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Let’s grow the BusinessLink Community together
Please send me your thoughts and feedback by email or post your comments at the SME Businesslink group page at  LinkedIn, at  www.facebook/smebusinesslink or on our website. Invite your friends and contacts to subscribe to the free newsletter and also participate in our activities and accelerate each one’s growth! Best wishes in 2012.

Important notice to our readersThe information and advice in this Newsletter is of a general nature. Readers are advised to consult their professional accountant or legal advisor for specific advice on important issues in their business, such as taxation or investment advice.

Phillip Chichoni –Publisher
Copyright © 2012 Admiral Business Systems (Pvt) Ltd. All rights reserved. To subscribe to the BusinessLink Gold Club, please download subscription form at our website.
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Is the CABS Youth Fund an urban legend or do youths lack viable ideas?

By Phil Chichoni
The above titled Letter to the editor appeared in the Zimbabwe Independent newspaper last Friday.  The author, Tafadzwa from Harare, noted that of the US$11 million which was said to be available when the fund was launched in November last year, only $91, 827 has been disbursed, while $306 889 has been approved. 

Phil Chichoni

Tafadzwa adds that at this rate of disbursement, it would take 30 years for the fund to be fully utilised. He goes on to castigate a Zimbabwe Youth Council Officer who was recently quoted in the media saying that “the youth are failing to put ideas on the table to get funds”.  The letter gets more interesting as Tafadzwa raises a very pertinent point: Zimbabwe has achieved the highest literacy rate in Africa, so it is therefore a fallacy to say Zimbabweans have no ideas.
In his best-selling book Rich Dad Poor Dad, Robert Kiyosaki said many young people are failing to succeed financially because of the education they are taught at school, which trains young people for life as employees. This education, though useful for life in general, does not empower those who want to be entrepreneurs.
So the question is, do the so called highly literate Zimbabwean youths really have the relevant acumen to be entrepreneurs? Have they mastered the essential skills that every entrepreneur must master, which include selling and marketing, financial management , business planning, market research, competitor analysis, SWOT analysis, people management, strategic planning? Or, to put it more simply, have they ever sold anything or taken any calculated risks? Have they ever attended an entrepreneurship class or training seminar?
If one has not done any of the above, which would make them more likely to succeed in business, then they obviously cannot convince the experienced CABS loan officers, who deal with thousands of real businesses, to support their ideas.
The fact that only 61 projects have been approved ($306 880/$5,000 maximum loan amount) clearly shows the gap between the theoretical education that youths learn at school and real business practicalities.
Business is not easy. Even established owners are struggling to repay the loans they got from banks in the past three years. The current liquidity crunch is partly a result of the failure by the majority of local businesses to repay their loans. Indications are that some banks have up to 90% non-performing loans. If the adults, with their experience and existing assets, cannot run viable businesses, what more the inexperienced youths?
Maybe I could be wrong, so let me know what you think. Email at chichonip@smebusinesslink.com or put your comment in the comment box at http://smebusinesslink.com.

New business kick-start program for young unemployed Graduates

A new business kick-start program for young unemployed graduates, the first of its kind in Zimbabwe, is set to be launched in May. The purpose of the program is to equip qualifying graduates with essential business skills and resources that will enable them to run a viable business within 3 months.
This is not a training course. It is a practical on the ground business building and mentorship program. Participants will take part in real business activities, starting with the essential skill that every entrepreneur needs: selling.
After that, they will work on the other basic business functions of marketing, financial management, record keeping, people management, strategic planning, market research, product and service development and business systems development. All this will take place in a real business environment, called the Business Laboratory.
From the start, participants will run their own business, with the full support of experienced business experts and mentors, producing and selling real products and services.
It is expected that after completing the program in 3 to 6 months, participants will be able to continue and grow their businesses on their own, with mentorship and support still provided.
Business Laboratory will provide the essential kick-start resources needed to start the business on a small scale.
More details on this program will be available in this newsletter in two weeks time (16th April edition) and also on the BusinessLink website.

Need company registration or tax clearance in Zimbabwe?

Mistakes many entrepreneurs make

when looking for funding

By a correspondent

You’ll never hear a successful entrepreneur say “I would have made it big, but I couldn’t receive funding.”

Many entrepreneurs complain that funders are refusing to finance their businesses and it’s hard to get a bank loan. Here are some excerpts of a chat between Entrepreneur magazine and Alexandra Fraser of Invenfin Venture Capital.
What is one of the biggest mistakes entrepreneurs make looking for funding?
They don’t prepare properly before approaching a funder. Raising funds takes time and resources. You should never approach a funder until you have done your homework. Find out what type of projects each investor or funder is financing. If you ask for funds for a project not in the funder’s mandate you will be wasting your time.
What is the single biggest thing you hear from entrepreneurs that turns you off a project?
You hear someone saying there is no competition in a market valued in the billions. It’s an immediate red flag that they haven’t done their homework and have no idea who their competitors are. You always need to know who your market is, who your competitors are and what your differentiator is.
What are the key attributes you’ve noticed in entrepreneurs who succeed?
Commitment to the cause. No matter whether they receive funding or not, they find a way to make their business work. You’ll never hear a successful entrepreneur say “I would have made it big, but I couldn’t receive funding.” They make things happen. In fact, their concept is usually a reality before they even raise funding. They are resourceful and opportunistic. Money is not an obstacle; it’s merely a problem that needs solving.
In your opinion, why do most entrepreneurs not get funding?
They haven’t done their homework. They haven’t put enough time and effort into really working on the business and researching their market. Through research they will be able to prove their differentiator, establish a competitive advantage, develop a strong, revenue producing business model and evaluate their market. Investors will know when you haven’t done enough research and work on your business model.

From Entrepreneur Magazine March 2012


Are Zimdollar business leaders competent enough in the US dollar economy?

By Phil Chichoni

Josh Sachikonye

The end of the first quarter of 2012 has seen some major changes in leadership of listed companies. RioZim was forced by new investors, Global Emerging Markets, to chuck out Managing Director Joshphat Sachikonye who had run down the company and incurred huge losses and unsustainable borrowings.

At the Rainbow Tourism Group, CEO Chipo Mtasa has left after failing to run the company profitably. Mtasa announced her exit from the hospitality concern, leaving the company in a loss position and saddled with a $23 million debt.  CBZ Holdings likewise has promoted John Mangudya to replace the outgoing Nyasha Makuvise amidst market speculation that the bank is overexposed to bad loans and is choking the entire financial sector through failing to forward payments from Government, of which it is the primary banker, to other institutions.
A question arises now: Is the current breed of Zimdollar era executives competent enough to run business profitably in a free market, US dollar environment?
In business, success is proven by results, which is profit. Winning leaders produce profits , while losers are seen by the losses they generate. In the first two cases, Mtasa and Sachikonye have been clear losers.
A business expert I spoke to recently commented that most of business leaders were contaminated by the anarchic methods of doing business during the crisis decade.  They were so used to unethical and unfair business methods and unrestrained spending that is has become difficult for them to readapt to proper business methods and doing things by the book and making a profit.  In order to become competent, these old horses need to completely erase their minds of the old ways and start afresh.
If there is no drastic change in the faces of business leadership in Zimbabwe, there is a high risk that young upcoming executives and entrepreneurs will adopt the same old ways and also become contaminated, resulting in poor development of business management in Zimbabwe.
Please share your thoughts on this subject. Email chichonip@smebusinesslink.com

“Why most SMEs never grow: Using the Results Mega shift Solution to Grow Yours without Fail “.

By Phil Chichoni
On Friday, we were treated to a very inspiring presentation by Simon Bere at the BusinessLink Networking Breakfast meeting at the ZimCafe restaurant in Harare.
Simon shared some valuable insights which he acquired while extending his education in the United Kingdom.  One thing different about the college he attended was that one was free to study any subject of his choice not necessarily related to his core course. For example, a Masters’ student in medicine could also study entrepreneurship or business management at a higher level. This provides room for one to widen their knowledge and not have a blinkered vision.
Simon began by describing how a “Grand Vision” is the key to success in business and life. To formulate a grand vision, you need start at your desired future, how your business will look like in all aspects when everything is working well. Simon gave the example of how Nigel Chanakira told him of his vision of  how Kingdom was going to look like when it became a global financial institution listed on the New York Stock Exchange. His vision was very detailed, with a clear picture in his mind of how the company would look like, where is will be located, how many people it would employ and how much money it would be making.
When one has created the Grand Vision, he or she then needs go to back to the past, which is the present day and then map the steps needed to bring about the Grand Vision. The bigger your Grand Vision for the future is in your brain, the greater it will be on the ground.
Simon’s formula for the Mega shift approach is represented by the following equation:
Current situation +_ (Vision) (Potential) – (Mental Blocks)-(Barriers) (Opportunities) (Motivation) (Action) = Results
Why most SMEs remain small
The majority of small business owners cannot grow because they are satisfied by their current achievements. A house in a leafy suburb, a Mercedes, children at a private boarding school, enough money for food and clothing- that is enough for most business owners. Once they get these things, they have no further motivation.
That is a trap. Our brains and talents are capable of achieving much more than a comfortable life. If you have a Grand Vision, like Nigel Chanakira, Bill Gates or Richard Branson, you will not be satisfied by small achievements. You will want to do more, to utilise your mind and faculties to the full.
When you know how you want your business to look like in the Grand Vision, you will work to build the business’ essential elements, which consist of seven critical components:

  • Finance
  • Sales
  • Systems
  • Strategies
  • Marketing
  • customers
  • Operations

These cover the essential functions of a successful business. No single entrepreneur can perform all these functions on his own; therefore you need to build a competent team.
In conclusion, Simon summed up his presentation about how you can build a business that will grow as follows:
Know what you want to be
Look what you want to be
Act what you want to be
Control- know things that you cannot control and work on those things you can control
Have something to offer
Offer it to as many people as possible
Offer it well
Offer it as frequently as possible
Charge for it
BusinessLink together with Simon and other business experts is organizing a Business Seminar that will cover this topic in more detail, as well as how you can set up the seven essential functions for growing your business mentioned above.  The Seminar will be held in Harare on Thursday 17 May. As usual BusinessLink Gold Club members enjoy 50% discount at this and all other BusinessLink events. More details will appear in this newsletter and on our website.

BusinessLink Events Coming up

  • Saturday 21 April: Business Class Writing Class
  • Wednesday 25 April: Business Class Writing Class
  • Friday 27 April 2012: BusinessLink Networking Breakfast Meeting, Zim Cafe, 124 Nkwameh Nkrumah, Harare 0830-0945. Presenter: Brendan Palmer of Sabre Consultancy. Topic: To be advised
  • Thursday 17May 2012:  BusinessLink Seminar, 0830-1630 Full details TBA
  • Thursday 24 May 2012: BusinessLink Networking Breakfast Meeting, Zim Cafe, 124 Nkwameh Nkrumah Avenue, Harare 0830-0945. Presenter: TBA. Topic: To be advised.

New Series of Audio Books Launched

Now you can listen to best selling audio books while you drive, riding a bus, flying, exercising or simply resting. 
BusinessLink launched a new Audio series of best selling business book at the BusinessLink Networking Breakfast meeting last week. Participants at the event were given a complimentary copy. I f you missed this event, you can get your copy of the CD at Crayseal Trading, 5th Floor Hungwe House, Jason Moyo Street, between 1st and 2nf Street.  The price is only $5.00 for the set of four books until 30 April or while stocks last, after that the price will go up to $10.

If you are out of Harare, we can send your CD by Zimpost at no extra charge or by overnight courier for an extra $1.00. Payment is easier, just use Ecocash if you are a member, or simply SMS airtime codes to the following number: 0777 774 007 together with your address for delivery.
The CD contains the following best selling business and self help books in Audio (mp3) version:

  • Gerard Nierenberg- How to Read a Person like a Book
  • Stephen Covey- The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People
  • Dr. Anthony Robbins- Total Self  Confidence
  • Napoleon Hill-Think and Grow Rich

Also available from BusinessLink:
1)      Business Planning Simplified Book $18 , CD version (PDF) $9.00
2)    The Entrepreneurs Guide to Starting a Business in Zimbabwe $6
3)    Low Cost High Impact Marketing Strategies for SMEs $7
4)    Developing a Three Step Strategic Plan to Grow Your Business $12
5)    Business Starter Pack CD (containing the books 2 to 4 in PDF) $8
6)      Accelerate Your Growth in 2012 Business Seminar on DVD (2 discs)$12

Subscribe to BusinessLink Gold Club and get free 6 months subscription to The Standard newspaper

Subscribe to BusinessLink Gold Club before 30 April and get a free 6 months subscription to the leading Sunday newspaper, The Standard, in addition to the following usual benefits:

1 12 Breakfast seminars, one for free and 11 at 50% discount(Held on the last  Friday of each month) (Cost of each: $20. Save $130 in a year)  


Free copy of the monthly BusinessLink magazine packed with insights, resources and opportunities for Zimbabwean SMEs and entrepreneurs   


Up to 50% discounts on all publications, books, DVDs  


Up to 50% discounts at BusinessLink seminars, training workshops and networking events  


Listing of your business  or products profile  on the SME BusinessLink Community website and giving you access to the fastest growing network of high-performance entrepreneurs and business owners in Zimbabwe   


50% discount on advertising price in the BusinessLink monthly magazine print edition  

Subscription fee is $100 per year.
Half year subscription is $60 (and you get free 3 months Standard newspaper subscription) and 3 months $35- but no free Standard subscription.

Please complete the subscription form attached to the email that came with this newsletter, or download the form at http://smebusinesslink.com or request one by email to marketing@smebusinesslink.com.
Subscription Money back guarantee.
 If you are not totally satisfied, you may cancel your subscription at any time and we will refund in full the unused portion of your subscription.

How best to manage employees in a start-up or small business

In Zimbabwe, SME’s are flourishing as more people choose or are forced by high unemployment levels to start up their own businesses. One of the main problems entrepreneurs encounter is managing their employees effectively. This article will give some guidelines on how to do that.
Managing employees is one of the key weaknesses which have often been observed in start-up entrepreneurs. Company founders can be so wrapped up in their vision, that their so-called “people skills” suffer. Managers may also not have a background in human resource management or the legislation affecting their management.  It is a common small business management failing. The human capital element is integral in any business as your employees drive all the other resources in the business, such as finance. If they are not managed effectively, the management of the company’s resources also suffers. This results in poor productivity and conversely reduced revenues for the company. Many promising businesses have failed through lack of proper human resource management where employees were left to their own dealings and after a few months, one notices that they have managed it to the ground.
As such, employees will be crucial to the success of your business. But getting them to do what you want can be a struggle as the human element is not easily controllable. Plus, keeping up with legal, tax and other employer responsibilities can be challenging.

Dealing with people issues
So how can an entrepreneur get good results without “micro-managing” every detail? And what’s a good place to get answers to HR questions as they arise? Any business owner with employees must deal with “people” issues every day. As your company’s top executive and Human Resources (HR) manager, you are the one responsible for making it all function smoothly.
But that is easier said than done given the long list of laws and regulations governing your dealings with employees. And the legal aspects are just the beginning. Applying proper small business management skills can be an even bigger obstacle. For example, most business owners have delegated work to an employee, only to find a finished task or product that is nothing like what they envisioned. In most such cases, the culprit is simply poor communication. So let’s look at six steps to improving communication and getting the best from your staff:

  • Direct, personal contact: With today’s time-saving technology, it is tempting and easier to manage by e-mail. But would you try to close a deal with a big customer by e-mail? Some business owners choose to manage their own employees from a distance even though they know that personal contact is necessary when closing a sale. So why not apply the same approach to your employees? Direct contact builds rapport and trust.
  • Clear instructions: Don’t assume that everyone understands the mission as you do and is ready to take action. Employees may not be as ensconced in the details of your business. Instead of asking if instructions are understood, ask what specific steps the person will take to complete the task.
  • Tact and empathy: Constant criticism can be de-motivating. By highlighting the positive and correcting mistakes without getting personal, employees are more likely to deliver what you want.
  • Take the time: Part of being a manager is managing, so if you want good results from employees, carve out some time for one-on –one as well as group meetings. Offer your undivided attention to demonstrate to others that they are a priority in your business. I have found in dealings with clients that weekly planning meetings and regular individual meetings ensure employees are aware of the company’s objectives and are constantly geared and aligned to achieving them.
  • Listen a little more: Solicit suggestions from employees on how work is done, and treat their concerns seriously. An Open Door policy gives employees a feeling of personal responsibility and a platform to implement improvements. You will find that such a policy helps you manage the culture and climate of the company and helps deal with “office politics”. Employees are less likely to indulge in the “grapevine” if they feel they have a platform to air their views.
  • Provide consistent feedback: Some business owners do not tell employees what they are doing right or wrong during the course of the year, and then at annual review time they drop bombshells on the unwary. People want the opportunity to develop and improve. So provide constructive, on-the-job feedback on situations as they arise. Also, regular performance assessments help you measure how your employees are performing and what training needs are necessary to improve performance. It also lets an employee know that his performance is under scrutiny and he cannot afford to relax on the job.

These are a few of the ways in which you can manage your staff but like all guidelines should not be hard and fast rules. As with all dealings with people, different personalities and communication styles will play a huge part in human resource management. Where the business owner feels he/she is overwhelmed by “people issues”, each industry offers support through National Employment Councils which will help you understand the legal aspect of HR, through HR consultants and the Ministry of Labour.

The author, Buhle Taodzera is the Managing Consultant of All About People HR & Recruitment Consultants and can be contacted on aapconsultant.hr@mail.com / (+263) 773 974 669 for any questions.

Insights corner: Ansoff’s product / market matrix

The Ansoff Growth matrix is a tool that helps businesses decide their product and market growth strategy.
Ansoff’s product/market growth matrix suggests that a business’ attempts to grow depend on whether it markets new or existing products in new or existing markets.

The output from the Ansoff product/market matrix is a series of suggested growth strategies that set the direction for the business strategy. These are described below:
Market penetration
Market penetration is the name given to a growth strategy where the business focuses on selling existing products into existing markets.
Market penetration seeks to achieve four main objectives:
• Maintain or increase the market share of current products – this can be achieved by a combination of competitive pricing strategies, advertising, sales promotion and perhaps more resources dedicated to personal selling
• Secure dominance of growth markets
• Restructure a mature market by driving out competitors; this would require a much more aggressive promotional campaign, supported by a pricing strategy designed to make the market unattractive for competitors
• Increase usage by existing customers – for example by introducing loyalty schemes
A market penetration marketing strategy is very much about “business as usual”. The business is focusing on markets and products it knows well. It is likely to have good information on competitors and on customer needs. It is unlikely, therefore, that this strategy will require much investment in new market research.

Market development
Market development is the name given to a growth strategy where the business seeks to sell its existing products into new markets.
There are many possible ways of approaching this strategy, including:
• New geographical markets; for example exporting the product to a new country
• New product dimensions or packaging: for example
• New distribution channels
• Different pricing policies to attract different customers or create new market segments
Product development
Product development is the name given to a growth strategy where a business aims to introduce new products into existing markets. This strategy may require the development of new competencies and requires the business to develop modified products which can appeal to existing markets.
Diversification is the name given to the growth strategy where a business markets new products in new markets.
This is an inherently more risk strategy because the business is moving into markets in which it has little or no experience.
For a business to adopt a diversification strategy, therefore, it must have a clear idea about what it expects to gain from the strategy and an honest assessment of the risks.

BusinessLink Notice board: NEW VACANCIES

Marketing Manager
To develop, establish and maintain marketing strategies to meet organizational objectives. Effective management of the marketing, advertising and promotional activities of the organization.
Education and Experience

  • Business or marketing-related degree or equivalent professional qualification
  • experience in all aspects of developing and maintaining marketing strategies
  • technical marketing skills
  • proven experience in customer and market research
  • relevant product and industry knowledge
  • experience with relevant software applications

Operations/Logistics Manager

  • Responsible for the success of assigned functions within a  Business Unit ensuring synergy and cooperation between divisions

 Qualifications and Experience
1. Degree in Business Management / Operations Management
2. Clean Class Four Driver’s Licence
3.  Ability to multi task
4. Ability to work with minimum supervision
5. Ability to work under pressure
6. Strong organisational and leadership ability
7. Strong planning and analytical skills
8. Ability to lead and manage cross functional teams
Administrative Manager
To plan, direct, or coordinate supportive services of an organization, such as HR Management, Finance and general Administrative duties such as record-keeping, mail distribution, telephone operator/receptionist, and other office support services

  • Degree in Business Administration/ Commerce
  • At least 3 years relevant work experience
  • Membership of a professional body such as IPMZ
  • Clean Class Four Driver’s Licence
  • Knowledge of principles and techniques of labour relations and equal employment opportunities policies and procedures
  • Knowledge of principles of office management
  • Knowledge of training and supervisory techniques

PR Officer

  • Responsible for creating and maintaining a positive public image for the organization. They communicate with the public and advise the company in matters of public relations.
  • Responsible for setting up public appearances, handling conflicts and keeping the public updated on vital company information.
  • Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism, Marketing or Communications from a recognised University
  • Strong MS OFFICE knowledge including MS Word, PowerPoint and Excel packages
  • At least three years relevant work experience
  • Clean Class Four Driver’s Licence

Fundraising Officer

  • To play a key role in the development and implementation of the client’s fundraising activities in order to secure funding for programme work and organisational core costs.
  • Bachelor’s degree in Communications or PR
  • At least one year experience in Corporate fundraising.
  • Proven record of successful applications for substantial funding from Trusts and other grant-making bodies and demonstrable ability to develop relationships with Corporate partners and Trusts
  • Experience of researching Trust and Corporate funding opportunities.
  • Working within a charitable environment, preferably within an international development charity
  • Ability to communicate in of English, Shona and Ndebele

The above two positions to work on a part time basis three days a week
Remuneration to be discussed with successful candidate
If you are interested in any of these positions, please email CV to Buhle at aapconsultant.hr@mail.com


Admiral Business Systems (Pvt) Ltd is seeking for enthusiastic and switched on young people to join its consultancy team in Harare

Trainee Bookkeepers (3)

We need to recruit bookkeepers for outsourced contractual with our SME clients in different sectors.

Essential attributes:

  • Hardworking
  • Enthusiastic about finance and business
  • Knowledge of basic accounting and taxes
  • Basic knowledge of manual record-keeping plus common accounting software (Pastel, QuickBooks etc)
  • Good communication, numerical and writing skills

On the job training will be provided.

Market Research Officers (3)

We need to recruit young people for on the field market research assignments on behalf of our clients.

Essential attributes

  • Hardworking
  • Enthusiastic about business
  • A passion for marketing
  • Good communication, numerical and writing skills

On the job training will be provided.

If interested, please email your CV or a one page personal profile and your application indicating the position sought to chichonip@smebusinesslink.com.

For more information about Admiral Business Systems, please visit http://admiralbiz.wordpress.com.





  1. Peter Raeth says:

    A worthy newsletter.

    The table of contents should contain links to the referenced articles.

    Glad to be on your mailing list.

  2. Excellent post. I will be going through some of these issues as well.

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