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Diaspora Matters

Diaspora Matters

Relocating Musina to Harare

musina

Prices have once more gone up in local currency. Many private schools are fighting with parents over dollarisation. Some schools which used to get between US$1500 and $4.000 per child a few years back now want the USD equivalent of those previous amounts!

In an inflationary environment everything keeps going in one direction…UP!

With no significant forex inflows, we can expect no change in the pricing systems. Everyone is charging in forex or forex equivalent.

So its a battle the government is not going to win in the short to medium term….the business sector chasing the rate and the rate running away. The government on the other side trying its best but without massive forex injection, its a tough battle.

Stop Gap Measure
Most of the goods you are finding in shops are imports anyway…even the oranges going for RTGS 75 per pack are all imports, we have few orange farms around. When we were in Malawi, we witnessed cross borders buying agricultural produce for sale at Mbare Musika.

Beitbridge receives more than 40 buses everyday and they leave loaded with imported goods. Musina has become one big warehouse for Zim goods….20 years ago the town resembled a growth point but now its a fully grown town and if Zim keeps sourcing its goods from there-it will soon become a major city.

So we have discussed this solution before…and we come back again. Some of the prices we have especially in Harare are unreasonable…yes we are dollarising but the profit margins even go as far as 100%…it makes no sense at all.

So our solution is transfer Musina into Harare, Bulawayo, Mutare or Gweru..

Create special zones whereby foreigners set up their businesses-they sell in forex at low prices and on exit, customers pay duty like they do at borders.

In SA prices are more or less uniform even when goods are transported by road from Joburg to Capetown. The Game Store in Zambia has prices similar to SA despite the goods passing through Zim.

The distance between Joburg and Cape town is similar to Joburg to Harare.

Local industry protection
We should ramp up local production, protect our own industries for job creation and economic development…however they too are not immune to forex shortages and the economic environment, their cost of production is going up everyday and making their products noncompetitive.

So in the short run, bring the SA manufacturers and they will take the offer with both hands…more revenue growth. They are doing it anyway through Musina and Joburg.

They will sell products at a fraction of what we are witnessing around town. They will enjoy economies of scale through importing in bulk( without paying duty)…remember the duty is paid by customers when they exit the established EPZ premises.

Who will cry the loudest?
Cross border traders,
Local manufacturers and retailers,
Buses that ferry cross borders,

Who will smile the widest?
Consumers enjoying a wide variety of goods at low prices,
ZIMRA as there will be less smuggling,
Employees employed at such facilities,
SA companies seeing opportunities,

This can be a great entry route of foreign investment as innovative local companies can partner with South Africans. More foreign companies can be excited by the opportunities and set up here. As long as they can bring products, sell in forex and able to remit it….they will flock to the new opportunities.

Of course there will be an uproar from the local business community who stand to lose out as customers will even be able to buy and resell at cheaper prices than most local shops. They will have to innovate and adapt or die….

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Diaspora Matters

Bogus geologist on the prowl

fake

A lot of people are venturing into gold mining for the first time and our group has a well knit community of miners. We have over 8.000 members on our whatsapp platforms in various groups such as mining, poultry, real estate, agriculture, education, dog breeding, cross border opportunities, paw paw growing, education, contruction, digital marketing and more.

The free flow of information makes our platform rich in terms of information and opportunities. Few opportunities emerge  from Zim without our members discussing about them first. From our mining group we have various people who have lost various amounts of money ranging from US$600-$800 by engaging a bogus geologist for mine surveys.

The gentleman has survey equipment and actually visits your mine with a team of ‘experts’who will do surveys with equipment but after leaving no meaningful report ever comes your way. Those who press him for reports either get fake reports or he can be rude to you.

As a result, we have advised our members to make a police report and take the bogus geologist to court. Have you also been scammed? Kindly get in touch with our forum and you can discuss with other miners who lost funds.

For future engagement of geologists do take the following steps;

Ask for a consultant’s cv and references.

Go to the underground and check with at least 4 references. Be careful of fake references though.

Ask from our group whether a consultant is genuine or not and hundreds of our members will assist.

If you are in the diaspora, we urge you not to put monies in the mining sector unless you are on the ground!

Scammers are no longer those who ask for money upfront in dubious investment deals. They are now sophisticated with some coming as service providers! Do check the latest post on how poultry farmers are losing chickens to voice cloning scammers. We have covered this on our Facebook Page.

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Diaspora Matters

Of Student Interns Sexual Harassment and Risk Management

student

What are the top 10 local firms which take student interns and expose them to sexual harassment? Is your company safe and not listed?

Welcome to the world of reputational risk management. One day such a list will leak and cause all sorts of commotion in the business sector. One day books will be published detailing sexual harassment at work places and it will cause serious reputational damage to many high profile business personalities.

The student internship programme was first launched in the country in the 90s and has been successful in bridging the formal employment skills gap. Thousands of students from all colleges have been successfully placed and acquiring work critical skills before graduation. A good number performed well during internship and managed to secure jobs before graduation.

However there is a dark side to this initiative….sexual harassment of students! This goes unreported as the students fear victimisation; the colleges do not help either as they want to forge strong partnerships with the private sector. They would rather keep these issues hidden away.

A good number of students are suffering quietly; some managers are also exerting or coercing students to enter into sexual relationships in return for increased stipends or favours. The internet especially social media is however empowering students to speak up. What most companies and universities are sweeping under the carpet will however find a convenient gate way…social media!

Social media is an empowerment tool that enables everything hidden to come out in the open. So how safe is your company, NGO or informal business from the next sexual harassment exposure? Are you aware of the sexual harassment tag that will follow your organisation and the financial and social repercussions?

Universities

They need strong student intern policies and they should include whistle blowing facilities. A student should not just be placed for attachment without going through an induction of the expectations of the work place, problems to be encountered and sexual harassment. Colleges are just sending students away for internship without proper induction. They could be safe for now but a time is going to come when past and current students raise these issues-the reputation of the college will be at stake.

Colleges also need to brainstorm and come up with mechanisms for students who fail to find attachment places. The failure to land attachment places is leading to many ending up in the wrong hands. Colleges need to find innovative ways of still giving students industrial attachment experience and some of it can be short term research projects with NGOs and companies. Some colleges can even invite the informal sector for assistance. For instance establishing university owned companies and encouraging the informal sector to bring their financial records with students preparing financial accounts for a nominal fee.

Companies

We would like to acknowledge the importance industry plays in providing employment and skills training facilities. The nation has benefited immensely from the university, private and public sector partnerships. Our nation is much richer with a skilled workforce. However be wary of intern’s sexual harassment. It can lead to reputational damage of companies when these issues are brought to the public domain. The internet is making it easier to expose such cases and you have no control over who leaks what.

Therefore before accepting students for internship, take cognisance of the risks you are carrying should any of your staff members be involved in sexual harassment.

Strengthen your human resources policies and adequately cover sexual harassment including student interns. Conduct regular trainings and awareness for all staff including student interns. At the end of attachment, conduct exit interviews and find out whether any sexual harassment took place and take remedial action.

For risk managers, your major risks are no longer coming from transactional activities…reputational risks are taking centre stage. What is it that can damage your reputation? Review your risk strategies and risk registers. Ask yourselves what if your boss is published on front pages of newspapers with student intern sexual harassment issues? What if one of your managers has a sex tap leak?

This calls for strong ethical behaviour and organisations should invest heavily in ethics trainings and awareness. If you are involved in an illicit sexual affair with students, you are destroying their lives and also the reputation of the company. It’s a matter of when before former students start openly talking about this practice, naming and shaming those involved and opening a can of worms that will send the value of many balance sheets tumbling down!

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Diaspora Matters

Driving force behind the demand for Zimbo products

mazoe

Nigeria has an estimated population of 200m, compare and contrast with Zim with 15m. We are very small…tiny! Imagine the levels of competition for resources? What would happen if we increase the population of Harare six fold? So brothers realising the intensity of competition and lack of opportunities decided to explore opportunities beyond their borders. Experience and exposure to strong competition gave them an added advantage and they realised they needed to work together just like the first ships that landed in Africa. The first ship was not owned by an individual….there were many people behind it.

So the journey began of traversing the length and breadth of the continent. Their area of specialisation is auto parts and they are everywhere even in Maputo they have learnt the Portuguese…Uganda, Botswana, Namibia, Malawi, Kenya…wherever there are cars, our brothers are there. In SA the auto parts is controlled by locals but still that has not stopped them from benefiting.

The movement of our Naija brothers and sisters helped to spread their culture and started with African movies, then their food, their clothing and now every radio station plays Naija music!

Key Nigerian Skill:

Most of the new products in Africa are introduced in 3 regions. West Africa (Nigeria), East Africa (Kenya) and SADC (South Africa). Most South Africans especially blacks are content with what exist in their country, so no incentive to expand beyond their borders….only white brothers expand through retail shops such as Pep, Shoprite and others. They also expand in the services sector such as telecoms, banking and entertainment (DSTV). They don’t expand beyond the borders with smaller stuff. This is in contrast with the Nigerians….they notice second hand car imports flooding their country and their region and they will smile and say ‘Oga we are rich’ They know the trend will slowly reach down to SADC and they will move in before we open our eyes! By the time locals open their eyes, Oga has moved to the next country!

Kenyans do not move like Nigerians, they are not as sophisticated after all half of their population of 50m can fit into Lagos alone which has a population of 21m.

So competition skills give Nigerians a competitive advantage.

Zimbo products:

Faced with economic challenges at home, Zimbos are also trekking out of the country in search of opportunities. Over 3m are exiled in South Africa…thousands found in Malawi, Zambia, Mozambique, Botswana and Namibia. The major disadvantage we have no new products or services introduced in Zim first before any other country on the continent. Our market is tiny when compared to African giants. All Zimbabweans (including diasporans) can perfectly fit into Lagos and we will leave more space! Because of our size, we are not grabbing new opportunities and running away with them to neighbouring countries and across the continent.

There is no new technological trend on the continent that Zimbabweans can sell to other countries, we simply absorb what has been tried and tested elsewhere. However the mass emigration has brought something interesting….demand for Zim products by Zimbabweans.

In Chimoio, Zim products such as mazoe drinks, cerelac, maputi, scud beer, jam and bread are in high demand. The same applies to Malawi, Zambia, Botswana and South Africa. Our diaspora community has created a second Zimbabwe with a huge demand for local products.

If you are setting up a business or have an existing one and you ignore the second Zimbabwe then go back again to your strategy for review. The 3m Zimbabweans estimated to be in South Africa is not stagnant…it is fast expanding as people marry and have children. In future it may even expand to 5m or 10m. Strong ties with their home country means more demand for Zim products.

The absence of Zim vegetables in South Africa such as tsunga and muboora has led some to grow these vegetables in Durban for sale to Zimbos. In Capetown a Zimbo has a successful poultry project rearing road runners. In Joburg Zimbos have started making maputi and supplying them to tuckshops or plazas. Our music scene has not been left out with various artists holding sold out shows in neighbouring countries and overseas.

So follow the movement of Zimbabweans and the influence they are having abroad for business success. Follow too business models other nationals from populous nations are adopting. We are not producing or initiating new technologies…we largely adopt what has been introduced elsewhere. Be the first to follow what’s new in Nigeria, Kenya and South Africa…it will eventually land in our country. Keep monitoring closely technological trends introduction into Africa and their success; they will eventually land this side of the equator.

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Diaspora Matters

Driving Forces in AI Adoption in Africa

Augmented Reality

So for some the Augmented Intelligence its still sci-fi stuff probably landing on our shores in a decade or so. But to some us, the interest comes from the amount on billions being invested by major companies in the west. Why invest billions of dollars in non value addition activities?

Non value addition? Think again…there is plenty of value in this technology. The value is in reducing costs, making quick decisions in responding to changes in the environment and thus enhancing profitability. The bottom line is profitability…this is what drives capitalism…maximise, maximise wealth for shareholders.

So its dog eat dog in the corporate sector in the rush to implement cutting edge technologies and robots are coming in handy.

They practically work non stop unlike humans.

They process huge amounts of data quickly.

They are in most cases error free.

Imagine a robot working on a farm….non stop work, accurate..your productivity improves by more than 90%. The robots keep working irrespective of the weather conditions, they don’t go for lunch, they don’t sleep, they don’t complain about bad bosses…literally chikwambo chisina ropa lol

Customer Service and AI: Way back western companies used to employ receptionist who would answer phones, receive clients etc. Someone came up with an idea of transferring that role to call centres dotted across the globe…the model was very cheap…costs cuts, profitability increased! Then someone said hold on, we can get robots to do the work and save on costs. So call centres are on their way out.

Production: For most American manufacturing companies, they realised that China provided cheap labour. Instead of manufacturing products, they transferred their manufacturing plants to the East and this helped in lowering costs and improving profitability. However for geopolitical reasons, China has leapfrogged many developed countries and is poised to be number 1 in a few decades to come. This has ruffled many feathers and there is a reversal trend underway. Manufacture at home and use technology instead!

With disruptive forces at its peak the game is you snooze you lose. You have downtime and the opportunity cost is high. Machines work non stop unless there is a breakdown…they are replacing human beings in most manual and repetitive tasks. Take for instance auditing where a team of auditors can do manual voucher checks by sampling, manual trend analysis and checks.

Robots don’t need to sample…they do 100% sampling, provide analysis and produce audit reports better than human beings. So for audit companies interested in driving down costs and yet producing better results-robots come in handy!

Have you seen lawyers with heaps of books for reference on court cases? Reading manual books is a waste of time, robots can do that and produce accurate reports in record time.

Have you seen many shop attendants who want salaries, stock taking staff who need to be paid. Shops which close during certain times? In the digital age, no shop should be closed…we now have unmanned shops in USA. You go to the shop, you enter the shop and the shop has no attendants. You select products you want, take them to the till which is not manned….swipe and check out!

In Australia there is a big mine which is not manned. Robots do the mining, self driven trucks transport minerals to railway wagons and everything that takes place being monitored thousands of kilometres away. No humans at these busy mines where tens of cars are always in motion nonstop.

If you have been following the war in Iraq, Afghanistan and other countries, then you should have seen fighter drones joining the battle front dropping bombs on identified targets.

What does the future hold?

Traditional manual processing tasks are on their way out. If its repetitive and its manual, consider it out. A teacher giving student notes? A book keeper? A receptionist? A driver? A mechanic? Everything that need our hands use is on its way out. Instead we are going to rely more on our creativity skills. A robot will produce financial statements but cannot use them for decision making. A computerised mine produces mineral output but cannot seek markets.

So we need to stay ahead of the game by appreciating AI and the skills that will be key in the AI era…managing technology to assist in decision making. Making faster, well researched decision making in order to tap into existing and emerging opportunities before competitors do. The driving force is profitability.

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Diaspora Matters

SHOULD TOBACCO FARMERS BOYCOTT SELLING TOBACCO?

fodya

The Tobacco selling season started on the 20th of March with a lot of high expectations. However, this was not to be as there has been a lot of grumbling and gnashing of teeth when it comes to the pricing. The auction floors namely TSF,Boka and Premier tobacco are usually a hive of activity this time of the year but this year it’s a different story. The average selling price has ranged between 1.20 – 1.70 Dollars, perhaps I need to specify here that the prices are in United States Dollars and not ZWL at the time of selling. The other day whilst I was at TSF auction floor I got to talk to a farmer Mr Kainama from Karoi who was fuming with anger as 5 of his 7 bales had been rejected. The ones that had been bought had been bought at 0.20 and 1.98 USD each. After listening to the farmer narrating his story, I was then prompted to write this article with the hope that other farmers could benefit as well.

Let me first start by mentioning that opinions expressed here are my individual opinions and should not be misconstrued as otherwise. After having a lengthy chat with Mr Kainama, I then found out that the tobacco he had brought was from last year. The farmer had decided to hold on to his tobacco at the end o the 2018 selling season as he felt that the prices were too low. It is an open secret that most merchants towards the end of the season would have met their required kilograms of tobacco hence demand will be low, so the prices take a nose dive too. Anyway, back to our farmer. Mr Kainama went on to explain that he put his tobacco into storage until this current selling season. He also realised that some insects had invaded his tobacco whilst in storage and he had tried to sun dry as pick the insects. It is very important to know that the guys buying tobacco at the auction floors are adequately trained and have a very good eye for such irregularities. This was an automatic reason for the rejection of this farmers bales.

Most farmers are encouraging each other to hold back their tobacco from the auction floors with the hope that the current prices will change. Naturally as the season progresses the prices are set to improve slightly as more buyers come forth. This has been the trend in previous seasons, but we don’t know how this season is going to be like.

Most farmers especially communal farmers do not consider the risks associated with long term storage of tobacco. Firstly, it is important to note that long term storage of tobacco requires a permit from TIMB. Secondly and most importantly before you consider storing your tobacco for extended periods which is not advised you need to invest in pest control. The tobacco beetle and tobacco moth the most devasting pests in tobacco storage can destroy your tobacco significantly. It is important to also note that once these pests are found in your tobacco at the auction floor TIMB is notified immediately. TIMB may go to the extent of blocking your growers’ number effectively banning the farmer from selling. The farmer will then be required to get a certifying letter from a registered fumigating agent that indeed they have fumigated which is costly. Mould is another huge risk, it will occur when tobacco is stored for extended periods in conditions with 15 % humidity and above.

It is quite important for the farmer to take into consideration all these points and take the necessary precautions. However, for 90% of the farmers who can not afford proper storage facilities which have been fumigated, which also have pest traps etc it may be better to send your tobacco to auction. I know some are probably reading this and are saying “Hatidi kunohodesa fodya”, loosely translated to we don’t want to go and give away our tobacco. However, It is important to look at this issue from a business perspective, in my opinion you stand to loose more by keeping your tobacco in storage especially if you know that you don’t have proper storage facilities.as the loses may be 100%. Consider this before you decide to hold back your tobacco think of the possible consequences. Lastly farmers are urged to avoid doing business nemaGweja, (middleman), good tobacco sells yega. Food for thought.

Emmanuel D.N Dube  (ZIBN Agriculture correspondent)

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Diaspora Matters

Awesome Business Opportunities in DRC

bhu

Strive Masiyiwa once said by the time you see a horse cart then its too late…

Is it too late to talk about business opportunities in DRC? Not really because we have covered them before. Our 2018 book captured opportunities in DRC after an interview we did with one of our forum members based in the country.

DRC is one of the richest countries on the continent which is blessed with a lot of mineral riches but sadly its citizens are some of the poorest on the continent. So what are some of the opportunities that oear 2002ne can find in this former Belgian colony?

Absence of manufacturing companies

Kinshasa has a total population of 11 million out of the total country population of 88 million. There are no major manufacturing companies in the capital which mean the 11 million population is one big supermarket!

There is no meaningful farming activity in the country either despite vast tracts of land and all year rainfall due to its close proximity to the equator.

So the city has to import products such as;

Rice

Cooking oil

Sugar

Sea food

Clothes

Frozen chicken

Last year our government arranged a tour for cross borders to the Central African region and the cross borders managed to grab opportunities in supplying products such as sugar, cooking oil and rice. Of course the export of sugar to DRC did not start in 2018, it started around 2002 where enterprising Zimbabweans were hiring trucks and supplying tonnes of sugar with some coming back with receipts of up to $10.000 per trip! The demand for Zim supplies is not going down anytime soon as no new manufacturing industries are being set up in Kinshasa. They import everything they consume.

The poor road network in the country makes matters worse as it is faster to travel 4.000 kilometres from Durban to Kinshasa than it is to ravel 3.000 kilometres from Kinshasa to Tanzania. This gives Zambians and Zimbabweans an opportunity to tap into the 88m.

Thinking of tapping into DRC opportunities? Not a bad idea but go for French lessons first and then go on an exploratory visit and find out how other Zimbos are doing it. Some are employed as engineers, some involved in mineral trading and the majority involved in cross border trading. Some no longer have to source goods from Zimbabwe but from Zambia and straight to DRC.

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Diaspora Matters

SEO Simplified

shopu

If given an opportunity to rent a shop, where would you choose between a shop in high street with great traffic and one in downtown where there is low traffic? Its an open secret everyone goes for high traffic in high street. After all in business its about maximising profits!

How about the internet, how do you choose where to place your website? Dear forum member, welcome to SEO or Search Engine Optimisation. The concept is similar to the shop location we gave you above. Its about maximising traffic with the hope of more revenues.

The content you create on your site helps to rank you highly on Google and other search engines searches. Whenever we search for anything on Google, the 7 seconds rule says we spend our time on the first page….few people go to page 2 and others. So your aim whenever you create content or set up your website; is to be number 1-the high street.

Now search engines have millions of pages, so how do you place your content on the first page? It’s a combination of skill, experience and in some cases pure luck. You need to go through training and then keep trying till you consistently produce content that comes top of the ranks.

Take a look at the following content from this site that comes top on search engines;

Direct Bus Transport from Harare to Beira

 

How to successfully run a tuckshop part

 

Diploma in Kombi Management

Mirasapo

Business opportunities in Malawi

We have tens of other posts that ranks us amongst the best on search engines and this is responsible for driving some of the traffic to our site from across the globe.

So when setting your website make sure that your trainer covers SEO and you get hands on in trying to be number 1 when people search on the net.

The direct bus transport from Harare to Beira has unfortunately resulted in hundreds of inquiries from tourists from across phoning our offices thinking that we run a bus service between Harare and Beira!

Do more research on this exciting topic which helps propel your website and brand to the top and resulting in more traffic and revenue.

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Diaspora Matters

Digital Marketing and TV impact

mkty

When you post your adverts on social media think of a television. People do not buy television to watch adverts….adverts are a distraction! We buy televisions mostly for entertainment…they were designed for entertainment and later on they added news, education and other stuff but the first TV was designed for entertainment purposes.

So if you are to distract people with adverts, then make them short and entertaining (attractive). The rule on television is adverts are flighted for a few seconds because the attention span of most  people especially on distractions is 7 seconds. If you don’t provide all the information in 7 seconds then you have failed!

Social media was designed as an entertainment platform…basically a global television station. Few agree that when they first joined Facebook they had business in mind. A look at the most popular groups on FB shows that they cover entertainment and those covering other issues come last

Imagine your television having a  3 hour news bulletin….by the end of 3 hours, no one will be watching…but how about soccer or a musical show? Millions will be glued especially when it’s a big game.

Adverts are like those guys who give pamphlets at the traffic intersections…a distraction. Few look forward to their distractions unless they come up with some freebies.

The 7 seconds rule
Design a digital flier with attractive photos and containing relevant contact information.
Funds permitting design a digital advert with a short video with a maximum 7 seconds.
Make your digital advert interesting and above all relevant.

More social science on digital marketing

Human beings have always loved stories and back in the days…families would sit surrounding a bonfire and talk about experiences. Ngano…nyaya..kutamba..kukurukura etc. This is in our DNA and helped to shape the development of mass media which at first were newspapers.

Newspapers unfortunately did not have voices….radios came to plug the gap…but they lacked visuals…then the telly was designed to complete what people have always wanted…sitting around a bonfire and discussing experiences.


So psychologically we have moved from the newspaper era…the radio era and now are on the television era. 


Is your advert in words? Then you are in the newspaper era…you are 100 years behind unless you use content marketing (we have covered this before).

Is your advert including images? Then you are a decade behind.
2) Is your advert including videos? Congrats, welcome to the future!
3) Review your adverts and consider the above points…they make a difference. About 99.9% of adverts we witness on our forums are a century behind.

Do not miss our book on Digital Marketing which cover digital trends, local digital marketing case studies, our own digital marketing experiences and successes.

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