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Beginning Life After The Burger Giant

Takesure loves to write about life changing lessons he has learnt over time. He draws much of his inspiration from events in his own life.

My Fresh Start

Sammy was this cool, calm and collected as she spoke. It was as if I was discovering my wife all over again. “Is this woman my Sammy? What happened to her? Is she trying to scare me?” I couldn’t help but ask quietly. She didn’t sound or act like the woman I have known for two decades. There was a moment of deafening silence as I drifted into deep thought. The kind of silence that’s unsettlingly heavy. I was doing a lot of talking without producing any sound or moving my lips or hands.

I didn’t want to consider any other option except fighting for my job. My job was my life, I had to fight for it. I couldn’t imagine life without that job. I had spent twenty two years in that job and it was the only one I knew. Half my whole life for that matter! How can anyone tell me to just throw in the towel and make a fresh start? As if it was that easy. I wouldn’t listen, even if that someone was my lovely wife. I would’ve to quickly find a way to make her see that fighting for my job is the only way!

“Darling, how much do you think we can get from those two vehicles?” She broke the silence “Do you have any idea?” She added. I didn’t want to answer that question, but I had to. Things were quickly going out hand, I thought. I didn’t like the direction things were taking. Soon it would be too late to impress upon her the importance of fighting for my job. “About four thousand dollars, I think,” I reluctantly answered. “For both of them or each?” She continued. “For both of them, darling!” I responded.

“Is there a way we can get slightly more?” She asked again. “I’m afraid, no darling. We’re very much in a hurry to sell so it does weaken our bargaining position!” I replied. “We may get slightly less even!” I continued. “No problem all the same, we’ll work with what we have and build on that. I was hoping we would get slightly more though. I had drawn my budgets based on an initial capital injection of five thousand dollars. This would’ve been made up of four thousand five hundred dollars from the sale of the two cars and five hundred dollars from the sale of stock in Vumba Tea Corporation.” She explained.

“So here is what we’re going to do darling,” she continued explaining. “We are going to sell the cars and stock as discussed and use the proceeds to set up a bakery and related retail shop to serve our local community. I’m sure you have noticed that we do not have a bakery or confectionery business in our ten kilometre radius. Products delivered to our local store are rarely fresh as a result.”

I was very impressed! The woman had done her homework in the past three weeks. She had it all figured out and well presented for good measure! There I was with no plan at all save for saying ‘let’s fight on!” She had taken her time to gather the necessary information about starting a business in our locality; information about the type of business, the capital and statutory requirements, and all the finer details of setting it up and getting it running. While she was busy with all that, I was busy whining and wailing about being a victim of modern day corporate politics. I was ashamed of myself.

“People from this community have to go to town or Prospect Industrial Site to get fresh baked products. This means there’s a huge unfulfilled need here. All we have to do is fulfill the need and make money in the process. There's such a huge market for a bakery of the size we are set up. An area of close to ten thousand households. If we bake products that not only match our customers’ expectations but exceed them, we’ll be very successful.” She concluded.

“It’s too late to revert to my argument.” I said quietly. ”Maybe it is time to start something new”. The women’s club did a great job training my Sammy. She’s a completely different person from the one I know as my wife when she’s talking business. All those years I thought the women were just enjoying themselves over great dishes, cakes or garment making while sharing the juiciest gossip from the neighbourhood. I never took them seriously from a business perspective. How wrong I was!

I’m sure when news broke that I had lost my job, Sammy shared the news with her closest friends. The women encouraged her to set herself up in business. They didn’t doubt her abilities given how well she had run different ventures over the previous one and a half decades. They believed in her to do well in business. That must have been the reason Ratidzo Murehwa gave me lectures about starting and managing a business with my wife the other day on the bus. She knew Sammy was already working on setting up a business and wanted to make sure I was on board with her.

Setting Up The Business

Sammy had taken her time to prepare for almost every aspect of the bakery business. She had already spoken to Mudzingwa Brothers, the firm that owned and managed the place she earmarked as the place of business. The place had been vacant since the corn snack manufacturer who rented it closed down. They already had a provisional agreement in place which would be sealed with the payment of three months rentals.

We went through the list of bakery equipment suppliers Sammy had made and their respective quotations. Sammy and I wanted to get the most effective solution at the lowest price. Precision Bakery Equipment sell both new and refurbished bakery equipment. We thought their refurbished equipment would be ideal for our business in terms of both performance and price so we settled for them. We would make the payment for the equipment as soon as the money came in.

The stock in Vumba Tea Corporation was sold very easily for five hundred and seventy three dollars. We used the money to pay the rent which was agreed at one hundred and fifty dollars per month. Four hundred and fifty dollars in total was paid since the agreement called for the payment of three months rentals in advance. That done Sammy was able to organise the contractor to make the necessary alterations to the premises to suit our bakery business and satisfy the requirements of city authorities. We were to use the back of the building as the bakery and the front as the retail shop, so the contractor had to design the premises accordingly.

I took it upon myself to see to it that all the statutory requirements were met. Starting with the requirements of the city authorities, I made applications for bakery, food service and shop licence at the City of Harare offices. From there I went to Company Registry offices and made an application for the registration of a private company. We named it Danga Bakeries Private Limited trading as Sammy’s Delights. The company was duly registered the same day and was issued with a Certificate of Incorporation.

My next stop was our local commercial bank. We needed to open a bank account for the company. For a company to be registered with the tax authorities, it must have a bank account. After the account was opened I went to the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority offices to register the company as a tax payer. After filing the necessary papers, the company was registered and issued with a Tax Clearance Certificate.

We waited for the contractor to finish making the needed alterations to the premises so we could get the city officials to inspect the premises and issue us with the licences we applied for if we meet their requirements. The contractor took a little more than three weeks to complete the work. We invited the city building and health inspectors to come and evaluate the building which they did. The contractor did a very good job, so we passed the inspection and we were issued with the licences.

One of the cars was sold in the first week of October. It was sold for two thousand four hundred dollars to a family from our church. We now had enough to make full payment for the bakery equipment which we did without wasting any time. The equipment was delivered, fitted and tested on site. The bakery was up and running. The shop cabinets, displays and point of sale systems were installed too. All that was left was the stock of baking materials.

It wasn’t until the last week of October that the second car was finally sold. The car was sold for one thousand nine hundred and fifty dollars. It went to a local doctor who bought it for his son who had just graduated from college. I was happy for them, though deep down I wished I didn’t have to sell that car. It had to go though, for bigger things to be achieved, for the greater good!

With all our funding in place now, Sammy hired three qualified bakers and confectioners and two cashiers, and began their orientation and training the following day. The training lasted for five days and we set the date of opening for Saturday the eighth of November 2008. Meanwhile I ordered and paid for baking materials; from flour, mixes and sugar to incenses and flavours. All the materials were delivered on the same day. We were all set to roll out our first loaf of bread to the community. We were ready to roll!

Getting Into Business

On the eighth of November 2008,as planned, we rolled out our first loaf of bread down the conveyor. It was an unbelievable feeling. A feeling of accomplishment, it felt great especially considering that I was almost into depression exactly three months earlier after losing my job. Even now, I can’t fully describe the feeling. We were just starting, we hadn’t achieved anything yet, but it sure felt great.

Sammy decided that we would have an official opening ceremony. She invited leaders from local business groups, the national chamber of industry and commerce and officials from the Ministry Of Industry. Rutendo Maunganidze, her mentor, was the guest of honour and main speaker. She spoke so glowingly about the projects the local women were undertaking to alleviate poverty and empower themselves economically. "Sammy and her friends keep making me proud," she said. They were making her realise her dream of seeing to it that women from the community are economically empowered and successful.

We started with a production of two thousand loaves of bread, five thousand hamburger rolls, five thousand hot dog rolls, ten thousand sugar buns and small quantities of tasty eats and desserts. There was such a large turnout at the official opening ceremony that everything was sold out almost instantly. The whole community was practically there. We had lots of complementary give-aways too; t-shirts, caps, scuffs and many more. There was so much pomp and fanfare.

Sammy instructed the bakers to run another batch of production of all the products, while the crowd celebrated, in order to satisfy demand. Business started on a very good note. Sammy was right, the community was crying for a bakery and delightful fresh baked eats. I looked at Sammy in the eyes and confessed, “I always knew there was a gem in you babie but didn’t know it was this huge. You’re are more than a star sweetie!” I said before kissing her lightly on the lips. Sammy’s Delights had arrived in the community and the community loved it!

© 2019 Takesure Danga