When I wanted to tour Mozambique for the first time last year in March, I visited a medical doctor for a yellow fever injection. I had heard that malaria is a big issue in Mozambique and one needed to take precautions. So the doctor asked me why I wanted to visit Mozambique during Easter Holidays? I confidently replied his question and said I wanted to explore business opportunities in Mozambique. I was curious about this country which rarely gets good coverage . The doctor laughed at me and said ‘There is nothing in Mozambique, there is no industry, the citizens are some of the poorest in the world’ He advised me against going to Mozambique as it was a waste of time and resources.
I did not heed his advice though, as someone who had made up his mind, i proceeded with the trip. I wanted to find out how poor Mozambique is and whether there are any opportunities in the so called ‘poverty stricken’ country.
Correcting the Misconception on Mozambique
Let me correct the perception of Mozambique as a poor nation, the correct fact is that Mozambique is not poor at all. They have a lot of resources from minerals, marine, tourism potential, service industry and agriculture. It’s a matter of time before the correct policies and all stakeholders work together for the betterment of living standards of Mozambicans.
Who are the people we found in Mozambique?
When we visited the city of Tete in Mozambique we found different types of citizens in the city or cidade. The first group is made up of local Mozambicans, the second group is made up of Zimbabwean nationals, the third group is made up of foreign nationals from countries such as Portugal, Brazil, Philippines and other European and Asian countries. The last group is made up of adventurous South African investors.
So each and every group has its own needs that need to be met. For instance Zimbabweans working in mines need education for their kids and they prefer English Speaking schools. An opportunity for an investor looking to invest in education. The European and Asian communities have different tastes when it comes to food, clothing, entertainment and other needs.
A person advising you on opportunities in Mozambique is likely to miss out some of the opportunities we found when he or she says Mozambique is poor! The question is who are you targeting? The South African investor building shopping malls in Tete will not agree with you, The South African investor targeting tourists by building chalets on the shores of Indian Ocean will strongly disagree with you.
The same scenario applies to Zimbabwe, someone targeting tobacco farmers will tell you a different story when it comes to investment-a profitable venture! Someone targeting the NGO sector with goods and services may not agree with you when you say there are few opportunities in Zimbabwe. Someone who supplied fertiliser for the Command Agriculture programme will not share the same view of Zimbabwe as a place of few opportunities. ZBIN members on the Mining Forum will not agree with you when you say there are no opportunities in the gold mining sector. Someone with a business that benefits from Diaspora remittances will vehemently deny that business is low in Zimbabwe.
So food for thought to you all, it is good to have a general view or macro view of a country but is advisable to dig deeper and find out opportunities on the ground. It is important to establish who are the people involved in business, who are the people buying goods and services and then tailor make your strategy accordingly.
* Did you see our manual on starting businesses in Mozambique? You can read or download it from this site.
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