72-year old businessman and founder of Mashwede Holdings, Alex Mashamhanda, was born in Chivi. Today he commands a business empire that employs over 600 people. He is the founder and owner of Mashwede Holdings. (Mashwede is a compound name for Mashamhanda, his father’s name and Hwede, his grandfather’s name). His business interests span from property and fuel to commodities, LP gas, and more.

Mashwede Holdings is headquartered at Mashwede Towers in Arcadia. He is a Trustee at Falcon Golf Club in Hatfield, a place he frequents every weekend. Mr Mashamhanda is also known for his US$850 000 mansion at his rural home in Chivi. The mansion is 3-storey, has 7 en suite bedrooms, and more than 4 balconies, amongst other features.

Early Life And Business Genesis

He did his primary education at St Simon Zhara. Later on, he attended Berejena Mission for his secondary level education. He then studied Local Governance at Domboshava Training Centre. He started off working in banking, initially at Barclays Bank. Afterwards, he worked at Zimbank, at one point becoming a branch manager.

His business journey started with him launching M&H Educational Supplies around the 90s. After leaving Zimbank he started focusing full-time on M&H Educational Supplies. He also started a shop business in Mutoko at Suswe Business Centre. From then on, his business interests grew exponentially. Things grew to a point where he sponsored the M&H National Under 17 soccer tournaments from 1997 to 2011.

Philanthropy Work

He has been instrumental over the years in giving back to communities. In Sese, he has bankrolled several initiatives e.g. electrification, irrigation, and several others. For example, Mashwede Holdings availed US$150 000 that was used to connect water and electricity for 3 schools in Sese. These are Danhamombe High, St Simon Zhara Primary, and Chikore Primary. They also connected water to over 20 houses in his rural home area. Not too long ago, Mashwede Holdings gave a scholarship to a student from Chitungwiza who was struggling with finances for his university studies. These are just a few examples of the many times Mr Mashamhanda has contributed to societal and community development.

Humility, Frugality And Trans-generational Thinking

Mr Mashamhanda is a personification of humility and frugality. It is commonplace for successful business people to live indulgent lives. He is a stark contrast to that narrative. I recall last year he was usually using a Honda Fit as his vehicle. An encapsulation of his mindset is best captured in something he once said: ‘A car is a mode of transport and not a tool for showing off. My car is a fuel saver. Some people buy expensive cars to impress girlfriends. At my age, can I honestly do that?

The hallmark of an exemplary father is to leave an inheritance for his kids. Creating wealth that will live on for generations should be the aim of every business person or entrepreneur. Mr Mashamhanda is big on that. He once indicated that he is already conditioning his children to be at the helm later on. This is a perfect example of not only leaving an inheritance but of closely involving your children in your business interests. Two of his sons are currently directors at Mashwede Holdings. This has the desired effect of leaving a lasting legacy.

You often hear emphasises on investing in real estate. Mr Mashamhanda has always urged business people to invest in or purchase immovable properties. This refers to things like buildings or land – that is a sure way to make sure wealth. Mr Mashamhanda is also a huge proponent of being a person of integrity. Integrity is steadfast adherence to a strict moral or ethical code.

In his own words he says, ‘In business, one has to be honest. You have to be honest with yourself first, honest with your finances, your clients and with whoever you do business with’. Mr Mashamhanda is an inspirational example of how it is possible to start from humble beginnings and make it in business. He is also an example of longevity is possible in business – he has been thriving in the business since the 90s. Certainly, there is so much to learn from him.