Poverty shaped my life success

The Herald

Jennifer Mufamba

Entrepreneurship has always been part of his DNA from a tender age, spurred by life challenges his family experienced, which drove him to start his own thriving businesses.

Born to peasant farmers, 40-year-old Tsvangirai Chaga is the founder and proprietor of Wimbrooke Investments, trading as Prime Dry Cleaners and its subsidiary trading as Prime Fruit and Vegetables.

 Mr Chaga says he started his business enterprises at a young age, driven by difficult experiences of his life, poor background and need to pay for education and buy own clothes.

And so the entrepreneurial mindset set in while Mr Chaga was in first grade when he and his older brother were given $5 by their father as a reward for weeding the field.

Rather than spend the money, the two used the funds to buy gum tree seedlings from their primary school plantation and started their own little plantation.

Little did he know this had sowed the seeds for his long journey as an entrepreneur, which saw him sell brown rice from their fields and wild fruits to schoolmates and other villagers.

“This made us have our own source of income to pay school fees and buy a few basic clothes for ourselves,” he said.

The plantation business supplemented their school fees for Forms One and Two after well over 88 gum trees survived from the 100 they initially bought.

Apart from the gum trees project, the Chaga brothers also ventured into brick moulding, supplying the school for its infrastructural projects. 

They also got orders from community members.

Apart from supplementing funds from their parents for their school fees and proceeds from their initiatives also brought in money to cover household requirements.

Mr Chaga did his primary school education at Chimowa primary and secondary schools in Chikomba District, Chivhu.

Unfortunately, the small business initiatives they undertook in their rural areas could not generate sufficient funds to cater for  Advanced Level study fees.

The breakthrough for Mr Chaga, as an entrepreneur, came when his cousin invited him to Bulawayo in January 2000, which was the beginning of a dream that came true after a very long time of suffering in the village.

“My time in Bulawayo was a significant triumph for me because I was able to send out application letters for various jobs and I was fortunate to be hired by Kukura Kurerwa Bus Company as a bus conductor and worked there for four months,” he said.

Advance Wholesalers was next to offer him employment, which saw him trade the ticket book for liquor sales till operation. 

At this point, his life began to take shape, as he was now in a better position to support his family.

The joy was however short-lived after he lost his job at Advance Wholesalers in July 2001, and so he struggled until October the same year when he secured a new job with OK Zimbabwe.

While working for OK, he enrolled with Denmark Training College in Bulawayo and obtained a certificate in Information Technology, then another in Accounting from the Bulawayo Polytechnic.

He furthered his education through British College for Professional Management from where obtained a Diploma in Accounting.

Mr Chaga then left his job with OK Zimbabwe upon securing another in Hwange under the then Central Statistical Office (CSO), now Zimstat, as a provincial admin and personnel officer.

He left the employ of the retail giant after three years to join Hwange Colliery Company as a clubs manager.

 However, all this time he did not abandon furthering his education, completing a Degree in Human Resources and Industrial Relations with Zimbabwe Open University in 2013.

Mr Chaga resigned from Hwange in October 2014 to join Makomo Resources as a stores and procurement manager, staying there for nearly two-and-a-half years before he was retrenchment without notice in April 2017, which shook him briefly.

“However, this was a blessing in disguise as I then took it as an opportunity to start my own projects instead of job hunting again since by the grace of God, during my time with my last employer, I had managed to build a house in the Hwange Empumalanga high-density suburb, which I used when I moved from the company accommodation,” he said.

He inquired about the dry cleaning and laundry services and got equipment quotations from China. 

Mr Chaga imported a 12 kg dry cleaning machine and accessories required to start a dry cleaning business.

All this was financed from his personal savings and the retrenchment package he received from the last employer.

Wimbrooke Dry Cleaning business was officially opened in November 2017, in Hwange urban, servicing many parts of Matabeleland North Province, being the sole service provider.

“The emergence of Covid-19 in 2020, left us with no option but to shut down when the Government announced measures to ensure the safety of the public.

“This is when I had to venture into fruits and vegetable sales, trading as Prime Fruit and Vegetables Hwange.

“This started as a mobile sales shop where I could sell from my personal car and eventually, less than a month ago, I managed to get trading premises in Empumalanga DRC Shopping Centre where the subsidiary is now housed,” he said.

He said self-motivation played a pivotal role in his entrepreneurial journey, while his difficult rural background also bolstered his resolve to succeed and reach for greater heights.

Mr Chaga said like many start ups he faced serious financial challenges due to prevailing economic hardships, which has at times negatively impacted the growth of his business growth.

He spoke highly of the moral support from his friend Tanaka Moyo who always encouraged him to soldier whenever he wanted to quit. 

“My friend’s support played a crucial role in building my confidence and my success” he said.

Mr Chaga said the sky was the only limit amid plans to further grow the business operation beyond the country’s borders.

He said he was working to establish another dry cleaning and laundry services branch in Victoria Falls in the next 2 years while also growing the fruit and vegetable business countrywide.

As an entrepreneur, Mr Chaga implored the Government and business owners to come up with “smart”interventions to grow the economy and to stick  to fiscal policies already in place for businesses to thrive.

In his words of advice to others, he said the youths and rest of the public must never give up on their dreams and visions, as God blesses “the works of hands in due season.”

He also urged them to derive wisdom and guidance from the word of God, quoting Habakkuk 2:2-3 which says, “And the Lord answered me, and said, Write the vision, and make it plain upon tables, that he may run that readeth it.

“For the vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end, it shall speak, and not lie: though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry.”

Poverty shaped my life success