DCK thinks outside the box with unique business model
Munyaradzi Musiiwa Bulawayo Bureau
ZIMBABWE is slowly adopting and nurturing a job-creator mindset as espoused in the country’s education 5.0 model, which seeks to create innovators and a productive industry rather than job seekers and a supermarket economy.
The country’s Vision 2030 of becoming a middle-income economy demands a vibrant industry based on a purely Zimbabwean prototype. As rightly put by the Minister of Higher and Tertiary education, Science and Technology Development, Professor Amon Murwira: “we have a pleasure and happiness to do degrees, but we do not do degrees for pleasure and happiness. We do degrees to produce goods and/or services”.
A few local players are heeding the Government’s call to start thinking outside the box and respond to the needs of the economy and proffer solutions to the challenges bedevilling the country. Gweru businessman, Mr Douglas Kwande, who owns the fast-growing Douglas and Claris Kwande (DCK) investments, is one of the locals who have since debunked from the colonial mindset through his business model to have 100 percent local products.
Challenges that came about as a result of the economic sanctions are the ones that prompted Mr Kwande to develop epistemological disobedience to the colonial business model of making Africa dependent on imported products.
“I went through all the economic hardships that the country went through. In 2004 I opened my first DCK supermarket in Kadoma. In 2005 I opened another supermarket in the same city. DCK stands for Douglas and Claris Kwande. Claris is my wife.
“In 2006 I came and opened some shops in Gweru and also bought some buildings some of which I am using now. Between 2006 and 2011, I opened supermarkets in Bulawayo and Gweru, Chegutu, Sanyati, Harare and Kwekwe,” he said in an interview.
“In 2014 we had challenges of import licences that is when I decided that where we are going we need to start making our own local products. I was friends with some Indians where I observed that their textile shops had their own products.
“So, I ventured into farming where I had 500ha of wheat under irrigation. That investment gobbled about US$3.8 million. We started growing wheat because we were having flour supply challenges. So, we then milled our wheat and experimented making bread with our flour.”
It was this newly adopted business model that endeared Mr Kwande with the Government and President Mnangagwa. DCK Investments has proved to the Government that the country could also produce bread with locally grown wheat and ingredients thereby reducing the import bill.
However, this did not augur well with other players in the industry who have since launched a media onslaught against the business, he said. DCK now has an installed capacity of producing 230 000 loaves daily and is targeting producing more than 400 000. The bakery has literally taken over the market.
“In 2018 the President caught wind that we are making bread using local wheat. I was invited to explain to him how I was producing bread from local wheat. I was then invited to Cabinet in 2019 to make a presentation on how we were making bread from local wheat. That is when we attracted a great deal of media coverage. I have been in the industry for more than 20 years,” said Mr Kwande.
“So, the majority of the products we sell in our retail outlets we produce them ourselves. We have an installed capacity of producing 230 000 loaves and target producing 400 000 loaves a day.”
DCK investments has also acquired Zimbabwe Glass Industries (Zimgalss), the country’s sole producer of flint glass, thereby creating over 1 000 employment opportunities.
“We are now looking at the export market and we have ventured into glass manufacturing mainly flint glass. We are looking at our community and identify what products do we have what has not been utilised,” said Mr Kwande.
“It is better for local investors to resuscitate these companies because if we make profits our dividends remain here in Zimbabwe unlike foreign-owned companies that repatriate their profits. We are better off with indigenous investors.
“We are now employing 500 people excluding Zimglass. We are looking at increasing the workforce to more than 1000 once we complete the refurbishment of Zimglass,” said Mr Kwande.
DCK is also into mealie meal production. The Gweru-based millers are producing 200 tonnes per day and have procured equipment that will see them producing 500 tonnes per day, which translates to 15 000 tonnes per month. Mr Kwande is also a beef producer among other agricultural products. Despite his humble background, his business has grown into leaps and bounds.
“I was born in Sanyati where I went to school. We used to walk for close to 6km barefooted to school while doing menial jobs in the neighbourhood to raise money for school fees. After finishing Ordinary Level, I came to Gweru where I was staying in Mtapa high density suburb with my nephew where I pushed scotch carts at Kombayi vegetable market.
“In 1993 I was employed as a domestic worker at a relative’s garage cooking dog food. The same year I became a temporary teacher. In 1996 I enrolled at Mkoba Teachers’ College. In 1999 became a cotton farmer and doubled as a middleman,” he recalled.
“I contracted cotton farmers while also selling water containers since water was a challenge. I then opened a general dealer shop in 1999 and by 2002 I had opened six shops. I then resigned from teaching to concentrate on my business, and my business grew from there. “
Mr Kwande is a holder of a Bachelor of Commerce Honours Degree in Business Management from Midlands State University.