From his based in the United Kingdom, Tapiwa Admire Kundoro wants to build an empire. The CEO of Vaka Building Materials and Hardware comes from a family that has 40 years’ experience in the construction industry. Now he is eyeing an ambitious project to sell mortgages to the diaspora.This year will mark 11 years since Vaka Building Materials and Hardware was launched. The company is a one stop building materials supplier for Zimbabweans at home and in the diaspora.
Vaka is an official agent for many Zimbabwean based building materials suppliers; that include Zimtile, Willdale Bricks, Impipower, Metrotile, Duraworld, Grapnote Steel and many more. With branches in Harare, Gweru and Bulawayo and a distribution network that supplies all over Zimbabwe, Vaka has helped many Zimbabweans in the diaspora to build homes back in Zimbabwe.
Kundoro a pastor in Norwich (UK) where he lives, explained why many Zimbabweans have opted to use their service. “Instead of customers spending the whole day going to 20 different building suppliers they can just contact Vaka in the comfort of their office or home and get all their materials. We offer customers convenience of buying all their building materials in one place,” he says.
A lot of businesspeople will relate to the initial hurdles he faced. He admits “setting up Vaka was difficult as most suppliers did not want to work with us for five years until finally, we got Willdale and Zimtile on board and other companies began to join as well.
“I was told by many people that it would not work as customers want to see what they buy, but we have turned a lot of customers around and now have a working relationship of trust. “Having lived in the United Kingdom for five years there was one common theme among many Zimbabweans in the diaspora and that was trying to build back home but having difficulties with family members.
“Many people had sent money home to Zimbabwe to procure building materials, but this was getting misdirected by family and friends. I saw an opportunity to set up a service to support Zimbabweans in the diaspora build back home and the business.” But Kundoro has a vision for his company to do more. He wants to partner with mortgage providers to sell mortgages to the diaspora and “increasing the flow of foreign currency into the country.”
“Secondly partnering with local authorities and land developers to sell directly to the diaspora to increase the flow of foreign currency into the country. Vaka will be a household name,” he added.
Kundoro graduated from the Oasis of Grace Bible College in Zimbabwe in 1998. He then got a BA (Hons) Informal and Community Education from Canterbury Christ Church University 2006 before getting a Master’s in Business administration (Norwich Business School) in the UK. “Having previously managed the family business, sold my mother’s stuff at the flea market on Rezende street I have always been passionate about business and when I did my MBA, I finally decided it was time and all this came from my Entrepreneurship class at Business School.
His advice for upcoming entrepreneurs is “Don’t be afraid to start something just because someone is doing it there is always space in the market.” “Look for mentors to challenge you and don’t always think you have to do it alone. Talk to friends and family. Above all seek the grace of God it makes things possible,” he said.” “I want to play my part in rebuilding Zimbabwe and moving back to Zimbabwe to be part of that especially in the construction industry. I want to do bungee jumping at the Victoria Falls in the next five years. As Vaka we want to continue to grow to ensure that we remain relevant in our field.”
Kundoro is married to Thandi and is father to a 6-year-old boy called Tawona.