Oliver Kazunga, Senior Business Reporter
WHAT started as a business conversation sometime in 2010 by two people who had not known each other before, has been nurtured and developed into one of the successful engineering companies in Bulawayo.
The young firm is operating from rented premises at the Clothing Industry and Pension Fund (CIPF) complex along Khami Road, owned by Mr David Mwatseteza and his counterpart, Mrs Charity Mudhubiwa (33).
Running under the trade name Whitesite Engineering the firm manufactures products such as gears, rollers, shafts, cup-washers, bolts, couplings, reconditioning casings foundation bolts, tappets, axle brackets, heads, and gib keys.
General engineering equipment spares are produced as per customer’s order for mining, agricultural, and industrial companies.
In an interview, Mrs Mudhubiwa explained how their company, which now employs about 15 permanent and five casual workers, was formed.
“I met Mr Mwatseteza together with his workmate sometime in 2010 when they offered me a lift. They were just discussing business and I joined in their conversation and I was like ‘you guys’, ‘you have got potential of making your own money’ and I offered myself to help them start-up something.
“So, from there we started our conversation until we formed Whitesite Engineering that you now see today,” recalled Mrs Mudhubiwa who is the administrator at Whitesite Engineering.
The engineering firm was to be formed in 2011 with less than five workers.
Mrs Mudhubiwa said she noted that it was necessary for them to have something to fall back on when they retire.
Whitesite Engineering started from humble beginnings with Mrs Mudhubiwa communicating with prospective customers from her house until inquiries about their products started growing.
She said their first office, where they operated from for a year before securing a workshop along Plumtree Road, was in the Central Business District between 8th and 9th Avenues along Josiah Tongogara Street.
During that time they bought one machine and that marked a turning point and the crew then required a workshop to work from.
As time went on, Mrs Mudhubiwa said they bought several additional equipment such as machining machinery for their plant, which they sourced from some firms that were closing down in Bulawayo.
“At that time, we also got a big contract with Chinese contractors from Bindura and later on we thought we needed premises because of the type of work we do and we were also sub-contracting here and there to other companies that were already well-established.
“It was like whenever we get a gear we would take it there until we managed to register ourselves with the likes of Blanket Mine giving us very small things to work on,” said Mrs Mudhubiwa, a holder of a Degree in African Languages and Culture from the Midlands State University.
She also holds a Diploma in Executive General Management and another Diploma in Environmental Health and Safety Management as well as other qualifications in payroll management.
Mr Mwatseteza, a former engineering manager with Nimr & Chapman with over 35 years of experience in engineering, injected his money from retirement into Whitesite Engineering.
Mrs Mudhubiwa said the company was also kept going from the funding that they got from the businesses their company was doing.
Plans are afoot to expand Whitesite Engineering market share into the region and international market.
Locally, the general engineering company supplies components to industries and mines such as Triangle Limited, Hippo Valley, How Mine and Blanket Mine, among others.
Taking into an account how they met, she said it was also possible for potential entrepreneurs to partner and establish a company of their own.
“I am sure anything is possible, if you are socially healthy and obviously if you have got ideas in your head.
“It depends on who you are talking to and the way we met can work for anyone but, it is also dependent on what you are offering in terms of skills and ideas, as well as a shared vision,” she said.
Asked about company registration in Zimbabwe, she said:
“I would want to say registering a company in Zimbabwe is not a challenge. And when you are registering a company obviously you should have an idea of what you want to do and also it should be something that you know it is not going to be affected mostly by competition.
“I encourage people to venture into businesses that they know it is going to be sustainable over a life time. Business is something that goes the same way life takes (stages of growth).”