Leroy Dzenga Features Writer
Fredrick Toendepi is not an ordinary 25-year-old. He is a young person who believes in taking an active part in serious economic activities, especially in agriculture.
At his age, he proudly holds 50 percent shares in their family business, Nightridge Ventures (Private) Limited.
If he had taken the easy path, Toendepi would have slid into the company system like many who are born into families that run small-scale enterprises.
In his description of the business he jointly owns, Toendepi said; “Nightridge Ventures handles export operations for domestic companies that want to sell their products overseas, but doesn’t know how (and perhaps doesn’t want to know how). The Nightridge Ventures does it all — hiring dealers, distributors and representatives; handling advertising, marketing and promotions; overseeing marking and packaging; arranging to ship.”
An Internet light bulb hit Toendepi in 2014 when he was surfing leisurely.
“In 2014, I came across Chinese online retailer Alibaba. The business model and how they exploit the global market impressed me. A few days later I made my first online purchase of 40 pairs of ladies shoes for resale. From that time the desire to grow in export and import business began to develop in me.
“I researched more about the business. A few months down the line I was helping manufacturing companies, retail shops and individuals to import from China and later other countries,” he said.
In February 2017, he brought the export dimension to their family business which had been focusing mainly on imports since 2007.
“We help farmers export edible nuts, ground nuts and macadamia. We have helped about 15 clients to date, averaging five tonnes, most of them come from areas like Gokwe and Chipinge,” Toendepi said.
Their entry into the international trading space has brought lessons to the marketing management major.
“In 2016, I realised that Zimbabwean products have huge markets in the SADC, COMESA as well as the EU. Exporting has better revenue once you are established. The initial stages are difficult, but worth trying. Exports are key in bringing much-needed foreign currency,” Toendepi said.
He argues, Government has a role to play in ensuring that import and export markets grow.
“Foreign markets are highly competitive and demand products that meet global standards. Because of that, it is expensive to start exporting. It would help if the Government is involved in capacitating young exporters with skills and loans. We acknowledge how ZimTrade is trying,” he said.
He added; “Foreign currency is a challenge and the process of registering a company is too long and expensive. The Government should make it possible for one to register (a company) online from anywhere in the world.”
Toendepi also suggests that SMEs need tax incentives and tax breaks.
Currently, their company employs 10 permanent staffers.