Voices@Athena - Muninyikile Joerom Mutizwa

Voices@Athena - Muninyikile Joerom Mutizwa

"It is a passion of mine to start a business that will one day, support the livelihood of many."

Muninyikile Joerom Mutizwa
Business Development Manager
Bionome Pvt Ltd-  A company that provides Covid-19 solutions

MBA in Business Analytics Batch 2021

A Journey from an Employee to a Researcher and then to an Innovator.

After witnessing my father close down another business, it occurred to me how difficult it is for start-ups to survive in a low to middle economy. With a high rate of unemployment and deindustrialization in Zimbabwe, entrepreneurship is the only haven for most people seeking a decent livelihood. It is particularly difficult for a university graduate. Imagine graduating with student debt only to find out that the employment pool is too congested due to the economic factors plaguing both the private and public sectors. On the positive side, it has forced many to be more innovative and inventive to come up with unique business ideas. However, due to lack of funding and investment, most creative ideas fail to take off. 

This hasn’t deterred me from venturing into the business world though. It is a passion of mine to start a business that will one day, support the livelihood of many. I believe my work experience gives me the edge and  I am confident that I have the right skill sets to pursue and be successful in this career.

During my time working as a Business Development Manager in Zimbabwe for Kinetic Mines and Energy Inner Mongolia and R&F Properties Guangzhou, I had the opportunity to work as part of a team that was spearheaded to negotiate with the Government of Zimbabwe for the potential takeover of a large dormant steel plant called ZISCO Steel. This position improved my negotiating skills and built my professional network of relationships as I was given the task to analyze, review, negotiate terms and give feedback on an Asset Purchase Agreement, “APA”, (the asset value of the takeover was worth over 1 billion United States Dollars). Moreover, I had to engage with high-level Government personnel to ensure that all parties involved completed their obligations required by the APA.  

The skills and network I gained from this experience helped me come up with solutions to fulfil my responsibility of finding large upstream companies which mine essential raw materials to become part of a supply chain for a Chrome smelting project.  At the time of my research, I found that most capable suppliers were already contracted to other competitors, and engaging them would mean purchasing the raw materials at a higher price. However, due to the growth of small-scale mining sector in the country, I advocated for our company to negotiate Joint Venture contracts with small-scale miners. The context of the JV contracts was similar to the APA albeit we were to provide funding to upscale their operations instead of buying out their assets.  

I also developed a business model and a strategic plan that would align their business models to ours to guarantee an efficient production supply. Most of the small-scale miners found it complicated to meet the requirements from the government but thankfully, the network I had built came in handy to tackle this situation. I identified the ideal small-scale miner by considering their geological/exploration report on the quality and quantity of their resources, size of mining land licensed to them, location of the land, their power supply, and their current machinery and technology, among others. This then became the standard business and strategic model for our supply chain.

This inspired me to venture into the start-up world and in 2019, I registered my own company that focused on  Business Development and Marketing research. I wanted to dive into the issues affecting start-ups so I decided to focus my research on incubation hubs in Southern Africa. I traveled to various hubs across the region (Zimbabwe, Zambia, and South Africa) where I conducted interviews with service coordinators and providers. My current analysis suggests that while most hubs provide excellent mentorship, very few provide adequate funding for start-ups. My observation is that some of the incubation hubs are less concerned with innovative start-ups and tend to focus on what I would term “traditional businesses” e.g. chicken poultry, art and craft, carpentry, informal traders and others. This is because Southern Africa is not known for innovative solutions. 

While my research was still ongoing in 2020, the unfortunate Covid-19 pandemic hit the region and I had to halt any further studies. As the Government struggled to fully handle the situation created by the pandemic, I took that as an opportunity to put my practical experience to use by actually participating in an innovative start-up. So late last year, I partnered with some young professional Bankers, Marketers, Public Health officials, and Scientists and we established a company to supply Covid-19 Diagnostic test kits from South Korea.

In the last 8 months, we have drastically expanded our business model from being just a supplier of test kits to providing testing, contact tracing, solutions for businesses to remain operational during lockdowns, counseling to avoid stigma, and soon we will be one of the first private companies to conduct genomic sequencing on variants within the country. 

My successful work experience has led me from being an employee to a researcher and now to an innovator. All this inspired me to seek out an internationally recognized MBA. I am confident that the MBA in Business Analytics program at Athena Global Education will equip me with the intellectual and professional skills to succeed in my chosen career.

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