The Sunday News
Lackson Munkombwe, Features Reporter
A DREAM doesn’t become reality through magic; it takes sweat, determination and hard work to bring it to fruition and such has been the life of Mike Mwinde whose story can aptly be described as one of success born out of keeping his mind on his vision.
He has managed with so much determination to nurture his dream and live up to his billing of becoming a transport service provider despite enduring the toughest times to his quest.
Starting off as a vegetable vendor with many others, Mwinde saw an opportunity that he jumped on to after realising that vendors were facing problems transporting their orders from the marketplace while individuals were also facing the same with their assortment of luggage. He got into the pushcart (also known as scanias) manufacturing business and now is a proud owner of a taxi with the hope of expanding his fleet both of pushcarts and taxis at his company named Twalumba.
He started his business at a time when thousands of Zimbabweans flocked out of the country in the wake of the deteriorating economy in the country, while hundreds others retired to their rural homes after seeing their jobs vanish into the thick void as many companies closed shop while others scaled down operations.
He however, remained resolute and stayed put while executing his vending duties that he had known since he got into town.
Mwinde said his motivation was a dream he had embraced since his childhood, of becoming a competitive transport provider within the country and even beyond the borders if all things shaped up well.
However, his poor background haunted his progress. The odds seemed to be fighting him. His background was oppressing his dream.
Having grown up in rural Binga where he did not manage to complete his Ordinary Level after his parents failed to pay school fees when he was in form three, Mwinde dropped out of school and went back to stay at home like many of his friends he grew up with. He said he was hopeless, without any means to carry out his daily routines until he moved to Bulawayo sometime in the late 90s.
“Life is a race against your ambitions which do not always come at the right time,” said Mwinde.
“I toiled long enough and I almost went back to my rural home after seeing the difficulties of living in urban areas. However, something kept telling me to be content with what I have and continue exploiting what was available for me. You know those instincts. I persevered until one day I decided I could take advantage of the growing vending activities happening in the city.”
The issue of unemployment has driven more people into vending where a lot of them are into selling vegetables. With an eagle’s eye, Mwinde spotted an opportunity to sell pushcarts but his decision was of getting them hired on each single day.
“When so many people lost their jobs, they resorted to selling vegetables around town. Vending became the in thing in Bulawayo,” said Mwinde.
“I realised that I could not do the same as well but I then started making pushcarts which I would sell but I also wanted to make them for hiring since I could manage them from one position.”
Mwinde said he eventually had over 100 pushcarts he rented to other people in the city.
“At the moment I have in excess of 100 pushcarts. They are available for a dollar a day,” said Mwinde.
He said he would rent up to 50 wagons per day before counting on individuals who would hire to get their luggage from one point to another in the city.
“A lot of people were mocking me as they thought I was wasting money and resources when I started making pushcarts,” said Mwinde.
“I should tell you that no one has the guts to tell you to stop what you see as important when they themselves cannot do that particular project. I continued making pushcarts which I sold to so many people while at the same time I would transport individuals’ luggage. The road was rough but the vision remained. At one point I realised that I began to attract many people who wanted to do business on a daily basis but they didn’t have pushcarts. I rented them for a dollar a day.”
Mwinde said his company, Twalumba has now entered a new phase of growth after he bought his first car which would be deployed onto the road as he starts his taxi business.
“I’ve always been setting aside money with the hope that one day I would buy a car to start a bigger project that is taxi business. It is always hard to keep money especially when you have a family which heavily depends on you. In town everything is rented or bought if you are to survive. For me it was difficult but all the same I worked hard so that one day I become exactly what I have dreamt of. I have bought a Honda Fit, and at the moment I am working to get all the necessary documents to get it on the road as a taxi,” said Mwinde.
He said it is his vision to expand the business and have more taxis, hinting that it might take longer than expected to reach the level he wants.
“Someone might look at me and think I am old enough to retire from doing my work but I can tell you that I am now keen to leave a legacy for my kids. They will talk about how I suffered but I would be happy if my family remained happy and managing in this life,” said Mwinde.
Zimbabwe has been rocked by high unemployment rates with the majority of young people finding it hard to establish their own line of businesses in the country whereas others have retained their faith by relocating to other countries as they sought greener pastures.
However, since the establishment of a new Government headed by President Emmerson Mnangagwa, there has been a shift in policies with most of them bringing a glimpse of hope for a better future.
Mwinde said he was riding on the promises by the President to open up more space for local businesspeople to thrive saying the future looks bright in the country as more investors have expressed interest in the country.
People like Mwinde might have tasted success a little late but there is hope that his business will blossom in the near future as he hopes to acquire more taxis while still running his pushcarts business.