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Zim businesses crisis-driven

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It can probably be summed up as one man’s risk is another man’s opportunity!

Since the turn of the millennium, there has been a plethora of new forms of businesses that have been sprouting all over the country’s urban and rural centres.

The economy though is sanitising from the hyperinflationary types of businesses.

Like bubbles, these enterprises emerge one minute and the next minute they vanish when the market gets flooded.

While most have gone on to succeed for a little while, most of the businesses have not been sustainable.

As the country continues to hop from one crisis to the other, so are local companies and individuals as they seek to exploit whatever opportunity is brought about by a new crisis.

Take, for instance, the fuel shortage in the early 2000 when those that had the capacity to import the precious liquid made a killing, but where is that line of businesses now?

One would also recall how people made money through the importation of basic foodstuffs, cooking oil and soap at the height of food shortages and other essentials.

What about those that had set up “bureaux de change” at various work places or at their homes?
Anybody knows what has became of those businesses?

Things can definitely not be normal in a country where R4 and R5 are adjudged to be of the same value, this is definitely a sign that all is not well.

Now in 2012 there are new forms of businesses also exploiting shortcomings of the economy.
While the general public worry about the coin situation, which does not seem to have a solution in sight, for innovative supermarkets, the turn of events means they will keep on “smiling all the way to the bank”.

The transacting public has been left with no choice but to buy sweets, paper bags, chewing gums and airtime so that they do not leave their much treasured change.

Some supermarkets have tried to be innovative by issuing vouchers although these limit customers’ choice because it means they have to go back to the same supermarket.

Turning to the issue of the infamous power cuts, although the load-shedding by Zesa has resulted in bleak nights for many people, the crisis has turned out to be Godsend for generator manufacturers who have seen an upsurge in business.

The power outages have seen generator suppliers recording brisk business as individuals and companies have now resorted to the use of generators.

The Zimbabwe Electricity Distribution and Transmission Company has over the years introduced a load-shedding schedule, which has seen some homes going for as much as nine hours without power every day.

There are home industries springing all over the show as demand for candles has shot up.
Almost at every corner there is now a shop selling solar panels and solar lights.

What will become of these businesses when the country’s power generation capacity improves?
The power cuts have also resulted in the emergence of a booming gas retailing business.

Rewind back to several years ago and you will realise that keeping gas for domestic use in homes was regarded a risky enterprise given its highly flammable nature, but the frequent power cuts have made gas a basic necessity.

The increase in demand for gas has, subsequently, made selling the commodity a highly profitable venture with very quick returns as households have resorted to it for day-to-day use.
After all has been said and done, the question to ask is: When will the country start developing sustainable business models, not kneejerk responses to a particular crisis?

This is an indictment on our government and private sector players for failing to come up with permanent solutions to challenges affecting the country.

We cannot have a situation where every home now generates its own power when we have a fully-fledged Energy ministry to deal with the issue.

The fact is that there is lack of innovation.

If the country is dreaming of achieving the 100-billion-dollar economy by 2040, then it’s time it laid the framework for businesses that will not only last as long as a particular crisis, but ones that transcend generations.

For views and comments email: mmafirakurewa@newsday.co.zw. Follow me on twitter @mmafira.

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