Small business stories that inspired in 2019

10 Jan, 2020 - 00:01 0 Views

eBusiness Weekly

Joseline Sithole

The Minister of Finance and Economic Development Professor Mthuli Ncube assured the nation that austerity measures are over and we can look forward to a better 2020 though we still have a lot of work ahead of us.

The Business world will be feeling that in 2019 they really earned their pay as they coped with what was in many ways, the most turbulent year on record economically speaking.

And indeed it was a challenging year for a lot of Micro and Small to Medium Enterprises (MSMEs). However, through it all, I was moved by the resilience that I witnessed within the Micro Small and Medium Enterprise (MSME) sector, as they held their own within the business fraternity.

It seems, Zimbabweans live up to their name of being the most hard working, most studious people on earth. As homage to this remarkable year, I would like to reflect on the stories within the MSME sector that inspired me and still gave me hope for the economic recovery of our country.

Innovation and

creativity unleashed

We are glad that our universities have finally come to the party and opened up innovative hubs and centres throughout the country.

Innovation and creativity will be one of the key skills that will be needed by our youths if this country is to become a middle-income country by 2030.

Currently, there are a lot of innovative initiatives within the Information Technology sector with our youths winning a couple of international accolades. (Simbarashe Mhuriro (30) is listed in the 2016 ranking of the 30 most promising young entrepreneurs in Africa.)

However, I was inspired by the innovation by the Financial Securities Exchange Limited (FINSEC), which was featured in the Business Weekly (December 20-26).

I respect any company or organisation that designs financial products for MSMEs. FINSEC has launched a small to medium enterprises funding and listing platform.

Known as the Growth Enterprises Market (GEM) Portal this platform enables qualifying SMEs to raise capital on the stock exchange.

On the product side, Tinashe Manyonga, who calls himself the “Chief Innovator”, has created one of my favourite products, a Temp Bag. This bag is a contraption, which does a lot of things such as cooking, warming up and cooling food. You can even sit on it comfortably.

Young entrepreneurship

The Kukura Business Accelerator (KBA) has successfully partnered with ZB Bank in an innovative programme to develop young entrepreneurs throughout the country.

I was particularly inspired by the story of Tawananyasha Murinda who started a business and named it Tawana Organic Produce and has been supplying eggs to the community.

Another young entrepreneur, Tinashe Mugari is into dog breeding. With the very high rate of unemployment it is important to raise children who have an entrepreneurial mindset.

The fight against corruption

Zimbabwe’s corruption ratings have not been very encouraging and President Mnangagwa, should be applauded for all the efforts to alleviate this scourge.

To this end, programmes such as the Clean Wealth Creation founded by Petros Mandaza have come into existence to conscientise the business community on the concept of  Kingdom Economics which aims at creating ethically astute businesses.

A new breed of young

women in businesses

In my article entitled “A New Look at Youth Oriented Businesses” I wrote about three young “womentrepreneurs” who are making waves in creating juices, making jewellery and make up.

I have since discovered more young women who have been making waves in the beauty industry. It looks like the beauty industry has rich pickings for young ladies.

Most beauty products on the market are imported and are quite pricey.

Valsante Organics was created by Valerie Chigunde and creating hair products for African hair.

Tanya Mazoe is 19 years old and her brand is called Young Skin. It is encouraging to note that these products are using locally sourced products such as avocados and honey to name just a few.

Positive policy space

I was privileged to attend two very important consultative forums and was particularly impressed with the SME Review Policy, which was conducted through consultative forums throughout the whole country.

We hope that the new policy will enhance the growth of the SME sector in the next five years with a view towards growing SMEs into multinational companies.

In the same breadth, I was encouraged by steps being made to finalise the Africa Free Continental Trade Area (AFCFTA), which seeks to enhance trade within the African Continent.

Zimbabwean SMEs can take advantage of this vast market that presents immense opportunities for our products without restrictive trade barriers.

Rural SME Association coming into being

Mr Mutombwa is a passionate veteran of the Zimbabwe War of Liberation who has been working for a long time to enhance community livelihoods especially in the Mutasa District.

Mr Mutombwa has realised a gap in the market and has started a rural based SME association. Notably, the majority of the sixteen or so associations in Zimbabwe are urban based.

Rural SMEs contribute enormously to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) especially within the agricultural sector. I am hoping that the Zimbabwe Rural SME Association (ZIRUSA) will enhance the growth of rural based SMEs and will finally give rural SMEs their voices.

Budding literary arts scene

I believe that there is a need for artistic people to explore writing as a business. Publishing has become easier with all the online tools that are at our disposal.

This year I was inspired by Imelda Tsumba’s book entitled “Excellence”. Anesu Hove at 20 years also produced a book on self transformation entitled “Transforming into the Best Version of Yourself”.

I should add that these books were both good reads.  I also went back to my archives and fished out one of my favourite books entitled “Greatness” by Rabson Shumba. This is a book I read every year for inspiration.

Financial sector taking SMEs seriously

I was also inspired by the deliberate policies within the financial sector that are intentionally targeting SME products.

The financial sector is now leaning towards designing and offering products meant for SMEs.

The Steward Bank Pod programme has been consistently building business capacity for the SMEs in their books. The ZB Bank’s partnership with KBA to enhance kids’ entrepreneurship is another favourite. The Commercial Bank of Zimbabwe’s Young Entrepreneurship Programme (YEP) has assisted a sizable number of youth SME start-ups. However, on the whole start-up funds for innovative products still remain very low.

NGOs are also doing their best to educate the rural population on financial inclusion.

Breaking new ground

Women are increasingly breaking new ground into male dominated industries. Hilda Huni is one of the very few women who has broken into the furniture manufacturing business.

I was also inspired by Ellen Chiwenga who is a sports agent based in the United Kingdom. Joyce Shiri who was featured in my article entitled “The Business of Image” which has opened up new conversations on the Soft Skills Revolution.

Providence Moyo founder of Divine Pro Products has seen her beauty products being sold in large retail stores such as Edgars and Choppies.

I was encouraged by Greta Thunberg a young 16-year-old climate change activist, who was named Time Magazine Person of the Year for 2019.

Either way, SMEs will have to realise that business and climate change are inevitably linked together. Here is hoping that our 16-year-olds will leave “WhatsApping” for a while and start changing the world for good.

“SMEcentric” countries

Countries such as Japan and India have found the right SME empowerment approach and should be an inspiration to countries such as Zimbabwe.

Japan has the highest proportion of SMEs among the industrialised nations as they account for 99 percent of the total enterprises. In India, 80 percent  of all countries’ businesses are SMEs while South Africa 91 percent  are SMEs.

In addition, according to Ana Boata; “SMEs enjoy a very favourable business climate in Canada and a favourable one in Hong Kong, the US, the Netherlands and Singapore where there are flexible labour markets, tax laws and good financing conditions”. Furthermore,  SMEs also contribute significantly to GDP and employment ratings. According to an OECD 2017 report SMEs by number dominate the world business stage at 95 percent  of all enterprises accounting for 60 percent  of the private sector employment.

In conclusion, I salute all the MSMEs out there who have, despite the odds, persevered in these difficult economic situations. I salute my two colleagues on this page, Robert Gonye and Tsitsi Mutendi whose content continues to make me a better SME expert. And a very big thanks to you my readers who encourage me every week with their positive comments.

For next year I will encourage all SMEs to play by the rules and be ferocious (Phil Knight).


Joseline Sithole is the founder of Southern Africa Development Consultants (SODECO) an SME Research and Capacity Building Firm. She writes in her own capacity. Contact — [email protected]   or 0773634062.


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