WHILST there is no official list of Zimbabwe’s richest men and women, such as the one compiled by the Times and Forbes Magazine, the country has its fair share of rich people, including some who are media-shy.
A huge chunk of information in the public domain, pertaining to the country’s wealthiest people, is therefore largely speculative.
Apparently, Zimbabwe’s well-to-do are often evasive when it comes to shedding light on their business operations and how they were set up.
But for this week, we have randomly selected a few individuals that have a traceable business path. This article seeks to outline how the business magnates rose to where they are today.
While the business magnates captured in this article have worked their way up the ladder, a couple of other controversial characters appear to have woken up at the top.
Leading telecommunications mogul, Strive Masiyiwa, was not born rich.
He is now worth over US$2,2 billion, thereby becoming one of the richest people in Africa.
Masiyiwa was born in Zimbabwe but grew up in Kitwe, Zambia. His father was a mine worker then.
He acquired coveted European secondary education in Edinburg, Scotland, before acquiring a degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of Wales.
He worked briefly in the computer industry in England, before returning to Zimbabwe to work for the then Posts and Telecommunications Corporation of Zimbabwe (PTC), now TelOne.
While still employed by PTC, he set up his Retrofit Engineering in 1987.
During that time, Zimbabwe was going through a construction boom phase.
When he resigned from PTC, Masiyiwa focused on electrical contracting.
In 1994, he resolved to start a mobile telecommunications company.
Masiyiwa approached a local bank with the business proposal and he got some funding.
His former employer, PTC, turned down his proposal for a joint venture in the mobile operations. At that time, PTC was enjoying a monopoly in the telecommunications industry.
Masiyiwa challenged PTC’s domination in the courts.
He was awarded a mobile telecoms license in 1998 after a legal battle of close to five years.
He set up Econet Wireless Zimbabwe, which is under the Econet Group, headquartered in Johannesburg, South Africa, and registered in Mauritius.
Econet Group now owns various telecommunications and renewable energy companies across the globe.
TA Holdings’ Shingai Mutasa also has another interesting tale of triumph.
He is the brains behind the country’s tallest shopping mall, Joina City Centre, which is situated in the capital Harare.
He came up with the idea of the structure following his wide-ranging conversation with a renowned architect, the late Vernon Mwamuka
“Joina City was not driven by money, but a vision and passion for the country,” the publicity shy tycoon was once quoted saying.
Mutasa started off as an ordinary trader.
After acquiring a degree in Economics in London, Mutasa returned to an independent Zimbabwe to venture into commodity marketing.
He traded under a family business.
In 1992, he founded Venture Finance.
He eventually took over TA Holdings in 1997.
Mutasa’s Zimbabwe Stock exchange-listed TA Holdings boast of floating entities, among them Sable Chemicals, Zimnat Insurance, Cresta Hospitality, Utande, and Masawara PLC.
Another fascinating tale is that of businessmen and philanthropist Philip Mataranyika.
Mataranyika is cognisant of the adage “valar morghulis”, meaning all men must die.
He tapped into a venture that will never run out of customers.
But what was he doing before starting the thriving Nyaradzo Group?
In 1986, Mataranyika joined Old Mutual as a benefits administrator.
He later became a financial advisor at the same company. He excelled in that role but later left Old Mutual after having served them for 15 years. Matarinyika then co-founded Nyaradzo Insurance in 2001 with two other partners.
Since then, his company has evolved to Nyaradzo Group, which encompasses Nyaradzo Funeral Assurance Company, Nyaradzo Funeral Services, Sahwira Events, Calundike Exports, and Eureka Insurance Brokers.
He is a graduate of the Institute of Marketing Management in South Africa and holds a Master of Science Degree in Strategic Management from Chinhoyi University of Technology.
Mataranyika has an estimated net worth of US$160 million.
The shrewd businessman has interests in Croco Motors, Duly Holdings, Premier Auto Services, and Kia Legacy.
Chingwena once served as the chief operating officer of Orion Insurance Company and later joined Century Group in 1997.
He also worked as general manager operations with the Leasing Company of Zimbabwe.
At CFX bank, he served as a non-executive director and later became the group chief operating officer.
After parting ways with CFX bank, Chingwena started Croco Motors in partnership with his wife and cousin Farai Matsika.
Within a year of starting operations, Croco Motors acquired the Mazda dealership.
lt is believed that Chingwena has shares in a number of other companies listed on the ZSE.
This firebrand woman, who owns a security company — Securico — collects annual revenue running into millions of dollars.
She rose from humble beginnings to attain two degrees, both of which have earned her a name in business and gender equality platforms.
A farmer and an accounting officer by profession, Ndhlukula once worked for a broadcasting company, a financial service company, and a local insurance company.
Whilst working there, she was running a transport business.
At one time, she rescued her father, whose farm had been seized because of failure to pay loans. She sold her trucks to pay off the debts.
She then started working on the farm, investing in a maize project that unfortunately went wrong because of a dry spell.
Ndhlukula then started her security company in a backyard cottage of her Harare home, with only four employees.
The company evolved to become the first Zimbabwean security company. lt is ISO certified.
The iron lady sits on more than 40 boards. She is now chief executive officer of DDNS Security Operations, the holding company for Securico Security Services, Canine Dog Service and Multi-Link.
Outside the church, religious leader and founder of United Family International Church (UFIC), Prophet Emmanuel Makandiwa is a savvy businessman.
He grew up in rural Muzarabani, Mashonaland Central, and acquired his education in Chitungwiza, before becoming an Apostolic Faith Mission pastor.
While ministering, Prophet Makandiwa has tried his hand in a number of business ventures, resulting in him owning Havilah Gold, Radar Holdings as well as Sterkinekor’s Zimbabwe and Zambia. While Prophet Makandiwa’s net worth has not been publicly declared, it is believed to run into millions of United States dollars.
Flamboyant businessman Philip ‘‘Uncle Phil’’ Chiyangwa has made waves before and might not necessarily be among the country’s richest people.
However, his story is inspiring.
His meteoric rise from a barefoot and spikey-haired vegetable vendor in the dusty streets of Chegutu to a property developer and politician cannot be ignored.
Uncle Phil is the owner of Pinnacle Holdings and Tsivo Holdings. His ventures are estimated to have a net worth of over US$270 million.
The list goes on
Zed Kuodounaris, the co-founder of Innscor Africa Limited, has shares in companies like Padenga, Colcom, Axia Holdings, Simbisa Brands and National Foods.
In the same league is mining and transport tycoon, Billy Conrad Rautenbach, the Sam Levy family, and Meikles Africa Ltd chairperson John Moxon, among others.