Junior Bakasa is a young Zimbabwean award winning entrepreneur and businesswoman who is the founder of OV Products. OV Products is a detergents manufacturing company which is home to Kwesha Scouring Powder, Lily Detergent Paste and Lily 2 in 1 Dishwashing Paste.
Where did your passion for entrepreneurship come from?
Since I was a young girl, I knew I wanted to run my own business. I remember just envisioning a life where I was sitting in this room and I was in charge. I didn’t know what I was going to do but I saw myself in a building a lot and from there onwards my life just seemed to take that trajectory.
How did OV Products and OV Events come to be?
I stumbled on a soap making idea and I fell in love with it. My first product was a detergent paste and we faced many challenges but now we have a full-fledged range which we are keen on pushing until it becomes a household name. I was trained by a good chemist and that’s how the manufacturing came about. Passion, discipline and overcoming barriers got us where it is today. As for OV Events, I love bringing ideas to life. My mind is always buzzing with ideas, so I started OV Events as a platform to bring those ideas to life.
What is your process when coming up with a new product?
I visualise everything in my mind first and then I see it from the manufacture’s perspective, the consumers perspective, the buyer’s perspective. I play out different colours, designs for labels and so forth in my mind. We then also test out a product to see if it is solving the consumers problems because at the end of the day it not just about profits but also adding value.
For labels, I will draw it on paper and colour in crayons and then send to the designer. If it’s an event I visualise it as the reveller, what I would want to see, what feelings I would want to experience and so I plan from that angle. I will design the flyer layout all on paper and again send to the designer, I am the worst nightmare for designers as a result.
I know exactly what I want and until I see it, I will not sign off the work. However, at times I would have challenges with designers because of constant changes where I felt I was being pushed to sign off work I didn’t like, to avoid extra charges. I am happy now because I found a designer who understands how my mind works and quickly catches on to what I will be saying and doesn’t complain until we have a perfect product and to me that is important.
What would you say makes your brand unique?
I will respond referring to myself as a brand since I am spread across different projects that I do. Attention to detail, integrity and drive is what makes everything that I touch unique. We look at solving problems in a cost-effective manner. With all our products we are asking the question, how can we be of servitude and so where you offer products or services starting from that angle, it makes everything you do unique.
We push out services and products that are of a high standard and quality. We don’t compromise for profits sake and you can be guaranteed that if you choose to engage us on anything, you are getting a return on your investment.
What have been the highs and lows of your career?
When I succeed on something it’s always a high. When I see my dreams that I would have written on paper coming to life, it’s an overwhelming feeling I cannot explain. Recently, winning the UNDP #YouthConnektZim Covid19 Prevention and Response Challenge was such an honour. We are disinfecting and supplying PPE on the front lines and it’s been an honour to be recognised in that area. The lows are almost every day. Things don’t always go as planned, but I have chosen not to concentrate on what goes wrong, but what goes right. In business if you do not face challenges then you are not running a business, so we must just keep pushing.
How did Her Dreams Matter come to be and what is its mission?
I love empowering girls and women. As a young woman so focused on chasing her dream, I understand the struggles women and young girls go through in pursuit of their goals and dreams, so the trust is there to serve women. To help in capacitating them and supporting them. We offer scholarships through our patrons and other well-wishers and workshops for free to certain groups of girls. Our organisation has different groups for the age ranges we deal with and our material is tailor made to suit each group and its issues. We believe women and girls must be heard and must reach their full potential.
Who has been responsible for nurturing your career?
When it comes to the things that sets your heart on fire, the first responsibility is with you because you are the one person who knows what you truly want. So, that responsibility has been solely mine. I always talk to myself and say, “Jay, no one is coming save you, so you better get up and save yourself, get up and chase that which sets your heart on fire”.
When I knew the path I wanted to embark on it became easy for me to find mentors aligned to my vision. My parents have also been such a great pillar of strength because it is not easy to slide into entrepreneurship especially if you carry about 5 qualifications under your belt. Naturally the path to follow is chasing a professional career. I am grateful for the platform to experiment with my career.
What advice would you offer to upcoming entrepreneurs?
Find your purpose. Discover your passion, perfect it. Be unapologetic about what you want to do. The journey may seem long, and you may face a lot of hurdles. People may not understand your path, but you owe no one an explanation! Noah looked like an idiot until it started to rain. Trust your process and pursue it, relentlessly!
Who inspires you the most in life?
My parents. They are amazing at what they do. My mother is a pastor and she gives her all to the ministry and my father I have seen how he makes money work for him, he doesn’t work for money. So, with that balance in life, serving God and learning how to make the language of this world work for you, it’s an inspiration. Outside that, Oprah. Oprah is a vibe and Madam CJ Walker.
What’s your vision for the next 5 years?
When I started the manufacturing business, I said I wanted to be the next Unilever and in the next 5 years, that dream will have manifested full force. At least that is my dream and I intend to put my all in it. I want to look back at this interview in 5 years’ time and check with you how this would have played out.
What is the soundtrack to your life?
Makanaka Mwari Baba. At the centre of it all there is a God, my God, and HE is the CEO of my business ventures.
How would you like to be remembered?
My legacy will be every life I have touched.