Her love for figures has seen her transforming from the serious and appropriate mathematical calculations to the unpredictable world of lucky numbers, albeit in a business sense.
REPORT BY GODWIN MUZARI
For seven years, Letina Undenge was a high school mathematics teacher before she ventured into the textile business that now doubles as her personal enterprise with the recently launched gambling establishment called Star Lotto.
In a few months of its launch, Star Lotto has attracted thousands of punters and the organisation has given away thousands of dollars in its draws held twice every week.
At the helm of Star Lotto (as chairperson) is Undenge who describes her latest business venture as fun-filled.
“I am really enjoying this new venture. It is exciting to see people from all walks of life pocketing thousands of dollars just because of luck. Winning is not certain in lotto but people seem to enjoy the game. Indeed, some have become rich overnight and the response to Star Lotto has been encouraging,” said Undenge.
“This new lotto was established in November 2012 but we already have 200 terminals countrywide and figures have been multiplying each day. This is a fun-filled business but the most important thing is that it is a way for anyone to contribute to charity despite the chances of winning or losing.”
After every draw, the lotto cedes the mandatory 25% of its income to charity and Undenge says it is an important way of giving back to the society.
Star Lotto has brought in international partners and made sure that verification and audit of numbers are done outside the country to limit chances of forgery and corruption.
Star Lotto has joined a number of other growing lottery establishments. Undenge sees her involvement in the organisation as the zenith of her business adventures that have a long trail.
After quitting her job as a teacher in 1998, she briefly worked for a local insurance company as a sales representative before venturing into personal business.
She formed Panache Enterprises in 2002 as a retailer of protective clothing until the company grew into a manufacturing concern that now supplies numerous retailers in Harare and Bulawayo.
The company was formed in Bulawayo and moved to Harare a few years later. Undenge’s dream is to see more local business people making inroads in local industries.
“I grew up in an enterprising family. My father is a pastor but he ran a restaurant. We would take turns to work at his shop when we were not at school. My mother was a knitter and a very enterprising woman.
“I saw the potential of running my own business when I was very young and I can say that was the inspiration to be where I am today. Christian values mentored me and I had a vision to be a businessperson even when I was still in the civil service.
“Many people do not understand how a Christian can be involved in a gambling affair but I try to make them understand that lotto is legal. It is different from other underground gambling games. I love going to church and I know God leads me in every adventure that I embark on.”
She is married to Deputy Minister of Economic Planning and Investment Promotion Samuel Undenge and says she enjoys being with her family whenever she is free.
“We enjoy visiting friends and relatives when we are not busy. I like cooking for my husband and children every day. My social life is tied to my family. I attend a number of social gatherings with my husband and I easily juggle between being a wife, mother, businesswoman and leader.”
She was born and bred in Bulawayo, where she met the deputy minister in 2004 and they got married in 2006.