Chief Executive Officer, Diaspora Support Initiative (DSi) Zambia Limited

What we do at DSi

Apart from our traditional offerings like property valuations, estate agency, property management and consultancy; we specialize in offering critical real estate market intelligence for decision making, we also undertake feasibility studies, market research, highest and best use studies.

How I got started

Once I had a very clear idea about the type of business I wanted to venture into i.e. provision of professional services mostly to Zambians living abroad, I gave notice to my immediate supervisor that I was planning to resign in about 3 to 6 months.

Of course he didn’t take me seriously. Three months later I submitted my resignation notice and towards the end of July 2013 I walked away from the Bank (Standard Chartered Bank Zambia Plc) never to look back again!

How things progressed over time

I walked away from the bank on a Friday, the following Monday I was sitting at a new desk in my small work space with nothing but hopes of carving out a niche for myself.

Two years later, I had employed three people to assist me and our client base both in the diaspora and within Zambia was growing.

In the third year DSi was occupying the whole building where previously we only occupied a small space.

Today, we have several corporate clients and our professional offerings have also become more precise.

The changes since I started

Together with other professionals in this industry, our focus has always been reinforced professionalism and ethical practice. Our efforts have yielded many dividends including greater recognition of professional service delivery by our clients.

One year ago I was elected President of the Zambia Institute of Estate Agents (ZIEA), a role that has helped me to further contribute to the growth of professional service delivery and ethical practice. I am concluding the publication of a book entitled ‘Ethics for Estate Agents’ which will be available soon in the year.

If I started all over again

Looking back, I am increasingly convinced that what I did was the right thing. I seem to notice that almost everything I have gone through the last 5 to 10 years was somehow preparing me for the various challenges and responsibilities that I have now.

Literally every aspect of my life previously is finding meaning and relevance in some aspect of my work today. I cannot honestly think of what I could have done differently.

In the very recent past

I have assumed a reasonably significant leadership role within the real estate profession as it relates to estate agency and valuation. I have also played a key role in disseminating information about various types of real estate issues to professionals and the general public (through several radio interviews, television interviews, speaking engagements and through social media).

Other important changes

I have recently served as guest lecturer at the University of Lusaka (UNILUS) corporate real estate training; I deliver weekly lectures on Corporate Governance at the same University.

I have just been requested to provide support and guidance on the re-branding of the valuation surveying profession in Zambia and have been co-opted into the Committee reviewing amendments to the relevant laws.

Passions and pass times

I would say writing. I have written a column for the Brandline Newspaper covering various aspects of real estate decision making (the articles will appear in a book on real estate decision making that will be published very soon).

I have also written another book focused on inspiring patriotism among Zambians and another book focused on children. Both books are available at prominent bookshops in Lusaka and the Copperbelt.

Extremely blessed and thankful for

Having a seat on the Zambian Institute of Estate Agents (ZIEA) board, the School Board of the Eagles’ Nest School ( a school that has recorded 100% pass rates for the last 3 years) the KIME Board (a non-governmental organization that provides social protection and empowerment for women and girls in Ngombe Compound in Lusaka) and a seat on the Stand and Sing of Zambia (SASOZ) board; a Corporate Social Responsibility project that was created to inculcate patriotism and a sense of responsibility into young people in schools by creating SASOZ clubs.

Influencers thus far

Peter Njovu, who I fondly refer to as ‘Ba Chiwele’ has had probably the most influence on me. He is like an elder brother to me. Early in my life his sheer brilliance, hard work and superior performance has been the bench-mark towards which I have aspired.

His high confidence backed by actual performance has always stirred me forward in everything that I have done. My interaction and closeness with him made me realize that I can improve my capacity; to sheer brilliance and superior performance.

Advice to a young professional

Is simply that he or she must determine as early as possible in their career to not only build their careers, but also to make a significant contribution to their profession and to the country as a whole.

We have too many graduates and professionals whose impact on their industry and the country is almost zero. The investment that their families and country has made in their education surely must translate into some value to their profession and to the country as a whole. It is not too much to expect some return from you!

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Kwachalelo, be successful, be well.

About Balekile Gausi

A prolific writer covering work, money and lifestyle that passed through university coming away with a very good grasp of public administration, money and banking, international relations. She was a civil servant that quickly opted for self-employment. And as a trained and published writer she has been freelance feature writing for several decades but has also published fiction in Drum and The BBC Focus on Africa Magazine. Now settled and living in Lusaka after many years of living in several cities in Africa and Europe; Balekile is also an avid bird watcher, is married with 3 adult children and has an extraordinary fondness for chikanda ( the Zambian delicatessen that vegans and non-vegans world-wide are putting on their bucket list!)

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