Operating in Mutare
The Mutare business context
In no particular order, in my view, the operating business environment in Mutare is characterised by the following.
- Manicaland has vast and diverse factor endowments – Minerals, Forestry, Tea, Coffee, Fruit, access to Beira port etc… We have the real untapped potential to be the richest province in Zimbabwe.
- There are many tourist attractions in Manicaland – Nyanga, Vumba, Chimanimani and our beautiful City of Mutare
- We have over 90% of viable forestry land in Manicaland. There are challenges of Forest fires and illegal settlers on forestry land.
- We have the Chiyadzwa diamond fields right here in our province. No spillover business to show for it here in Mutare.
- We have the cleanest and most reliable water supply in Zimbabwe. This is good for investment.
- We are fortunate to have a pro-business Resident Minister, Mandi Chimene, She understands business and is prepared to engage and assist business. A very underutilised resource.
Doing business in Mutare
Is it easy to do business in Mutare?
Those who are not entrepreneurs will say a big NO! They will advance the following reasons:
- All businesses in Mutare are affected by exogenous problems that confront our economy. For example, cash shortages, hard USD and ZAR shortages for production process inputs, high cost of doing business etc.
- Poor service delivery by the City of Mutare – 90% of their budget going to payroll costs at the expense of infrastructure maintenance and development. Bad roads, refuse collections, the high cost of licenses, rates, and other fees – all impacting on competitiveness.
- Porous border and cheap imports impacting on the competitiveness of locally produced goods.
- Poor service from NRZ – once efficient and low cost but now virtually defunct.
- About 80% of Mutare’s economy is now informal trade. Negatively impacts on 20% of the formal businesses as they have to comply with tax and other regulations at a high cost.
- Manicaland has traditionally been an agro-based economy with distinct and functional value-chains. For example, Timber through to Mutare Board and Paper Mills, BTL, Manica Boards, and Doors and Wattle CO. Fruit and Vegetables from farms to Cairns Foods. Coffee from farms to Zimbabwe Coffee Mill. Macadamia nuts to Pecmac Nut Company. Cotton and Cottco. The reduction of production on the farms has had a huge impact on all these companies that once thrived in Mutare. Most have closed and the remaining are operating at 33% capacity.
In amongst all this adversity through, the entrepreneur should seek and find opportunity. The opportunity that lurks within the rubble. How can the hidden potential of this great province be unlocked – is the next big question. I’m going to try and answer that by provoking your entrepreneurial imagination.
Extract from Mr. Chiwandire’s speech on our event.