The journey from advocate to entrepreneur has been an incredible one for Monica Musonda, who today is winning recognition around the world for her innovation and her leadership in Zambia and beyond.
Monica Musonda’s path to becoming an entrepreneur has been an interesting one. Born in Zambia, her education and training took her into a highly promising career as an international lawyer - she is a dual qualified English solicitor and Zambian advocate with over fifteen years post qualification experience. Her career took her into senior positions both in private practice (with Clifford Chance & Edward Nathan) and working as in house counsel at the International Finance Corporation in Washington DC. Her most recent corporate position, at Dangote Industries (Lagos, Nigeria) where she served as Director Legal and Corporate Affairs, was to be a key turning point. Monica was the project lead responsible for the Dangote Group’s $500m investment into Zambia to build the country’s largest cement plant, due to be completed in 2014.
"Love what you do. It is the only thing that will keep you going in your new business venture. If you don’t, you might give up at the very first failure encountered if things don’t go your way."
Her rich experience working with one of Africa’s most successful entrepreneurs (Aliko Dangote), combined with the business lessons she learned, gave her the impetus to start her own business. In 2012, she moved back to Zambia and looked for market opportunities that could provide an entrepreneurial opening. She identified the country had a surplus of wheat flour, stimulating value add ideas for the use of this natural product and looking at new markets upon which to build a business. Her concept was to tap into the country’s need to provide affordable nutrition to the mass market by processing Zambia’s high quality wheat into affordable and nutritious pasta and instant noodles. The result was the establishment of her new company, Java Foods, of which she is Founder and CEO. The first processing plant to be commissioned by the company went live this year, in 2014.
"Be innovative. There is no such thing as a free lunch, and there is no substitute for hard work. Be open to new ideas, especially with marketing tools. Choose the best way to sell your business effectively and efficiently. Take advantage of social media as well."
In addition to her entrepreneurial activity, Monica also serves as a director on the Boards of the Bank of Zambia and Dangote Industries Zambia Limited. She is also the Chairperson of Kwacha Pension Trust Fund. She is a founding member of Jurispractice, an organisation that helps provide continuing legal education to lawyers in Zambia. In February 2013, the African Leadership Institute invited Monica to become an Archbishop Desmond Tutu Leadership Associate. She has won numerous awards and plaudits for her entrepreneurial activity in Zambia and beyond.