Ruth Butaumocho : Gender Profile
People often say growing up in a small town has its own challenges, however, enterprising individuals are often not deterred by the geographical disadvantage, but strive to rise above challenges. One such individual is Ishmael Mutilamanja, a young entrepreneur originally from Kadoma who did not allow the geographical indifference to cloud his vision.At only 28, Ishmael has become a force to reckon with in the energy sector, and can safely place his business portfolio among some of Zimbabwe’s high flying entrepreneurs.
He is the owner and found of Pristine Technologies, one of the leading companies in the provision of green power systems such as solar as well information communication technology consumables that also include desktop PCs, laptops, printers and software’s.
“I am not a graduate of anything.
“I am just passionate about business, in whatever form and whatever means and one day I will be remembered for creating a legacy,” said Ishmael.
He might not have been in the formal business for long, but Ishmael is slowly making inroads in the highly competitive sector, thanks to the experience, tact and his ability to execute skills he acquired as a teenager while running a grocery shop in Kadoma’s Waverley suburb.
“I got my first feel of business while in secondary school when I set up a grocery shop in Kadoma.
“Setting up this shop was not an accident, but it was a stepping stone towards achieving my dream of becoming a businessman,” he said.
When many of his peers would spend their free time imitating Lionel Messi’s dribbling antics or chasing after the belles in the hood, Ishmael would patronise wholesales looking for bargains to put in his shop.
“When I was writing my O-Level examinations, I would first go and buy stocks for my shop before dashing to the exam,” he recalled.
Soon after finishing his examinations, Ishmael packed his bags and headed to Harare to join his brother, who had set himself up and was running a thriving computer concern.
Banking on his short but impressive stint with the grocery shop back in the province, he diligently executed his sales and marketing portfolio, while keeping an eye for opportunities to start his own business.
Albert Einstein was indeed right when he said in the middle of difficult lies opportunity, because when Ishmael’s chance of getting into business came through, he almost missed it.
What began as a frustrating ordeal to recover money from a manufacturer who had sold him a non-working inverter, later turned into a business opportunity.
“In 2008, at the height of economic crisis in Zimbabwe I bought an inverter in South Africa and sold it to a customer, who immediately returned it to me, saying it was not working.
“Angry that I had been duped, I went back to the shop and they immediately referred me to the manufacturer so that I could get a replacement,” he said.
Still smarting from the embarrassment of supplying a customer with an obsolete inverter, Ishmael was spoiling for a fight, when he approached the manufacturer.
“The manufacturer apologised profusely, replaced the inverter and asked me if I was interested in distributing his products in Zimbabwe.
That incident gave birth to Pristine Technologies.
Using his experience acquired from working for his brother’s computer concern, Ishmael hit the ground running, putting up the structures and the logistical arrangements in place.
“Without even an office to operate from, I told myself I was already a businessman, and nothing or no one was going to stop me from achieving my dream,” he enthused.
It is the same determination and the desire to fulfil his long cherished dream of setting himself up that has taken him this far.
He is already planning to spread his business tentacles regionally and has since set his sights on Malawi.
“I have established myself here and I am ready to penetrate the region. I am not worried about any unforeseen challenges. Should they be there, then I will tackle them head on,” Ishmael confidently said.
A holder of a LCCI certificate, Ishmael says his trump card in business has been his good negotiation skills.
“Good negotiation skills are essential in brokering any deal. Yes, capital is important in business, but there are also other fundamentals that have to carry the day and take you to the next level.
Ishmael paid tribute to his brother, Richard for honing his skills in business, a feat he wouldn’t have been able to do without his mentor-ship.
“In books you get the greatest skills in starting or growing your business, but sometimes, the ideas are best explained by people in business and my brother has been able to do that,” said Ishmael, who is married to Esnathi.
Ishmael urged the youth to start formulating business concepts even without good financial resources.
“I would like to meet with young emerging business people and coach them that sometimes you don’t need money to start your business. Innovation is the key and opportunities will always be there,” he affirmed.
Ishmael says the complacence being displayed by big corporate organisations has spawned a new breed of businesspeople.
“A lot of well established companies have become so arrogant and very complacent, and are in the process losing business to very small but well organised companies who are now giving quality service.”