Name: Nicola Holden
Category: Female Entrepreneur of the Year
Tell us a bit about yourself?
I was born and brought up in Harare and moved to the UK when I was 20. Initially I studied and then worked as an Engineer, but I slowly became aware that this career did not bring me happiness. I realised that I needed to do something more creative and so 8 years ago I switched careers, becoming an entrepreneur and starting my own London-based Interior Design business.
My Zimbabwean roots and love of international travel provide inspiration for my designs. Nicola Holden Designs creates beautiful homes for private clients, allowing their personal lives to reflect their success in business. Many of these projects have been featured in national magazines and my designs have even clad the walls of Zimbabwe House. Embassies!
Alongside this, I am a volunteer trustee for the charity Makomborero which supports gifted Zimbabwean students, giving them the chance to complete their A-level education which they otherwise would not have had. Makomborero provides the platform for these amazing students to excel, giving them hope for their futures. This is probably the most rewarding aspect of my career.
Drawing from my own life experiences, I am also co-author of The 20 Project, a book aimed at helping young people to make the transition from study to work. The book is a collection of wisdom and advice aimed at encouraging people to think about their place in the world. 100 per cent of the profits made by the project go to Makomborero.
How did you find out you had been nominated?
I got a great surprise when an email dropped into my inbox advising me that I had been nominated!
What was the feeling when you found out you had made the shortlist?
I felt very proudly Zimbabwean when I found out that I had been nominated, and very humbled that someone else had noticed the difference I am striving to make in this world.
What would it mean to win?
Winning this award would be a very proud moment for me. I feel it would put Zimbabwe on the map in the interior design world, and would help me in leveraging even more support for Makomborero.
What keeps you motivated?
The thread that runs through all of what I do is that I have been given a chance to make a difference to other people’s lives. I create homes that enrich my client’s lives; I work with talented artisans, keeping traditional crafts alive; and I support the amazing students of Makomborero who will, no doubt, one day make a significant difference in Zimbabwe. This is what keeps me motivated.
What projects are you currently working on?
I am currently working on projects for several private clients, as well as the design of a coffee shop. Alongside this I am writing an interior design book, as well as working on developing a small range of products that can be manufactured in Zimbabwe, but marketed in the first world. Additionally, Makomborero has just announced an exciting new project – a mobile science laboratory that can be moved between schools in Harare’s high density suburbs. This will make a significant difference to GCSE Science understanding in these schools, giving the students a much better chance in their exams.