At the age of 30, Cheurombo Pswarayi was already raking up accolades having been voted among the Top 20 Outstanding Women of the Year Megafest Awards in 2015.
Her citation was mainly for entrepreneurial excellence. Last year, she again won the African Women’s Award (AWA) for the Most Dynamic Start-Up. Now this “serial entrepreneur”, who is the founder and managing director of CJV and MedTours, is angling for the regional market.
MedTours, a company that facilities medical tourism to India, has proved to be particularly popular with the local market. Last week, The Sunday Mail Business reporter livingstone marufu sat down with her to get an appreciation of her milestones and vision going forward.
Q: The local economic environment is admittedly tough and some big businesses are actually folding. This obviously must be difficult for emerging business. But, as a woman in business, what challenges do you currently face?
A: There are patriarchal prejudices on what women can do in business and how they should do it.
It also takes more effort for us to be recognised as serious business people than our male counterparts.
You have to do more and achieve more than your male counterpart for you to be given the same respect.
Q: What kind of businesses are you involved in?
A: MedTours Africa provides medical tourists in the sub-Saharan region a one-stop shop for all their medical travel services and logistics.
It actually lessens the burden on care-givers by giving them the much-needed assistance of taking care of all travel and medical treatment logistics for their loved ones. Giving them time and space to be with their loved ones without having to worry about the technicalities of getting them from point A to Point B to get the medical attention they require. . . .
Our business mainly operates online and gives superior accessibility and affords us financial flexibility by cutting down on overhead costs to offer services that are affordable and accessible to all. In essence, the business facilitates access to accredited international hospital partners for medical procedures, visa and air ticket facilitation, including accommodation for the patient and travel partner.
Q: But how many people have benefited from such services so far?
A: We process an average number of 30 requests for quotations a month.
Each enquiry results in a free medical opinion from a foreign specialist and a quotation on a proposed treatment plan.
This means that even though the patients might decide not to travel, our services have enabled them to get a second opinion.
This year, ten patients have travelled using our facilitation services and we have had ten success stories.
We will be launching a YouTube channel soon.
Q: What other businesses are you involved in?
A: Well, CJV supplies medical consumables and sundries, while a new baby recently added to the portfolio — Paper Stocks — manufactures toilet paper.
Q: Do you think emerging business need any assistance, if any, from the Government.
A: There is need for a national platform that promotes women-owned businesses.
Let us have corporates committing to having such businesses as their vendors and service providers.
Assist us with access to markets, nationally and internationally.
Government should facilitate for women to have equal and unbiased audience at top level tiers.
Skills training and development seminars targeted at women entrepreneurs could also help.
Q: As a young woman entrepreneur, what are your priorities and plans going forward?
A: Currently, I am focusing on growing the business both nationally and regionally. The services we offer at MedTours Africa are in high demand and there is need to become visible and accessible.
Starting this May, the company is embarking on an aggressive marketing campaign to ensure that we are known. We are also exploring Mozambique and Swaziland as new markets and have already started doing the ground work with initial meetings having been done.
I am really excited by this regional expansion prospect.
We would also want to start to actively import patients into the country and to market Zimbabwe as a medical tourism destination.
Regionally, we are strategically positioned as a nation and the expertise within our borders makes us a very competitive country.
The plan is to work closely with those within the medical fraternity and expose the facilities and skills that already exist but might not be known.
Q: Are there any new business ventures that are in the offing?
A: I admit, I am a serial entrepreneur. The plan this year had been to tone down and concentrate on the existing three companies, but I am teaming up with a few friends and colleagues to set up a diagnostic centre on the outskirts of Harare.
It is very much in the initial stages of planning but I can assure you that by the end of the year there will be a foundation being set up for a state-of-the-art diagnostic centre.
My involvement will not be as intense as it is for MedTours Africa because there are quite a number of stakeholders who will be involved.
Q: What achievements have you recorded as a businesswoman so far?
A: I was in the Top 20 Outstanding Women of the Year Megafest Awards in 2015. I received a special recognition for entrepreneurial excellence.
In 2016, I won the African Women’s Award (AWA) for the Most Dynamic Start-Up.
It’s an amazing feeling winning an award and being recognised for the work you have done. To know my efforts are acknowledged inspires me to continue with the hard work that I have always put into my businesses.
I thank God each day for the business partners and the team who, in no small way, make MedTours Africa what it is today.