by Shadreck Maririmba
December 1 2018 – IT HAS not been all gloom and doom for Zimbabweans in SA with some of the innovative having carved niches for themselves in the sometimes harsh Mzansi economic environment, by choosing to start their own businesses than looking for jobs.
Zimbabweans in SA seem to be fast abandoning the idea of being employees largely either because of their legal status or the growing numbers of unemployment that has even pushed South Africans themselves out of the job market, shedding the stereotypes that they are workers compared to other nationalities such as Nigerians, Somalians and Pakistanis who are known as entrprenuers.
One such Zimbabwean is Christopher who despite having entered the country border illegally in search of green pastures , is now making a living not through a formal job but business.
Realising he could not get a job without being legal he has made inroads in establishing a motor mechanical workshop and his skills have earned him respect among South Africans.
“I jumped the border with nothing and you know how tough it is in a foreign land with no papers. I was not only once by the police and bundled into their van for having no proper documentation. Life here has been tough as I worked my way through the streets of Johannesburg but now I own my workshop” said the auto electrician.
“Christopher said he started standing by the robots with a placard written Auto electrician and this is how he got clients who now frequent his workshop. I used to offer my services for a few Rands enough only for food because if you are expensive you dont get clients. I was exploited and used for no reward by certain individuals but going back to Zimbabwe was worse so I soldiered on.”
Now Christopher prides himself in owning his Auto Electric shop in Rosenttenville in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Israel Danga who migrated early 2000 is now doing well in his recycling business in Witbank.
Danga, Zimbabweans started using their skills to make a living, after facing the reality that Zimbabwe has gone dry economically. Employment is no longer easy to get so over the years we created our own source of income.
His recycling business has helped him employ more than twenty people among them fellow Zimbabweans.
“I came here and worked as an administrator for a certain Security company, it wasn’t easy because as a foreigner most employers took advantage of our desperation. Even now most fellow Zimbabweans are taken advantage of because everyone knows that Zimbabweans are in desperate need of any survival opportunity they came across with. I formalized my business and now I got a registered company and I am happy. I wish to open another branch back home but political and economic situation there is not yet conducive, says Danga.
Its not only the men but Zimbabwean women too.
In Middelburg, Sophia (not real name) and her fellow friends contributed money and opened a saloon. ‘I was a maid from 2004 to 2011 and all that time I had abandoned my profession as a primary school teacher because i was an illegal migrant so I humbled myself to work in any environment,” says Sophia.
Formal employment as a foreigner without a work permit is a pipeline dream here so the only option is to start your own business which we did. To be honest the company is doing well and we are hiring hairdressers most often to meet the demand.
From security companies, engineering, printing, accounting to education Zimbabweans have penetrated the South African market giving themselves a chance to compete with locals.
Some who preferred not to be named have dominated the South African education system by running tertiary colleges offering business and engineering courses.
Simba (not real name) who preferred anonymity said South Africa has helped most Zimbabwean teachers for they are the ones who have opened these private colleges.
” I am a qualified mathematics teacher having graduated from Mutare Teachers College but after I crossed to South Africa and I saw an opportunity of opening a college and as you can see I have fellow Zimbabwean teachers here making the college a force to reckon with” added Simba.
According to Simba the key was to register and have proper papers in line with governments rules and procedure for one to operate a successful company. – ZimsInSA reporter