From School dropout to successful businessman

Witten by Amos Batisayi 

His story is one that inspires youths from rural communities not to resort to drugs and alcohol abuse to escape from the vagaries of the harsh economic climate but work hard to earn a living.

Principal Ngwenya a 21-year-old young businessman narrates how he successfully started his business and is managing the rough terrain despite only completing only 7th-grade education in Zimbabwe.

I dropped out of school when l was doing my 7th grade. I found myself overwhelmed by a lot of work to do at home as l was the only boy child at home. A lot of jobs had to be done such as cattle herding, cultivating in the fields, and other jobs that have to be done at the homestead.

In 2018, Principal Ngwenya attended an entrepreneurship training workshop under the Agriculture Business Centre (ABC) facilitated by Welthungerhilfe (WHH) in partnership with Empretec Zimbabwe and funded by the European Union.

The training workshop covered Entrepreneurial Competences and Business Management skills; issues such as risk-taking, opportunity seeking and persistence, business plan writing, costing, bookkeeping, among other modules. 

Principal Ngwenya narrates how the Micro Entrepreneurship Training (MET) opened up avenues and opened his business thinking ideas.

“I realized that there was an opportunity in retailing of groceries in my area and surrounding communities as people had to travel long distances covering more than thirty kilometers (30) to buy groceries.”

“Soon after attending the training, l started to run a small business specializing in selling groceries after seeing an opportunity in the selling of groceries” says Principal.

“l was operating my business from a rented shop. Initially, the charges were fair and l afforded them. However, the landlord changed the goalpost as he asked me to pay a beast as rentals covering the whole year.

I thought of closing the shop considering what the landlord asked me to do, however, determination kept me going and kept going on. Faced with this huge task that seemed impossible l thought of the competences discussed during training and was determined to persist by taking an alternative action. I made a goal to start building my shop as l was determined to continue running the business.

Using my experience in brick making l decided to start to make brick for the construction of my shop. I used approximately USD 3500 to build my shop.”

Principal Ngwenya Merchandising his groceries

Principal started using his newly built shop early this year soon after completing it.

The COVID 19 epidemic which brought the world to a standstill has also presented new opportunities to the young man.

Like many communal areas in Gokwe South district, Dzvuke area where Principal Ngwenya’s shop is located, has a lot of people who are working in neighbouring countries such as South Africa, Botswana, and Namibia. These people used to send groceries and money to their families using Malayicha (registered cross-border transporters).

The closure of borders meant that these people could no longer send money to their relatives in the country. When the country was put on national lockdown new business ideas started popping up for me “the closure of borders and travel restrictions that were put in place restricting the movement of people, however people had to eat, so l used that as an opportunity to start online selling of groceries.

Initially I was receiving Ecocash from people who are based in different towns in Zimbabwe paying for goods for their parents/ relatives and I would deliver to their respective places. Some would come to pick them at the shop.

Then one day someone told me that he would want to send me money via Mukuru then in return l would give his parents some goods as they could not travel to Gokwe Center to buy the groceries and even collect the money. That was how l started receiving money from different countries and in return, l would give them groceries.”

He is putting into practice the record-keeping skills that he learnt during the MET training and further strengthened by the Business Development Services (BDS). During the training, l learned that record keeping is important in business operations and l am now putting into practice. When l receive money from South Africa via Mukuru l record into my books and l also record the items that will be requested by the sender of the money.

Principal Ngwenya’s books that he is using to keep records for online sells. Once goods get collected he has a unique way of confirmation that looks like cancellation.

My network has grown since I started this business. On a monthly basis l serve not less than 15 people who are based abroad in return l get between USD 200 and USD 250 as profit from the online facility then l get an additional USD 200-250 from sales that l make from the locals. On a busy day I can make profits of 40 to 50 USD per day.

“I am very grateful to The Agriculture Business Centre which came up with Entrepreneurship training that has personally helped me to come up with this whole thriving business. Although l am a grade seven dropout l am successfully running my business using the skills learned and mastered during the training and follow up support, l am so grateful” 

Although he started his grocery business with a stock holding of USD 350, his stock holding has risen to more than USD1000.

Principal has so far managed to buy 2 cows and build his own shop and has already started saving money to buy solar.

Transporters are charging exorbitant fares to transport goods from wholesalers that are located 70km away from his shop. Principal says “I want to buy my small truck so that l will cut costs that are going towards the transportation of goods.”

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Principal Ngwenya’s shop that he built using the profits from his shop.

A lot of youths who were trained by ABC have already started doing various entrepreneurship projects that are sustaining themselves and their families

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