Big business is all about acquisition and disposals, mergers and demergers, and a whole lot more. There are a number of Zimbabwean businesses which have seen it all. Today, these companies continue to create a visible footprint not only in the country but across our borders. In this article, we look at a few such companies in brief.
Innscor Africa Limited
The history of Innscor Africa Limited dates back to 1987 when they first opened their first Quick Service Restaurant (QSR) in Harare. This was to be the start of a massive fast food empire. However, Innscor Africa Limited ventured into many other businesses along the way. In 1993, they opened Distribution Group Africa (DGA) and started securing international agencies. In 1998, Innscor Africa Limited went into Zambia, Ghana, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and Mozambique opening QSR outlets Chicken Inn, Pizza Inn, Creamy Inn and Bakers Inn. They acquired a bread making plant in Harare in 1995. Through a deal with Exxon Mobil in 2000, it was agreed that Innscor branded QSR outlets would be opened in Exxon Mobil forecourts across Africa. Two years later, such outlets were opened in Nigeria and Senegal increasing the company’s footprint in Africa. Franchised QSR outlets opened in Malawi and Angola.
By 2005, Innscor Africa Limited had increased its QSR footprint into 12 African countries, 7 company owned and 5 franchised. Having also acquired SPAR Eastern Region in 1999, Innscor opened 2 SPAR stores in Lusaka and Livingstone. In 2007, franchised QSR outlets continued to open in Swaziland and Lesotho. A lot more has happened after that but the most notable event is the unbundling of the QSR operations in 2015. Now they are separately listed on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange (ZSE) under Simbisa Brands Limited. Currently, Simbisa Brands Limited has a footprint of 193 counters in Zimbabwe and 205 abroad. Notable acquisitions under Innscor Africa Limited include automotive retail business, Transerv, Colcom, Probrands and Profeeds. The empire continues to grow both locally and abroad.
Founded in 1993 by Strive Masiyiwa, Econet is a diversified telecommunications company with operations in Africa, Europe, North and South America and East Asia. Econet also has investments outside the traditional telecommunications industry which include insurance, e-commerce, financial services, renewable energy, payment gateway solutions, Coca Cola bottling, hospitality and education. In the last week, Econet witnessed the historic completion of the Cape to Cairo high speed fibre network by Liquid Telecom, a subsidiary of Cassava Smartech. This network runs a land-based cable across 13 countries linking over 660 cities and towns. In a Facebook post, Strive Masiyiwa says,” Our next task is to expand to West Africa, we’re working on our trans Sahara route, running from Sudan through Chad and Cameroon to Abuja, Nigeria. This is already at the border of Cameroon and Nigeria. We should cross into Nigeria before the end of January…This is our mission for 2019. In 2020, we want to spin around all the way back to Cairo.” Without touching on a lot of their companies, Econet’s Kwese TV also deserves mention. It has footprint in more than 10 African countries including Zambia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Zambia, Uganda and Botswana. The Econet footprint is widespread and it continues to grow.
TA Holdings is a Zimbabwean based investment holdings company formed in 1997. It has interests in the hospitality, insurance, agrochemical, asset management and distribution industries. In Zimbabwe, the company has several investments in Zimbabwe Fertilizer Company (ZFC) Limited, Sable Chemicals, Cresta Hospitality (including Botswana), Zimnat Lion and Zimnat Life Assurance Company Limited, Sovereign Health and many others. The company has investments in eight insurance companies, six in Zimbabwe and one each in Botswana (Botswana Insurance Company) and Uganda. The company also has companies in South Africa and Nigeria.
The Nyaradzo Group started its operations in 2001. They run Nyaradzo Life Assurance Company, Nyaradzo Funeral Services, Eureka Insurance, Calundike Exports and Sahwira Events. Nyaradzo enjoys an estimated 70% market share in the funeral assurance business locally. Abroad, they are just starting to cement their presence. They are in South Africa and the United Kingdom (UK). This is based on the realisation that more than 4 million Zimbabweans currently live abroad and the majority of these are in South Africa and UK. There is no doubt that Nyaradzo Groups presence abroad is set to increase as economic problems continue to push more people out of Zimbabwe in search of greener pastures.
There are many other companies which have a footprint abroad and as the economic situation continues to worsen, they may be forced to solidify their presence abroad in order to increase their foreign currency earnings. The successes and failures of such companies is a topic for another day.