Ruth Butaumocho Gender Profile
Pupils often have dreams and ambitions they share with their peers as they trudge home from school after a hard day’s work. With no outside heroes to emulate, sometimes their dreams come to naught. That was not the case with Richard Muchaka, a young boy who was encouraged by his parents to work hard after discovering that he was a woodsmith, who could turn any log into a magnificent piece of art.
They were not far from the truth.
Mr Muchaka can afford to hold his head high because he has earned himself a place among the best craftsmen and entrepreneurs in Zimbabwe.
From a ghetto kid who had all his dreams written on a piece of paper as part of his class creative essay, Mr Muchaka now stands among the giants in shaping the economic dynamics of Zimbabwe.
He is the owner and brains behind Kitchen Link Private Limited.
“I could have become a mechanic, but my parents helped me to realise and nurture my talent,” he revealed in an interview last week.
Registered in 2012, Kitchen Link is a discerning company that provides contemporary kitchen cabinets, built-in cupboards, office furniture and bathroom vanities.
It has two branches in Msasa and Eastlea with plans afoot to open yet another one in Mozambique.
With a product range that includes different state-of-the-art fitted kitchens, movable and built-in wardrobes as well as bathroom cabinets and a coterie of accessories, Mr Muchaka is already competing with the best regional companies.
“We have managed to bring diversity, originality and some of the best designers for our products, which are competitive and are most sought after by customers,” Mr Muchaka said.
Mr Muchaka added that although the sector was under siege from copycats and fly by night individuals bent on creating chaos through offering substandard counterfeit products, Kitchen Link products remained distinctive.
“We have ensured that our products remain distinct on the market by using original materials and ensuring good workmanship.
“We are also keeping abreast with both regional and international trends when it comes to designs so that we continue giving our clients the best,” he said.
Attaining such excellence did not come on a silver platter for Mr Muchaka, but it was through hard work, determination, up-skilling and eagerness to define new territory within the sector.
Having promised himself to earn his living through carpentry, Mr Muchaka enrolled for a cabinet making course with Harare Polytechnic College.
He landed his first job with Vanity Furniture and later moved to Semble IT before calling it quits in 2008 to start his own line of products.
Mr Muchaka was soon to discover that venturing into business required much more than ingenuity.
A few months after resigning from his job to kick-start his own product range, Mr Muchaka could barely keep his head above the water.
Saddled with bills that needed to be paid and stuck with finished furniture that had no takers, Mr Muchaka quickly jumped ship and started a transport business.
“I bought a kombi and within days I was up and running,” he recalled.
Although it was at the height of economic challenges, Mr Muchaka knew the line of business he had opted for would sustain him for days.
In no time, he had built a fleet of 10 commuter omnibuses that were plying different routes.
Although he could now afford to pay the bills and put morsels of bread on the table, Mr Muchaka still felt empty inside.
He yearned for the smell of wood and the sound of a wood planer gliding on a piece of wood.
“Carpentry was my first love, it was in me. I knew I had to rekindle my romance with the trade,” he said.
Since he was now in a better financial position than before, Mr Muchaka sold some of his fleet and bought basic carpentry machinery, enabling him to open a factory in Msasa in 2012.
“I then decided to register Kitchen Link and hit the ground running.”
Within a short period, the brand had gone nationwide and had even penetrated neighbouring Mozambique.
Buoyed by the sudden growth of the Kitchen Link, Mr Muchaka sold the remaining fleet and retooled the factory.
“We also had to relocate to a bigger and better place, leaving the premises from which we had started. We had become a brand and it needed to show,” said Muchaka.
Mr Muchaka utilised all the experience acquired from his previous employer and knowledge imparted to him from all the courses he attended in South Africa, while he was still with Semble It.
He might have walked the better part of his thousand-mile journey, but Mr Muchaka concedes that the terrain has been rugged.
“The biggest challenge is the shortage of foreign currency. The situation has stalled some of our productions because most of the material that we use is imported,” he said.
Like any other businessperson flying in the face of a storm, Mr Muchaka says temporary setbacks are part of the game in business.
His vision has not been clouded by prevailing challenges in business. He is already setting his sights on neighbouring Mozambique, where he now has a steady, but growing client base.
“We just have to keep pushing for a better working environment while keeping an eye on other opportunities,” said the 37-year old entrepreneur.
For feedback:[email protected]