solution we found was to register another domain and find a different hosting company.

Q6: What do you know today that you wish you would have known when you first got started?:

I wish I would’ve learned all the skills necessary to build a successful business earlier. I wish I would’ve learned sooner how to invest, how to sell, how to lead and how to deal with stress.

Q7: What are your 3 priorities right now:

Our biggest priorities right now include:

  • Build internal systems to optimise time and processes, to grow the business.

  • Increase revenue, so we can be in position to give our team better working conditions, such as health insurance, consumables and more functional software.

  • Continue to build our brand internationally, which will demonstrate to the world that an African country, with all its difficulties, as Mozambique, have people who can make a difference and create an impact in the world.

Q8: What are your future plans and aspirations for your company?:

I aspire to be a national and international reference in the fields I operate, in terms of professionalism, high-standard quality of services and an inclusive work culture inside the company. I'd like to be known for my strong and honest personality and I intend to only give wholehearted and committed young people an opportunity to work for a greater cause than themselves at our businesses.

Our mentoring program for adolescents and young people aims at finding and helping this segment of people, so they can feel seen and heard enough to build their self-confidence, go after their dreams and be exceptional at their ventures. I believe that this is the type of people that will help develop of our country and, hopefully, change the world.

Q9: Advice to other entrepreneurs or to your younger self?:

My advice would be:

a) Don’t be afraid of the competition. You are a unique human being, who can add value to peoples’ lives just by constantly evolving and becoming a better version of yourself

b) Know your own measurement of success, so then you know when you have reach it.

c) Develop a passion for personal development and self-transcendent.

d) Keep in mind to always be willing to serve and help others. This way you will build strong relationships, which, in my experience, become easier to add value in their businesses; and e) Be your first cheerleader and believe in yourself.

f) Be humble, be strong, be resilient, be kind, be fearless and be an eternal student of life.

Our resilience is not only tested but also revealed during storms, especially perfect storms, where pain is compounded on our doorstep, close to home. Dr Sam Chand in his flagship book Leadership Pain: The Classroom for Growth, shares how one's pain threshold, more than their skills or qualifications, is the ultimate decider of how high they will climb in their leadership journey to the top.

We do not ask for pain nor do we apply for challenges to come our way: they come uninvited. We were both inspired and humbled to hear Alcinda Cumba Durão (Isa) 's story. Beyond admiring her creativity, finished work and the work-life spaces making up her interior decor portfolio, we admired her courage, resilience and bold leadership. For a moment, forget the imaginary Wakanda city, showcased in the movie by the same name, we have warriors, real life warriors walking among us, in our daily encounters across Africa. That warrior legacy is embodied in Alcinda's decorative journey.

We look forward to what she and her team will do next, as they bring their signature touches to every space laid out on their growth path. More wins.

I love the find a way to win spirit Alcinda Cumba Durão (Isa), has, her resilience shines through what she does. Losing her child, navigating health challenges, then finding herself without a job, all that amid COVID uncertainties, is quite a rough patch for one to navigate. To see her gathering herself from the ash-heap of challenges: bouncing back into the workplace, to work with corporates across board, being relevant to their transition needs, is remarkable, making hers an awe inspiring journey.

Prior to bouncing back into the workplace by founding: IZHA Interior Design, Limitada she first had to navigate what most would refer to as a perfect storm. Yet, she emerged victorious, and sailed through. Revisiting her passion to decorate: hers is a real life story of ashes being exchanged for beauty. Her warrior spirit: is contagious and admirable.

We look ahead, with such anticipation: as to the milestones that IZHA Interior Design, Limitada will cover, going forward, in the capable hands of Alcinda Cumba Durão (Isa) and her team. Here's to their signature decorative touch: enhancing Africa's living spaces, work environments and play areas.

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