Mutumwa Mawere one of Zimbabwe’s business icon “touched down at Harare International Airport at 1355 hours yesterday aboard a British Airways flight from Johannesburg after spending six years “in the wilderness”. This has to be one of the most visible achievement by the Government of National Unity in terms of being progressive and being “business friendly” Mawere’s safe return sends an encouraging signal to investors that indeed Zimbabwe is now on the progressive path to recovery and tolerance.
I personally met Mawere on different occasions in Harare, London and Toronto under different circumstances. When I met him in London one thing me struck most is how relaxed but focused he was on setting the record straight and also impart his vast business knowledge to others.
Below is how he is his early business life is described
“Mutumwa Dziva Mawere (born January 11, 1960 in Bindura, Zimbabwe), is an African business executive, pioneer, financier, banker and entrepreneur best known as the founder and Chairman of Africa Resources Limited (“ARL”). He is known for having built one of the most powerful and influential corporations in Zimbabwe’s history called Africa Resources Limited
He was educated in Zimbabwe, Swaziland, United Kingdom and United States. He holds B.Sc (Economics), M.Sc (Management), MBA (Finance & Investments) degrees as well as other professional qualifications.
He began his professional career as an Acturial Student in 1984. He then joined the Industrial Development Corporation of Zimbabwe in late 1984 as a Research Economist and rose through the ranks to become a Senior Research Economist in 1987 before joining the Merchant Bank of Central Africa in the same year as a Corporate Finance Executive.
In 1988, he joined the World Bank as a Young Professional. After completing the program in 1989, he was appointed as an Investment Officer for the International Finance Corporation, the private sector lending arm of the World Bank. He rose through the ranks to become a Senior Investment Officer in 1994. In 1995, he resigned from the World Bank and immigrated to South Africa where he has been based since.
In 1995, he founded Africa Resources Limited (ARL), an investment holding company incorporated under the laws of the British Virgin Island, before moving to South Africa. In August 1995, he approached T & N Plc the UK domiciled parent company of Shabanie & Mashaba Mines Private Limited (SMM) with a proposal to acquire the company’s Zimbabwean subsidiaries i.e. the asbestos mines, two Zimbabwean industrial companies and a Zambian manufacturing company. Negotiations began in September 1995.
In November 1995, Mawere formed a partnership with Investec Bank Limited, a South African investment bank, to structure and mobilize financing for a mining private equity fund.
While working on the private equity fund, he continued his negotiations with T & N that culminated in an agreement in March 1996 pursuant to which ARL, a company in which he is the sole shareholder, acquired the remaining mining and industrial assets of T & N in Zimbabwe and Zambia.
Since the acquisition of T & N’s two UK based companies that were the sole beneficial owners of the Zimbabwean and Zambian companies, the ARL group of companies grew organically and through acquisitions to become one of the largest and diversified black controlled conglomerates with operations in South Africa, UK, Zambia, Namibia, and Malawi employing about 20,000 people and generating a turnover of about US$400 million.
In 1997, the group established a warehousing and forwarding business, Shipping Consolidated Holdings (“SCH”) with operations in Zimbabwe (container depot) and Durban, South Africa (warehouse). Acquired a 100% stake in a cellular service provider, CST Cellular Private Limited, later renamed Firstel Cellular Zimbabwe.
Mawere was the promoter, sponsor and investor in a greenfield commercial bank, FBC Bank (“FBC”). FBC was registered as a commercial bank in February 1997 in accordance with the Zimbabwe Banking Act. FBC is one of the first three commercial banks to be provided with an operating license by the Registrar of Banks and Financial Institutions since 1981. Since opening its first branch in August 1997, FBC has established 14 branch locations countrywide.”
Mawere’s return to Zimbabwe opens a new chapter in Zimbabwe’s business environment as the country seeks to cement its image as an attractive emerging market. If individuals such as Sir Richard Branson are keen to invest in Zimbabwe ,it goes without saying that Zimbabwe’s own leading business people like Mawere must be at the forefront exploiting business opportunities that are so abundant in Zimbabwe.