More entrepreneurs, less conmen

Taurai Changwa
In an environment where the performance of many private companies continues to be underwhelming, policymakers have suggested that a new breed of entrepreneurs, investing in start-ups, might help to engender a new economy.

Entrepreneurs are frequently thought of as national assets that need to be nurtured, motivated and remunerated to the greatest extent possible.

Some experts argue that entrepreneurs can change the way we live and work. They say, if successful, their innovations may improve our standard of living.Entrepreneurs are frequently thought of as national assets that need to be nurtured, motivated and remunerated to the greatest extent possible.

In addition to creating wealth from entrepreneurial ventures, they also have potential to create jobs and the conditions for a prosperous society.

Though opinion is split among Zimbabweans as to who is the country’s greatest entrepreneur, most people tend to agree that Strive Masiyiwa’s success speaks volumes of his business acumen.

It is not enough to just admire such successful businesspersons, but we need to learn the secrets to their success to set the foundations for our own success.

It is generally agreed that though Zimbabwe might have some of the sharpest and greatest minds in Africa, they unfortunately remain limited by stiff regulations, policies and general negative attitude towards entrepreneurship.

Many potentially successful business ventures are neglected by bureaucrats who are obsessed with foreign investors.

There is need to disabuse people of the notion that foreign investors are the only investors.

While it is a fact that foreign investments can materially impact on the economy, many countries the world over have a bias towards domestic investors.

Both local and central Government in Zimbabwe should be attuned to this fact.

Local investors can be nurtured by targeted policies that improve their operating conditions.

But it is foolhardy to think that everyone and anyone can establish and run a business.

There are some who believe that conceptualising a business and growing it into a success enterprise is an art.

Yes, registering a company is fairly easy but running it is another story altogether.

The sad reality in Zimbabwe today – perhaps because of the lingering effects of the hyperinflation era – is that many companies are now run for quick gains and without any long-term thrust.

Any business, no matter how big or small, needs to be run professionally for it to be lucrative and sustainable. So, normal bookkeeping practices, which duly recognise both the income and expense side of the business, are sacrosanct.

In keeping with this principle, workers need to be paid timeously, so too do creditors.

Put simply, in every business, the costing and cash flows should be critically managed. Failure to balance this critical mix can result in downfall.

Any self-respecting entrepreneur recognises that business profits should always be ploughed back into the business to allow for growth.

Some budding businesspersons think that the ultimate symbol of success is leading cushy poshy lifestyles and driving top-of-the range cars.

Real business leaders create value not only for their companies, but for the economies in which they operate.

The whole attitude of locals who want to venture into businesses has to be re-oriented.

There is no doubt Econet Global will outlive its founder, Strive Masiyiwa: that is the essence of successful businesses.

On the other hand, some companies are fated to collapse after the demise of their founders, and this is not what Zimbabwe needs.

As the country grapples to find its footing, it needs to mature and adapt the correct frame of mind and qualities that are needed to succeed.

But it is easier said than done.

The onus is on Government to ensure it creates a conducive environment for start-ups to thrive.

Every great entrepreneur, from Bill Gates to the late Steve Jobs, made decisions that seemed crazy to the rest of us, but those decisions changed the course of history and the way we live today.

Business is a survival trait, and it seems entrepreneurs are wired to think differently and to see things most people don’t, so they should be encouraged to act on their instincts.

One recipe for success is that people should stay on their lane: Politicians should do politics, sports people should do sports and businesspeople should run                                  businesses – unless you are really multitalented!

The time is now to make a difference.


Taurai Changwa is a member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Zimbabwe and an estate administrator with vast experience in tax, accounting, audit and corporate governance issues. He is a director of Umar & Tach Advisory and writes in his personal capacity. Feedback: [email protected] and WhatsApp +263772374784


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