It’s estimated that Zimbabweans in the diaspora number roughly 5 million. Considering that the current Zimbabwean population is approximately 17 million that’s quite a huge number. The majority of Zimbabweans in the diaspora are working class and earn varying amounts of income be it from being employed or being employers. Thus, it’s proper to assume that most of them possess buying power in some shape or form. The thrust of any business is to carve out a niche and bolster its customer base. Essentially, this means that fellow Zimbabweans in the diaspora are also a market that can be tapped into. In this article, I’m discussing some types of businesses that target Zimbabweans in the diaspora.
We have seen the sprouting of businesses that are bridging the gap between diasporans and their loved ones back home. In principle, they provide platforms for diasporans to order and pay for foodstuffs or other services that get sourced and delivered locally to their loved ones. One example is Zimbuyer who enable diasporans to pay for bills, mobile recharges and groceries for their local loved ones. Payments are made via Paypal, VISA or Mastercard whilst delivery time ranges from 24 to 48 hours. Fresh In A Box is another example of a business that taps into the diaspora by affording them the service of paying for fresh vegetables to be delivered to their loved ones back here.
Food Catering Services
So it’s quite common for Zimbabweans in the diaspora to yearn for native dishes when they are out there. Some people have jumped onto this by creating food catering outlets in the diaspora that serve local delicacies e.g. sadza, traditional dishes and so on. This is quite common in SA and other parts of the sub-Saharan region where transporting the needed ingredients from here isn’t a big hassle.
Brokerage businesses are quite diversified with the operating model being to serve as a middle person. These are businesses that facilitate the importation of goods from the diaspora. Clearing agencies are the most common who earn money by easing the logistical and clearance burden that diasporans might face in trying to send, particularly cars, to recipients here.
Zimbabweans in the diaspora still closely follow local developments in the music industry and as such, they always welcome performances from local musicians. That’s why most music promoters arrange gigs or live shows in other countries to tap into the diaspora. Most popular musicians (including the late Tuku) make a lot of money from performing for the Zimbabweans in the diaspora.
Lots of Zimbabweans pass away whilst being in the diaspora and often times need to be ferried back here for burial. This is where funeral service providers can tap into the diaspora. Interestingly, most instances when there is a need for repatriation of a body the funeral service providers from host countries actually do the work. An example that comes to mind is Kings and Queens, a funeral service provider based in SA. However, we do have local players such as Nyaradzo Funeral Services which provides diasporans with very good repatriation packages.
Diasporans will periodically need to travel back here to visit, for vacations or business. Most travel agencies actually provide packages for Zimbabweans in the diaspora to have a seamless journey and stay here. I’ll cite an interesting example of a company called Diaspora Car Hire which was established last year. They provide Zimbabweans in the diaspora with car hire services when they travel back from airport pickups to long-term car hire arrangements. They charge US$25 per day which charges subject to review if the hire will be for a significant period of time. Diasporans can actually book and even make payments via their website.
International Remittance Services
Did you know that Zimbabweans in the diaspora send money here worth at least US$1 billion annually? This is why we now have companies being actively involved in facilitating such transactions. Companies like Steward Bank and Ecocash are leveraging on the World Remit platform to facilitate the sending of money here by diasporans.
Many Zimbabweans in the diaspora buy and send physical items back here. This is where businesses that offer courier services come in. Companies like FedEx or DHL are some of the biggest players in courier services. Just worthy of mention also are the informal courier service providers popularly known as the Malaichas. Most of the operations are controversial as they involve cheating the customs systems – though some operate legally. I remember some time back there was chatter about the government contemplating licensing Malaichas. Considering that lots of Zimbabweans in South Africa or other Southern African countries send items back home, these informal couriers can be formalized to make it an official business.
I believe it’s apparent from my discussion that there are many business opportunities with regards to diasporans. Remember I talked of in-bound retailing; out-bound retailing can also be a lucrative business as Zimbabweans out there often times look for exclusively home-grown products. So those who are enterprising enough can also live off this huge market of Zimbabweans in the diaspora.