Name: Nation Takudzwa Dumba
Title: Founder, Managing Director
Company: Roll Construction Pvt Ltd
Years in business: 1 year and 7 months
Business location: Harare, Zimbabwe
Number of employees: 7 permanent and others according to demand and on contract terms
Products: All construction works (bricklaying, plumbing, electrical, tiling, roofing, durawalls, driveways, painting etc) and supply building materials like bricks, sands, stones, timber etc
StartupBiz Zimbabwe: Tell us your name and tell us about your business
Mr Dumba: Thank you Menard for having me on this platform which gives us the so called SMEs a chance to tell our stories and I would like to say keep up the good work. Well, my name is Nation Takudzwa Dumba and I’m in the construction sector of the economy. I am the founder and Managing Director of Roll Construction Pvt Ltd.
StartupBiz Zimbabwe: What led you to start your own business?
Mr Dumba: Although this might sound controversial, I believe I was born an entrepreneur, to quote from the bible if I may: Jeremiah 1v5 part c says “I appointed you to be an entrepreneur to the nations”, I have replaced prophet with entrepreneur. Others might say unemployment and so forth, though that is true to them, but as for me, I was born an entrepreneur. I guess also growing up watching my father who was also a businessman, though I was small, also had an influence on me. As I was growing up I just could not see myself working for someone.
StartupBiz Zimbabwe: How did you get started in this business? How did you raise the startup capital?
Mr Dumba: After trying unsuccessfully to get the so called government funding facilities to no avail i.e. being shoved from office to office, fillings forms after forms and ending up in some offices in Goromonzi following these so called loans, I gave up and decided to start small with the $8 I had, and a borrowed Delta crate from a friend and a neighbours fridge. I went to the Graniteside Industrial area (in Harare), searched for a perfect spot and every lunch hour I would go there and sell drinks until I ended up selling 5 to 6 crates a day. From this business, I managed to raise $56 to apply for my passport and at the same time joined $50 weekly rounds with some partners (Editor’s note: Weekly rounds, meaning that if we are 10 in the partnership, in Week 1 each individual gives let’s say person A $50, thus person A will get $450, then Week 2 we all give person B and so on. This is very common and popular in Zimbabwe). When my turn came to receive the round I became a cross boarder and those same customers who bought drinks from me became my electrical and clothing business customers. I even ended up wholesaling those Delta drinks from my home; imagine receiving 200 crates after every 2 days all from the $8 I started with. I also ventured into tobacco farming until I found my home in the construction sector.
StartupBiz Zimbabwe: That is very inspiring. So why did you decide to go to into construction industry?
Mr Dumba: Well! According to me in this economy I see only four sectors namely Agriculture, Mining, Manufacturing and the Service sector in which Construction falls under. Though I had other various small businesses, I needed to get into one which would
(1)Make an impact on the economy of this country
(2)Sustain me for a lifetime
(3)Be a generational business i.e. a business I would leave behind for my children and their children also.
So I studied these four sectors carefully till I noticed advantages of going into the construction industry namely
(1)It required low capital to commence unlike other sectors
(2)It’s the industry of the future in Zimbabwe, in fact most of Southern Africa, we haven’t yet started building.
And also other reasons I can not elaborate on right now.
The only set back was that I had to take time to really learn about this industry and I had to work for some organisations for a number of years, not mainly for the wage but learning this trade. Though the work at first was painful, I knew what I wanted and I also discovered that I had a passion for building beautiful structures so I ended up enjoying being at the site always. And also my father in law is a contractor of high reputation in this industry. Seeing the work he did had a large influence on my decision to go into the construction industry.
StartupBiz Zimbabwe: What are some of the challenges you face in the construction sector? And how do you overcome some of the challenges?
Mr Dumba: Personally the main challenge I’m facing in this sector is acceptance mainly because of my age, I’m only 31 and most of the clients whom I meet with for the first time when they look at me, they doubt that this young guy can actually tackle their project. But thank God, our success rate in clinching these contracts has been above 50 percent mainly because of the excellent service we would have provided to the person who would have referred the customer to us, as they say “If you offer a good service, you would have actually employed a sales person for yourself whom you don’t even have to pay”. Actually most of our clients come through referrals and we retain most of our customers. kkkkk I have actually let my beard grow so that when I meet clients I look older.
Another challenge we are facing is of tenders, so far I haven’t won any yet maybe it’s because Roll construction is still young, as it is only 1 and a half years old but we will keep on trying to get the tenders. I wouldn’t mention funding as a challenge because I already learned that no one will ever lend you money.
StartupBiz Zimbabwe: How do you market your business? How do you find new customers? What do you do to make sure they become return customers?
Mr Dumba: On the marketing aspect, technology actually helps a lot. We advertise mainly on Facebook and lately on the Whatsapp business groups platforms. Sometimes we also distribute flyers, and newspaper adverts actually helps us a lot. But the best way to market yourself is to offer excellent service to your clients and if you do that they actual return to you and will also refer more clients to you. Good communication skills are a requirement in business; you should make your clients feel extremely valued. At Roll Construction we strive very much to exceed our client’s expectations. Don’t be more concerned with the money, be concerned with the service you are offering to your clients and money will follow you easily and abundantly.
StartupBiz Zimbabwe: How supportive is the government to small businesses? What should the government do more of to support small businesses?
Mr Dumba: The Government has tried its best to support small businesses by coming up with funding programmes that are meant for the small businesses but a lot still needs to be done in terms of good administration of these funds. Also they have to increase this financial support because small businesses are the future of the Zimbabwe industry, the amounts being availed at the moment are too little, just a drop in the ocean. Another issue the authorities have to look into is that of the reserved sectors of the economy for locals, the government is not being clear on this issue, we have to have some sectors of this economy to be reserved for locals, mainly the retail sector and even the construction sector and some other sectors. One cannot just come all the way from a certain country to build a structure here yet we have the most skilled personnel here in Zimbabwe, in fact the best in Africa, without sanctions and corruption maybe the best in the world. But overall, the government is trying its best to support small businesses but they have to deal with the abuse of those funds and try to increase the funding to try to cover a lot of businesses.
StartupBiz Zimbabwe: What advice would you give to others who are planning to go into business in the construction sector?
Mr Dumba: Ok to those who are planning to join the construction industry I would advise you first to sit down and ask yourself if you have passion for this work. It’s not about the financial rewards but you have to go for something which you really love and if construction is your area, do you have knowledge of the work? If you have then well, go for it, it’s a rewarding sector if you play your cards right. If you have no knowledge or skill of this work I will advise you to give yourself time to learn probably by internship or by actually going to training centres all over the country to learn. Personally I don’t believe you can actual run a construction company if you don’t know how to read a plan, lay a brick, construct a truss etc. Though others might say you delegate, but still you have to know what’s going on, otherwise kkkkkkk you will get beaten up by clients basa rakanganiswa (after you had done a bad job for the clients). Overall, it’s a good sector with a lot of potential as people will always build and it does not require much capital to get into as you can always start small and grow; it only requires your knowledge.
StartupBiz Zimbabwe: Where do you see your business in 5 years time?
Mr Dumba: In five years time obviously Roll Construction would be a household name, constructor of choice for the majority of Zimbabweans. We will be doing projects all over Zimbabwe and probably expanding into Southern Africa. I was stunned by one of my mentors in this industry who recently clinched a contract to construct a mega airport in South America. So by God’s grace there are no limitations in this industry and I know all our goals are achievable.
StartupBiz Zimbabwe: Tell us more about your business, what exactly you do in the construction sector, the services and products you offer, and how can our readers get in touch with you if they want your services and products
Mr Dumba: Well, anything to do with construction we do i.e. the whole construction package e.g. bricklaying, plumbing, electrical, tiling, roofing, durawalls, driveways, painting etc be it a new structure, renovations, maintenance etc. We also supply building materials like bricks, sands, stones, timber and we also help with plan drawing and approval, bill of quantities or if it is professional advice you need about construction we do that. We strive to make construction more enjoyable, stress free for our valued clients so we try to offer everything under one roof. We are also very excellent project managers. Currently we have moved from the CBD where we were operating from because of rental, parking and space issues and by the 1st of March we will be at 10322 Boshof Drive, Graniteside next to Nzuma Vehicle Bars, a more conducive environment for us and our clients. For the meantime you can reach me via my mobile number +263 773 395 138 or email me at email@example.com
StartupBiz Zimbabwe: What are your last words to our readers, including your advice to all entrepreneurs in Zimbabwe
Mr Dumba: Let’s not keep singing this chorus: the economy is not conducive for business, the economy is bad and so forth blah blah. My question to you is what is the economy? You are the economy! It is only a matter of having the right state of mind and even if the so called economy is conducive no one will ever bring a sack of money at your doorstep and announce to you that the economy is now good, enjoy, that will never happen. We have to be innovative as entrepreneurs i.e. lets find a way around these challenges as business people. Whilst you are crying like this, some are enjoying this situation. It is only a matter of having the right state of mind in a particular situation. Personally I know that Zimbabwe is a blessed country, the easiest place to make money, go to any country you may think of and bring anything back here to sell and you will make money. Anyway after everything is said and done it’s only by the grace of the almighty God that you can make it without him you go nowhere.
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