Poverty, hope and the life of a businessman.
The story starts at the beginning, with nothing much but a dream and the need to be financially independent. At the time, no one ever knew that a little boy from Watsomba had a dream that would transform the lives of many Zimbabweans and build one of Zimbabwe’s fast-growing consultancy firm. The power to move and the hope to achieve all his dreams gave him optimism amidst trials and the uncertainty associated with being unconventional.
Jerry More Nyazungu grew up in the dusty streets of Watsomba in Mutare. For high school, Jerry was educated at Marist Brothers in Nyanga for ‘O’ Level and Hartzell High School in Nyanga for his ‘A’ Level. Upon finishing his Advanced Level studies, instead of going to university, Jerry took an unpopular route that was criticised back in his era and perhaps that still is. He chose to follow an alternative path to get educated. He moved to Harare to start a new life independent from his roots in Mutare.
Upon arrival in Harare, he got his first job at Edgars stores where he worked for six months as a shop attendant until his contract got cancelled the same day he was given an ultimatum to move out by his landlord.
Desperate to earn a living, he invested the money he had to start a vending business where he sold airtime, cigarettes and sweets at Corner Patrenta and Willowvale in Harare. It was a harsh time that taught him some of the most valuable lessons he learnt, thus the motivation to pen The Chartered Vendor. The book addresses the struggles which are being experienced by many Africans particularly those in Zimbabwe;
“ Things are not yet well in Zimbabwe, we are just giving each other hope in this book. This book is unique because it tells our struggle. The book is for everyone. It gives hope and the power to conquer something.
“ The reason why I named it the Chartered Vendor is because I’m a qualified charted secretary and I used to sell sweets and Bananas in Budiriro and Glen View. At the moment I’m still a vendor and the vending part of it involves selling.
In The Chartered Vendor book, chapter one to three is about his personal life whilst chapter four to eleven is about his business journey and the lessons he learnt from when he founded M&J till date. Despite the spiralling and burning Zimbabwean economy, Nyazungu urged Zimbabweans to be active and participate in contributing to the country’s GDP.
“You can build your own personal economy by working very hard and by continuing to dream without actually blaming the government or the economy or Covid-19. But for someone to overcome these challenges you need to dream, you need to have a proper vision, you need to write your goals every day. You need to invest in yourself in terms of reading books,” added Nyazungu.
“ As a Zimbabwean, you cannot afford to be on television all day watching soccer but rather invest in content that actually helps in solving some of the challenges we are facing,”.
Nyazungu stressed the power of dreaming and having a clear picture of where you want to go and want to achieve despite various life challenges. Most of his peers and could not believe that he was capable.
“I was always dreaming, I still remember telling my father that I will own a house in Harare and so many people didn’t believe some of the things I was saying. I even told my former colleagues at Edgar that watch me in the next 10 years, I’m going to be a different person. So I have faith that in the next 10 years I will be at another level as well. Most of them are shocked. They pretend like they don’t even see it. Some of them testify that we didn’t know that you will get this far but to me, I knew I had built the foundation,”
One thing for sure is that building a business is never easy hence it is important to stay vigilant and be persistent all the time. The book comes against a background of a worsening economy with many people struggling to make it through.
“When you are working on something and things are going great, it gives you courage and energy to continue and I think I can do much better than where I am today.
“When you are doing business, things can be very tough like they were for me. It’s not easy to build something. If it’s easy why do it, if a story is going to be easy it’s not going to be interesting. There are many challenges you are going to face rejection, financial challenges
“Sometimes you might even think that I should have not chosen this route but at the end of the day if you are persistent and consistent you will achieve your dream. So it’s never easy but you have to continuously push,” Said Nyazungu.
Managing a business in a country like Zimbabwe is never easy and there are moments that he felt like giving up but his dream would always get in the way and do more.
“As a vendor, sometimes your goods are taken by the city council, you are beaten by the police, getting arrested and I would think why was I even born in Zimbabwe but you have to continuously push. It’s normal to feel like quitting.,”
With so much going on in Zimbabwe, the novel comes as a sign of hope that anyone in life can make it but the most important thing is to remain resolute and stay strong against all odds.
“My mission is to transform the lives of many Zimbabweans and Africa as a whole. As Zimbabweans, we must come out and think about it. We must know where we want to go. Entrepreneurs will only transform the economy and attract investment,” said Nyazungu.