Name: Hartley Simbarashe Gweshe
Company name: Okatoie Safaris & Tours
Products/Services: Hunting safaris, Photographic safaris, Safari trainings, Game walks, Nature trips for schools
Years in Business: 10
Business Location: Hwange
Number of employees: 6
Phone number: +263773786633/+263733174529
Tell us your name, tell us about your business and where you operating from.
Hartley Simbarashe Gweshe: My name is Hartley Simbarashe Gweshe. I’m based in Hwange, Matabeleland North Province. We operate some Safari business with my cousin brother Wisdom Bushe Neshavi. We operate from a 20 000ha safari block. We do safari related trainings e.g. Game Scout Training.
What led you to start that business? Why did you decide to be an entrepreneur in a white dominated industry?
Hartley Simbarashe Gweshe: I had a passion about nature since childhood and was inspired by a Whiteman who did some wildlife and environment management. He is a Zimbabwean born biologist based in the States, he is the Pioneer of Holistic management.
Tell us how you got started in the safari business, and how you raised the start-up capital?
Hartley Simbarashe Gweshe: It was in 2004 when I got my first training as a Safari Ranger, then got employed by the same Institute that trained me. We did some different safari projects for communities and was also involved in the training sector. After that I went on to manage a family safari farm of which I had to introduce some activities which I experienced from my previous employer. My cousin did some Tourism Management training then we decided to bring together our knowledge and build a strong team. Thus the programme we do for people in the community and other area. We try to help people by training them so that they get some employment in the industry.
What did you consider when you partnered your cousin in the business?
Hartley Simbarashe Gweshe: We shared the same interest of business and I considered his experience in the industry too.
How do you market your business? How do you find new customers? What do you do to make sure they become repeat customers?
Hartley Simbarashe Gweshe: We have a list of customers we met during our previous employers, and we keep records of every customer who comes. Our regular clients are given some discounts if they bring more clients. Locally we use flyers and word of mouth as we go. Some marketing are done on social media e.g Facebook and WhatsApp.
What are some of the challenges you face in the safari business? How do you overcome some of the challenges?
Hartley Simbarashe Gweshe: Political issues is the worst challenge so far. Though some time we face clients leaving without settling their bills. Mostly clients who leave without total payment would have left their safari trophies behind, therefore we will be left with no choice than to sell them.
Is the government supportive of the safari business? What can the government do to increase support of the sector and reduce the political/country risk?
Hartley Simbarashe Gweshe: The only way government can do is to support the industry by investments and loan facilities.
What role does technology play in your business?
Hartley Simbarashe Gweshe: So far technology has helped in such a way that it’s now easy to market our services and it’s now quick to process other paperwork and banking is now done easily.
Where do you see your business in five years time?
Hartley Simbarashe Gweshe: Looking at the positive economic turnaround we see ourselves as the best Zimbabwean Safari training centre. It’s an uphill task though, it needs careful strategic planning and positioning.
What advice would you give to entrepreneurs who want to venture into the Safari business?
Hartley Simbarashe Gweshe: Seek your market first, and always have competitive prices for your products.
What products and services do you offer, and how can our readers get in touch with you if they want your services and products?
Hartley Simbarashe Gweshe:
- Hunting safaris
- Photographic safaris
- Safari trainings
- Game walks
- Nature trips for schools
Phone number: +263773786633/+263733174529
What’s your advice to the thousands of unemployed graduates in Zimbabwe who are complaining about lack of jobs?
Hartley Simbarashe Gweshe: Don’t wait for employment, make use of your knowledge and be an employer. Jobs will never be enough for every Zimbabwean. Keep your hands and mind-set busy.
What are your last words to our readers, and advice to all entrepreneurs in Zimbabwe?
Hartley Simbarashe Gweshe: Let’s not lose hope in everything we put foundation on, nothing comes up easily. Together in Zimbabwe we can achieve our goals.
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