By Munyaradzi Hwengwere
Knowledge still drives the world, while ‘Ginimbi’s wealth accumulation appears pretty opaque, a more helpful approach would be to break down the entrepreneurial skills he possessed. The educational system must then package these to teach many enthusiastic young people who want to blindly follow his footsteps. Not doing so quickly may see many crash in their vain attempt at instant riches.
All indications are that he had certain traits that suggests that he was an entrepreneur. This is what we must study. Discard, what we don’t understand and keep what will drive this nation forward.
Ginimbi was skilled at network management. The friends at his parties and even the ones that came to his funeral attest to the fact that he was good at building a resource of people around himself. One of his friends says it from such networks that he managed many of his feats, including attracting capital; getting markets and most likely sweat talking some customs officials along the way.
If marketing is a critical resource to sell your services and products to the world, Genius found an ingenious if not controversial way to promote his business in ways that even gave him free advertising space online and in the mainstream media. The so-called white parties were platforms to self-promote and build a strong brand of himself. He would not have been a fool to do them for no reason. There are stories that huge amounts of money were spent organizing them. If there was no direct material benefit, at the very least his name was elevated in one form or another. There was method to the apparent madness.
To rise from a life on the fringes to do the things Ginimbi did, requires one to have a character that stands out from the rest. Genius was an outlier. He defied common conventions. Phillip Mataranyika, the founder of Nyaradzo Group compares Ginimbi to the ‘Apple brigade’ and many Silicon Valley entrepreneurs who have built the likes of Facebook, Uber etc. Make no mistake many of these men have not been perfect. Some even landed in prison. What is material is that they were driven to defy norms and become themselves in ways that captured societal imagination. This is not praise specific antics or even to claim to know how they got rich but rather to acknowledge their entrepreneurial spirit. Where and how such gift was used or abused is a matter for another day.
What is also important is to encourage society to identify such entrepreneurial traits and seek to nature the carriers so they do not depart from this world in untimely fashion or use such gifts to engage in activities that harm society. More importantly like Silicon Valley in the USA which has built strong mentorship programmes to guide and nature the main innovators in that part of the country, Zimbabwe must build strong support networks to identify and mentor many brilliant young people across the country. We need as a country to build an understanding that there is a method to wealth creation.
Our schools, universities and vocational training centres must invest in teaching such method to ensure Zimbabwe become the next global power house. Ginimbi’s friends say his wish was for his legacy to live long after him. That legacy must be built on building a developmental minded group of entrepreneurs. Leaving the situation as it is will only help in solidifying the view that either wealth is stolen or secured through juju.
We also need a country that imposes rules, on both the rulers and the ruled including business. The challenge for Ginimbi and many others in his positions is that unlike in most developed markets, there is no obligation in this country to declare your source of wealth. The taxman literally struggles to link what one has with how they accumulate such wealth. Even President Emmerson Mnangagwa spoke about this, when he wondered how some poor vendor would have over ZWL80 million in their bank account. The shadow network of wealth in Zimbabwe is proving to be the problem and has resulted in speculation as to how people are getting rich.
For Government, it must be patently obvious that allowing economies to collapse the way ours has, is a security risk. Not only do you risk, young entrepreneurs dodging the tax systems and creating smuggling rings, you sow seeds for low levels of productivity. Why bother build a long term business or venture into hard fields such as mining and agriculture when all one needs to make money is figure out a way to make instant money. A recent BBC interview with the Managing Director of World Economic Forum noted that without building new skills and revamping the educational system, there is no chance that a number of Africa’s youth will ever meaningfully move from poverty. After all today’s new currency is skills.
Yet in Zimbabwe today It has become fashionable for a small group of wheelers and dealers who have made it to proclaim that “while they were not been good in class, it has not stopped them from success. Sadly, because we are a country that does not value its formal entrepreneurs, not many are willing to publicly share their stories of success.
The companies that ventured into starting innovation hubs are so secretive to the extent that if you are not part of the network chances are low, a bright mind from say Highfield has any chance of being recruited there. Even our own Government which has started an impressive programme for identifying smart minds, does not bother to publicise such activities.