Simbarashe Mhuriro is the founder and MD of Oxygen Africa, a Zimbabwean renewable energy development company focused on commercial and industrial rooftop solar photovoltaic projects, with interests in precious metals, ICT and agriculture.
1. Tell us about one of the toughest situations you’ve found yourself in as a business owner.
We are dealing with situations whereby counterparties to agreements behave in an unethical manner and negotiate in bad faith. We are still working on how we will overcome this challenge.
2. Which business achievement are you most proud of?
Three things, really, that happened in 2018: becoming a member of the World Economic Forum’s Global Future Council on Entrepreneurship for 2018-2019 and the Shared Value Africa Initiative’s Africa Council of 8. We also got a letter of recognition from the UN Climate Change secretariat’s Momentum for Change initiative.
Momentum for Change is an initiative spearheaded by the UN Climate Change secretariat to shine a light on the enormous groundswell of activities underway across the globe that are moving the world toward a highly resilient, low-carbon future. Momentum for Change recognises innovative and transformative solutions that address both climate change and wider economic, social and environmental challenges.
3. Describe your greatest weakness as an entrepreneur.
I am impatient at times, so I usually turn to my two partners for wisdom and guidance. The youngest is 18 years older than me, so between them they have seen and experienced a lot.
4. Which popular entrepreneurial advice do you disagree with?
Dressing for success, and looking the part if you want to be successful.
I say be presentable, but don’t go out of your way trying to look like a million dollars when you don’t have the money. You may inadvertently give off the wrong image. Imagine asking a potential investor for US$100,000 when you have pulled up in $120,000 worth of gear and transport because you want to project an image.
5. Is there anything you wish you knew about entrepreneurship before you got started?
How hard it would be: I lost my first business and, with it, everything I owned. I have been on the brink of suicide, battled depression, addiction to pain killers and insomnia.
6. Name a business opportunity you would still like to pursue.
Drone rental services to infrastructure, agricultural or construction projects, so that governments, banks, investors, project promoters and so forth can report on the progress of projects in real time without the need to go to site.
The journey so far’ series is edited by Wilhelmina Maboja, with copy editing by Xolisa Phillip, and content production by Justin Probyn and Nelly Murungi.