In this article, I want to discuss middlemen business ideas applicable locally. This is one of those businesses that require one to be witty in coming up with a smart business with very little investment into physical infrastructure. Every industry is characterised by varying business relationships on various levels. The supply and value chain of any business entails such relationships. There are always challenges that can be encountered in servicing those relationships. That is where middlemen can come in to be the answer and make money in the process. I am referring to a brokerage type of business ideas.
What Is A Middleman?
Excuse the somewhat gender insensitive term but it refers to both men and women. After all, in some cases, it refers to entities, not individuals. Anyways, a middleman is an individual or an entity that streamlines the link between a producer, source or supplier and the consumer. Streamlining can be done in various ways but the common one is the middleman buying something from the source and in turn, reselling it to the consumer. There is more however and this makes ways middlemen make money broad and diverse.
We already have physical marketplaces in Zimbabwe, lots of them. These are your typical produce markets (e.g. Mbare), flea markets and the like. These are easily accessible and middleman might not always be necessary because consumers can visit them in person. Think of that from a virtual standpoint – an online marketplace. It can be a website, a Facebook page, or a WhatsApp group but the idea will be to create a meeting place for both suppliers and consumers. Like I said earlier how you will streamline the linkage is up to your discretion.
There is a lot of construction, farming, mining, and general business activity nowadays. Be that as it may so many people struggle to either own personal transport for carrying cargo or accessing transport they can hire. I am yet to see people enterprising enough to commercialize the “malayitsha” business model and applying it to virtually any industry. That is a business I believe wields vast potential i.e. linking those with cargo needing transport and those with the transport. It is a great business idea in that it does not cost much. Imagine setting up a vehicle rental and hire business without actually owning any vehicles. That is how you must think when approaching business in this domain.
Unemployment is one of the topical issues in Zimbabwe. As much as it is a real issue affecting the nation I feel that some jobs are not just being easily discovered. What I mean is that a gap may exist between qualified prospective employees and their prospective employers. How about you set up a recruitment agency that seeks to bridge that gap? In principle, job seekers can come to you and employers come to you and match make as it were. There are so many ways you can do this and make lots of money. Earlier I spoke about an online marketplace; think of this being an online marketplace for jobs. Notice I mentioned the online element because I believe it is a key to success. There are some businesses already operating in this space but there is room for more and improvements too.
Basic Consumer Products
Later on, in conclusion, I will briefly touch on the major types of middlemen. You will notice there is a type of a middleman called a merchant. These are middlemen that source products from producers or suppliers and make them available to consumers. You probably can already see that we are dealing with businesses such as wholesalers or retailers. This is a business idea that is always relevant in Zimbabwe – especially if you can enter the market with cheaper products.
This is a huge thing globally now with e-commerce titans such as Amazon which have dedicated affiliate marketing programs. Affiliate marketing is essentially when someone advertises some other brand’s products on their behalf as it were. For instance, one can incorporate referral links on their internet or social media platforms that advertise and redirect prospective consumers to another brand. You can develop and run an Amazon affiliate website as a business. It does take lots of work and consistency to come up with content that attracts people to the website. The crux will be to hopefully get them to click on the Amazon links and ultimately buy after which you earn commissions. However, do not just think of Amazon, affiliate marketing works in so many ways both online and offline.
Business Financing Brokerage
So many people locally are looking to start businesses or are running businesses. Most of them face financial challenges – the single biggest menace of most businesses. You can start a business where you link up prospective investors or financiers to those seeking funding. You probably might have never thought of it but it is a potentially lucrative business.
So these are some of the middleman business ideas one can explore locally. Just for your benefit, there are 3 major types of middlemen. They are merchants, facilitators and agents. Facilitators simply facilitate the movement of products from the source/supplier/producer to the consumer, just that. Merchants assume ownership of the products and resell them to the consumer – a common example is a retailer. Agents major on assisting the source/supplier/producer in consumer identification; even assisting in discussions to reach working agreements.