The Hottest Businesses to Start in Zimbabwe Now

SME Business Link  February 2011 Contents

Inside SME BusinessLink This Month


3. Publishers Comment

4. Your Letters

5. Guest Comment: Unleashing Greatness! Don’t waste your pain, use it

6. What’s New and Exciting

Starting a Business

7. The Hottest Businesses You Can Start in Zimbabwe Right  Now: And You Don’t Buckets of Cash to Do It!

11.  Your ultimate Guide to Starting a Business in Zimbabwe

Part 1- Choosing The Right Legal Entity

13.   How  to write your own bankable business plan- Part1.

Running  a Business

14.  Meet Empretec Zimbabwe’s Entrepreneur of the Decade

17.  The SME BusinessLink Interview: Meet the  IODZ Entrepreneur of the Year


20. How to Build a Bootstrapping Culture

19. Good Recording Keeping is Essential for all  Businesses

18. Positive Cash Flow Lead to Success

Sales & Marketing

27. How to Close a Sale.

30. The top ten killers of sales

22. Negotiating: How to Negotiate Effectively

24. Five Things to Never Say in a Negotiation

31. The Secret of Sales Success

Leadership & People Management

32. Facing up to the Human Resource Challenges of SMEs

33. Turning Around Negative Attitudes

Publisher’s Comment

It’s Time to Accelerate  Your Growth!

Since the United States dollar (along with other foreign currencies) was officially introduced in Zimbabwe in 2009, the consumption boom that  entrepreneurs expected has not  materialized. A survey among small and medium business owners in Harare recently revealed that consumers have adopted a new frugality, characterized by a preference for lower-priced products, rather than value.

In such a scenario, the high-performance entrepreneur has to build new marketing strategies and tactics, because the old methods will not bring spectacular results in the face of cheap imports from South Africa, China and other low cost producers.

One solution for the entrepreneur is to explore linkage opportunities with larger firms. These firms are  already buying most of their products from foreign firms as well as local big companies. Local SMEs’ products and services are mostly shunned because they are perceived as of poor quality. Events of  the past may have forced some SMEs to cut-corners, hence the bad  image.

Now the way forward is to build a new image of sophisticated, highly efficient and high quality SMEs. There is no need to wait for someone to do that for you, you have to take action yourself. SMEs need  to work towards attaining acceptable standard of workmanship. The Standards Association of  Zimbabwe and the International Standards Organization are there to help you. Of course this needs some investment, in training staff and so on, but that will give you a big competitive advantage against the  ordinary players. The days of business as usual are gone, one has to differentiate his business and product offering in order to grow in the new economy.

The subject of business linkages is very important to the growth of SMEs.  That is why SME Business Link is working on a number of programs that will help bring together SMEs and large firms for the purpose of transacting mutually beneficial business relationships. The first program should be announced in the next month and if you want to seriously grow your business, we advise to you to keep up with us.

This issue of SME BusinessLink, which is on CD, contains useful tips for SMEs, success stories, and lots of business opportunities for entrepreneurs. The next issue is going to carry even more useful stuff and there will be a choice of print or electronic version, or both. Do not miss it. If you are not on our mailing list, please join now so as not to miss a thing as we help entrepreneurs accelerate their growth in 2011.

Join our electronic mailing list

If you own a business or are an entrepreneur or potential entrepreneur who wants to build a high performance business, join our SME Business Newsletter mailing list and keep up with other high-performance entrepreneurs. It’s for free. All you need to do is send an email with the subject line SUBSCRIBE to and you are in.

Starting a Business

SME BusinessLink  February 2011

SME BusinessLink  February 2011

The Hottest Businesses You Can Start in Zimbabwe Right Now!

The Hottest Businesses You Can Start in Zimbabwe Right Now!

And you don’t need bucketfuls of cash to implement these ideas

My name is Mervin and l am an aspiring entrepreneur. I would like to be assisted to come up with small scale business ideas ranging not more than $15,000.00. I am based in Masvingo. Your assistance in this regard shall be greatly appreciated.

These are the kind of letters and emails we receive regularly at SME BusinessLink. In this feature article, we are going to look at the hottest business opportunities in Zimbabwe in 2011. From these, we are sure you will find at least one that you can pursue and develop into a successful business.

One of the things I have learned in dealing with hundreds of successful entrepreneurs is this: true entrepreneurscan succeed in what-ever line of business they venture into. There are three important secrets to success in any venture:

  1. Your product or service must meet a real need among ustomers, that is, it must solve customers’ problems, make life easier, or save them money.
  2. There must be a large enough market of people willing to pay for your product or service to make thebusiness viable.
  3. You have to take care of the basics of business, like planning, marketing, having the right people,managing your cash flow and satisfying customers’ needs.

An entrepreneur who managed to make $2 million in just one year of starting a business recently told an online business journal that his company’s success has depended largely on their marketing efforts, including viral pushes on Twitter and Facebook. If you spot a good business opportunity, plan well and market well, you will most likely succeed. The key is in differentiating your product and service offering, bringing convenience to customers or saving them time or money.

Opportunity No.1: IT Software

Information technology presents a huge business opportunity, especially as the cost of broadband internet, computers and mobile phones has come down significantly in the past few years. The idea is to develop a software application that gives solutions to people. Because it costs almost nothing to reproduce once developed, a really good application will earn you quite a lot if properly marketed. Popular types of software include entertainment (games, music etc) and business packages.

Zimbabwe has thousands of IT graduates, but most firms continue to use imported software like Sage, Pastel, Quickbooks and Bankmaster, paying high user fees.  Tech-savvy entrepreneurs can make a killing in this growing sector, and they don’t have to be limited to the Zimbabwean market, but to Africa and the rest of the world..

Opportunity No.2: Mobile Applications and Games

The latest mobile phones, such as the iPhone, are quickly becoming mainstream in Zimbabwe. This presents a big opportunity for tech-savvy entrepreneurs to create applications and games for these devices. Most Zimbabweans who want to legally download music on the internet cannot do so. Why not solve this problem for them? Below is how one entrepreneur did it, an interview which appeared in INC Magazine.

The successful IT soloist- How Steven Woolley did it

A one hit wonder took this man from living on a modest PhD student stipend to financial security in less than one year. Steve Woolley was gifted a laptop from his parents and an iPod Touch from his in-laws and it changed his life forever.

Q. Steve, when you started your software development company did you have a plan in place, or did you just “wing it?”

A. I had no plan at all, seriously, just an idea, that friends said people would pay for. I’d never even considered selling software and my business consisted of selling a few LP’s on Ebay. I came up with the idea to create a desktop software program that I call ooTunes, and a bit later, the iPhone app. The iPhone app is where I make all the money. It’s not quite a one-hit wonder; I’ve built and worked at mine everyday for 10-12 hours a day for a year now.

Q. Looking back, what are the most important personal qualities or characteristics that are most responsible for your success?

A. I credit my success to 3 things: a) A lot of luck b) persistence

and c) working crazy hard to make sure every customer (and there

is a lot of them) is happy.

Q. Steve, what was the key motivating factor in your drive and

determination to become your own boss?

A. When I first started working in my PhD, I started reading blogs,

essays and anything I could find on “startups”. I was intrigued

mostly by how someone could start with nothing but an idea, and

through hard work, almost magically turn it into something that didn’t even exist beforehand. On one hand I thought it was awesome that someone could go from nothing to fortunes in a few years. On the other hand, I thought it was foolish to view that as the “most common” outcome.

Q. What is the greatest reward in running your own business?

A. Knowing that I’ve created something that thousands of people enjoy. I guess if I’d started a debt collection agency I wouldn’t have the same satisfaction.

Q. Is there anything else you would like to share with our solopreneurs?

A. If you don’t think about your business or ideas constantly, you probably don’t have the right idea. If you’re not willing to give up sleep, food, sex, hobbies, sunlight, etc. you’re probably not going to give what it takes. That being said, you shouldn’t give all those things up indefinitely or it certainly won’t be worth your time! If you can’t

(give those up or stop giving those up) then get a 9-5 job, and spend the rest of the time doing something you enjoy!

Opportunity No.3: IT Repairs and Services

Still on IT, the influx of cheaper computers and IT gadgets means more people have access to them. However,most of the users are not well versed in servicing and repairing the machines. Offering an IT repair service is a good business opportunity. However, to succeed, your business has to offer extraordinary service, such as home service, fast turn-around etc. You should target specific niche markets, such as people over 60 for example, and find the best way of getting your marketing message across to them. You can use cheap methods such as distributing flyers to their homes, clubs etc.  You can also offer training services. (Do you know that the

majority of computer and mobile internet users utilize only a small portion of all the functions available?). As for manpower, there are lots of unemployed IT graduates and students who want attachments.

Opportunity No.4: Personal Beauty Services

These days, working people are strapped of time, but they still need to have personal beauty services done,such as manicures, pedicures, massages, hair styling etc. All you need is the basic equipment and your flyers or business cards informing people that you can offer these services at their homes, offices etc, at their own

convenient times. By targeting your marketing to executives, business owners and other time- strapped professionals, you will quickly build up a solid customer base.

Coming up in the March issue

  • A survey of banks: which is the best bank for SMEs in Zimbabwe?
  • New insurance packages for SMEs launched.
  • Start nominating your choices for the SME and Entreprenuership awards 2011.
  • Interview with one of the fastest moving entrepreneurs.
  • Customers slow to pay? Five ways to pry out the cheque.
  • Business Linkages: How to do business with the big boys. What the CZI says to SMEs.

To read more, get the CD now, which also carries a free e-book, 101 Tips For Your Business in 2011 from leading entrepreneurs and business leaders.

Available at Innov8 Bookshop, 23 G.Silundika Avenue Harare, or you can ger it directly from us at 111 Seke Road, Logan Park, Hatfield Harare for only $3.00 a copy, or add $1.00 and we will deliver to your home or office in Harare, or post it if you are out of Harare. Just call/sms us on 0772 854 301, 0777 774 007, or email

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16 Responses to “The Hottest Businesses to Start in Zimbabwe Now”

  1. munyaradzi makamba Says:

    thanx mdara philip for all u ar doing . finished my a level last year. planning to college ths year but yet to choose which programme was doing commercials .can u give some advice on which program to take .dont want to unemployed after finishin .

  2. chizanga Says:

    hi big Phil i wrote sometime last week on your email, seeking advice on how to start a business. However, to be short and precise i want to venture into sewing and embroudery businness with my wife. i hope your ever busy schedule will afford you an opportunity to reply my email. Lastly i appriciate that you are overwhelmed with a huge response of people whowant to tape solomon,s wisdom. thank you in advance

  3. Miss Nya Says:

    hi Phillip, thank you for this platform, its like a mini market research don e for us. help me phillip, i am a woman who wants to venture into business, starting small as i am to get a loan, so i don;t want to ventur into something that will not chuen profit to repay. i want to start a used clothing business and other paraphenalia but moving with my goods form location to location with my car. is this viable? i also have an idea for a christian bookstore, a different kind not the ones we r used to, am afraid if i apply for a loan for this business i might not be able to pay back coz am not sure what the market is like. also do you help with business proposals for loans/ what kind of template can you create for these two busness ideas? thank you once again

  4. Thank you for the info Mr phillip. I am considering setting up a cellphone retail shop in Harare CBD. I intend to get supplies for good cell phones in China or Dubai but ive never been there. Any advice on the suppliers that zimbabweans are buying from and where they are located?

  5. Edward maradze Says:

    Thanx bla phil 4 this site.i am a man 39yrs.currently unemployed i am a qualified barman 4 23yrs now and also a very good me find a job.thanx

  6. Excellent ideas for sure.At this point in time any Zimbabwean with a passion for success can do so.There are many ideas that young entrepreneurs should come up with.Lets not wait for the so-called ‘right-moment’ and start building our future.Building a successful business mught not be easy and is not for the faint-hearted,but if you have the zeal,you will obviously enjoy the challenges you will encounter along the way,you shall overcome and will contribute to the development of Zimbabwe,you will create employment opportunities.Even if your firm has one employee,it makes all the difference to that one person and over time with dedication and dertemination your business will be where you want it to be.Making money can really be easy if you have a prosperity consciousness.Almost each and everyone has a business idea.The difference is that some will impliment and execute their ideas whilst others will go six-feet under with their business ideas in their heads.Action is the key.It is better to fail your way to the top.It gives you a feeling of fulfilment just to start a business that you call your own,it doesnot matter how small.Some start off by selling freezits or tomatoes.Over time the very same individual will be driving and we say ‘ane Chikwambo’.You might not need a business that employes 5000 people for you to be financially independant.Many sef-made millionares are just individuals like the rest of us who are just doing things right.Almost any IT graduate can execute the ideas above,however the problem is that our education system has a tendancy of producing people with an employee mindset.No wonder why most university graduates end up working for people who never finished high school.Its all in the mindset and our entrepreneurs need the right mindset so that they can go up and higher and thanks for providing such a platform that can really help our Zimbabwean entrepreneurs.

  7. this is amazing,i found this site so helpful , im here in canada and for the longest was looking for business to establish home or people to supply products,
    im looking for people who wants to open there on product line for cosmetics and mens clothing and sporting clothes line as well as linens,,let me know if i can find those people or to do it myself but will need serious pontential buyers whom i can supply can email me.Thanks

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  10. URGENT :I need to start a business in IT(computers eg laptops) in Zimbabwe whereby i buy em in S.Africa n trade em t Zimbabwe .Any idea z welcome
    my email ;

  11. Thembelihle Sibanda Says:

    wow,this is a highly informative website!I pose a question too..I am a 22 year old young lady,currently in my 3rd year towards a Business degree and would want to venture into the cleaning business.I live in a small town overpopulated with small businesses such as bottlestores and mini-marts..would my idea be feasible and viable??

    • Esther Sibanda Says:

      Hi Thembelihle
      My name is Esther Sibanda & am in Sydney.I have a big plan on how to deliver information to aspiring entrepreneurs in Zim.Am planning to start sometime this year & am already working on it.Planning to establish this in Bulawayo ,Hwange & Vic Falls. I guess I can help you with your cleaning business plan,but wil need to do this on a lage scale to suit every aspiring business person in Zim. Best of luck. Esther

  12. Highly informative indid.Ever since i started reading this blog,i have learnt a lot of highly informative and valuable things in as far as business in Zimbabwe is concerned.Iam pretty sure a lot more Zimbabwean business people or wanna-be entrepreneurs are benefiting as well.Keep up the good work sir.

  13. this is a good educative site

  14. Hi philip am seeking advice on hw to start a bussiness. I want to start a bakery and catering company. I live in midlands province

  15. Yvonne Mutimba Says:

    I want to start a small business, but i can start with $40.00 to $50.00. I don’t know what kind of a business i will start with. I need your help please.

    Hope your reply will make my dream go far.

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