BY KUDZAI CHIMHANGWA
GOVERNMENT must facilitate the growth of budding business ventures and small-to-medium enterprises in order to revive the country’s ailing economy, a local entrepreneurship expert has said.
Antony Jongwe, a PhD entrepreneurship candidate, said despite the challenging economic environment, opportunities for entrepreneurship remained abundant in the country.
“Capital is a key ingredient and major handicap to entrepreneurship ventures. Government’s recent downward economic growth revision has also exacerbated the situation as funding constraints continue to prevail,” said Jongwe. “The solution lies in government facilitation of entrepreneurship ventures through Sedco (Small Enterprise Development Corporation), which can underwrite risk associated with entrepreneurship.”
Jongwe said the Small Business Administration (SBU) based in the United States, which is dedicated to providing support to small businesses throughout the nation, could be replicated in Zimbabwe.
The SBU provides skills training and underwrites funds to be accessed by entrepreneurs among other state- backed services.
Zimbabwe’s economic terrain has not been as friendly to emerging business enterprises and existing manufacturing concerns despite the modicum of stability brought about by dollarisation three years ago.
High interest rates and short tenure of loans, an acute liquidity crunch, massive competition from imports and low disposable incomes have effectively served to deter business growth prospects.
The high unemployment rate estimated to be hovering well above 80% has not helped matters either.
But a new class of budding entrepreneurs is leaving an indelible mark on the market despite the prevailing challenges.
One such entrepreneur, Tawanda Mutyebere, who runs a chain of fast food outlets, Chicken Slice, has caught the market by storm.
He said that although he started his business on the strength of a bank loan, financial discipline and attention to customer needs were paramount to the growth being witnessed.
“An entrepreneur must be innovative by providing better ideas than competition can. I also pay attention to cash flows coming in and going out through implementing sound management practices,” he said.
The brand already employs 400 people and will be rolling out more branches in the country to cater for increasing demand, he said.
However, the country is saddled by low economic growth against the backdrop of a burgeoning youthful and educated population.
Another entrepreneur, Brighton Machoni, who runs Jaywork Furniture Manufacturing in Msasa, said he was eyeing to enter the regional market in two years’ time.
“The products we manufacture are based on strong woods like mahogany, teak, mukwa and pine, so that has consolidated our market share,” said Machoni, who formed his company last year.
Ndlovu revolutionises telephone calls
Robert Ndlovu, an engineer by profession, started his own Information Communication Technology (ICT) Company, specialising in Voice of Internet Protocol (VoIP) some years ago when he was still based in the United States of America.
He said he realised some specific ICT and telecommunications gaps which were in high demand by local companies and decided to fill them in.
“Internet telephony is the key service and product aimed at cutting telephonic charges for any organisation using broadband and smart technologies that are now abundant,” said Ndlovu.
“Call centre deployment for customer care both inbound and outbound for telemarketing constitutes the company’s other major product and service roles,” he said.
Ndlovu said that the company was moving to be the first to avail international telephone numbers locally.
“You can have a London number from the comfort of your Harare office and call London as if you were in London, simply a local call,” he said.