KUDAKWASHE Chivarange is among thousands of other Zimbabwean indigenous industrialists who have maneuvered past the country’s economic turbulence.
About 100 grinding mills, several hammermills and maize shellers are lined up at Kudakwashe Chivarange’s firm in Harare’s Mbare township in Zimbabwe, where he has set up his base.
Known as Chivaz Grinding Mills PL, since 2009, Chivarange’s indigenous firm has made headways even as Zimbabwe’s economy has struggled for decades.
A lawyer by profession for seven years from 2000-2007, Chivarange said he worked as a legal officer at Haddon Motors, a local private company which was not spared by the country’s 2007 hyperinflation.
“Then Haddon Motors closed down due to the tough economic conditions. I then did a course in welding and fabrication, and after that, I then registered Chivaz Grinding Mills,” Chivarange said.
As a result, Chivarange now has 10 shops, starting with the first one in Harare, the Zimbabwean capital, then in Bulawayo, Gweru, Masvingo, two shops in Zvishavane and one each in Chiredzi, Ngundu and Karoi as well as Chinhoyi.
Chivarange is from Zvishavane.
“On a good month, I produce 100 grinding mills, which are quickly bought by my customers, most of whom are farmers,” said Chivarange, who also claimed that he employs 35 people at his firm in Mbare.
With a single grinding mill fetching about US$1,200, this means he earns an estimated US$120,000 monthly in sales.
Apparently, many indigenous firms like Chivaz Grinding Mills have turned out to be growing backyard informal employers in Zimbabwe. Owners of such firms like Chivarange are basking in the glory of success, even as the country’s major foreign-owned companies are shutting down.
Since the hyperinflation era which clobbered the country around 2007-2009, hundreds of foreign-owned firms shut down, paving the way for indigenous firms which have had to endure a hostile economic climate.
According to economists here, only indigenous owned firms have managed to survive Zimbabwe’s comatose economy.
“I think the biggest advantage that local businesses have over foreign businesses is that they have local knowledge, local expertise, local networks. They are actually able to adapt better to the challenging local economic environment than foreign investors,” Prosper Chitambara, an economist at the Labour and Economic Development Research Institute of Zimbabwe, said.
So even as many formal companies are closing down owing to the country’s failing economy, many firms like the ones run by Chivarange have stood the test.
“As a company, we have discovered that one of the few reasons why our economy is always down is because Zimbabwean business people shy away from manufacturing or production, and so we are tapping into that gap,” said Chivarange.
To this, Chitambara said local investors have no other option but to adapt to the local environment or the home environment.
“Normally, local investors tend to adapt better than foreign investors because foreign investors can be very sensitive. No investor would want to invest in an environment that is highly uncertain and turbulent. So that becomes a challenge when the environment is not stable for a foreigner to invest,” he said.
- Anadolu Agency