ZIMBABWEAN civil engineering company, Open Gold Enterprises, has set its sights onto the Southern Africa market after establishing three successful branches in the country.
The company which specialises in coach building is now capable of covering Zimbabwe with two branches in Harare and the other in Bulawayo.
Open Gold managing director Vincent Chawonza said they have since started penetrating the region and work has started to set up a branch in Zambia.
“We are working on setting up another branch in Zambia, with the target being Southern Africa. We want to have branches in countries like Botswana, Namibia, Mozambique, Angola, Malawi and Swaziland among other countries we feel are conducive to do business,” said Chawonza.
“Open Gold is an engineering company which focuses on coach building and engineering. What we do is we manufacture trailers and vehicle truck bodies, box bodies and different specifications.
“Some of them are refrigerated units. We also make ambulances as well single cab trucks. We have a wide range of products which varies from 30-tonne trailers, we also do mobile clinics, water bowsers and we are also into buses but we call it coach building.
“We now have three branches in the country, two in Harare and one in Bulawayo, covering the Northern and Southern regions. We have established business with a number of big companies, most of them blue chip customers. We are setting up in Zambia and the target is the Southern African market in the next five years.
“We have grown, we started this company in 2014 and we have grown in a difficult economy,” he said.
Chawonza attributed the growth of his company to the conducive working environment created by President Mnangagwa’s government.
He said the environment has seen small businesses grow while those that had shutdown revive activities.
He said since the coming in of the new dispensation, there has been a positive development in the industry sector.
“The industry has grown quite well. I think it’s evident, if you move around you can see that the new dispensation has brought in good support.
“They are working to make sure that business is being supported, the black market has been arrested. Stabilisation of the local currency is a big advantage because you can price products in the local currency. If you move around the industry you can see new warehouses, you can see that construction is happening and some of the companies that had closed are reviving business,” he said.
Chawonza said the revival of business in the country shows confidence in the government and more policies should be put in place to ensure continuity.
He said just like other thriving sectors, there is need to give a waiver in the importation of raw materials in the industry sector.
“It means there is confidence in the economy and government of the day. This is not only happening with local business, but foreign investors as well.
“The government is there to put an enabling environment and policies that allow us to work. But, it’s up to us to contribute to the GDP, if the economy is not growing we have failed. But I have noticed that there is tremendous growth in the industry. Even parliamentarians should be looking into these issues, especially the issue of continuity. For example, some of the raw materials being bought in the industry should come with a special waiver,” said Chawonza.
He said coach building is now a thriving industry in Zimbabwe and urged those who want to venture into it should be patient.
“The industry is very viable, depending on what you do and your key facets, we have been operating for the past eight years. So surely there is something right we are doing for our customers.
“It wasn’t like this, we started small and grew over the years. This has helped learn mistakes on a smaller scale. And we now command a huge market share, we have grown this confidence over the years.
“Those who want to venture into this or any business venture should exercise patience. The environment is very conducive and I challenge Zimbabwe to build industries.”
Chawonza, who is not an engineer by profession, said people should not be limited in whatever ideas they have because of education.
“I hold a Master’s Degree in Strategic Management and Business Leadership, Master’s Degree in Business Leadership, Bachelor of Science in Administration. I’m pursuing a Doctorate in Business Leadership. I’m someone who believes that when the business is growing you also need to grow intellectually. But, as you have noticed I am not an engineer by profession but I did not allow education to limit me.”