A tyre repair specialist’s journey

Image Courtesy of IH8MUD Forum

By Edith Gongera

EVERY entrepreneurial journey has its ups and downs. It’s not an easy road, it requires many sacrifices and at times dirty hands. Starting his business in a hyperinflationary era was a way to cushion himself and his family from poverty. It is a daunting task to be a man especially with many mouths to feed.

All eyes will be on you to provide a roof over the head, food, clothing and school fees. After all, education has been famed the key to success. Tapiwa Denhere aged 40 is a father of three school-going children who started his business in 2007. This was a period when Zimbabwe’s economy receded to hyperinflation when buying a loaf of bread would require billions of dollars.

With the industries closed, companies pulling out of a volatile economy, Tapiwa monikered Rasta tried out his hand in the tyre repair business in Warren Park.
With every business, it is always a tall order to get customers, to establish a trade. These are the hurdles that Tapiwa had to jump.

With every cloud is a silver lining, the 40 year old had to endure two more years before Zimbabwe dollarized the economy.

“It was a difficult era when I began my trade of tyre mending and tyre pressure. I was the only one who started this business at the shops. It seemed like boon being the only one with the monopoly but the challenge was customers where hard to come by,” said Tapiwa.

A father of three, Tapiwa had no option but to venture into this trade despite having no training or knowledge of it.
“As a father with three kids and all going to school it is my duty to make sure that l provide with all their needs. It was very difficult when l started but now things have changed for good,” he said.

When Zimbabwe dollarized, business eased for Tapiwa whose life turned around through this business.

“Every dog has its day. I am a fan of Hwindi President who sang the song Tsvagai mabasa. The song speaks to me in a way I can’t explain.

“And also the song Usambonyara basa raunoita by Patrick Mkwamba which tackled the stigma associated with perceived menial jobs as many think office work is the best.

“Had it not been for the fact that I was choosy, I could have been divorced but thanks to my wife’s support I’m still in this business and I am a proud to say I am a veteran,” Tapiwa said.

Tapiwa says he now makes about USD25 a day from his trade. He has managed to employ an apprentice to assist him due to the work overload.

“I started this car tyre mending and pressure service alone but now l have managed to employ another person due to the work load l always face during the morning and evening whereby a lot of cars will need to be attended to, “he said.
He says customers should not take advantage of the cliché “Customer or client is king”.

A customer can be king but I feel this cliché is making our lives as tyre repairers because somehow difficult. Of course, you have to be calm and professional in handling the clients despite them being wrong. You cannot fight them back or shout at them. It leaves us with depression.

“I make at least 15 to USD25 per day depending on the day. With only one compressor l manage to service my customers very well but l wish one day l will have more compressors to boost my business,” said the 40 year old boss.

He feels he can do more if he had a generator given the incessant electrical outages.
“Although l have been enjoying my business have been facing a lot of challenges when there is no electricity. I am appealing to the well-wishers to provide me with a generator that l can be able to work”, Tapiwa said.

His only worry is how the vaunted leaders of tomorrow are wasting, drowning and choking their lives away in drug and substance abuse which is becoming an epidemic in Zimbabwe.

“It is a disheartening period we are living in where our children and grandchildren, brothers and sisters die at tender ages due to substance abuse. Apart from that, what is more hurting is how they act like mentally challenged persons selling furniture and food items to feed their addiction to drugs like Mutoriro also known as Crystal Meth,” he said.

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