How $20 changed my life: Musarapasi

As the country’s economy came to a standstill and brought unemployment to 80 per cent, it took just $20 for Tinashe Musarapasi (29) to venture into a spice business that has changed his lifestyle.

Musarapasi now earns around $800 a month and has managed to buy two cars and look after his close relatives.

Between 2003 and 2010, Musarapasi, who has a bookkeeping and accounting certificate, worked for Old Mutual. He was then laid off.

“I went on to work at Thomas Meikles Supermarket in Ruwa, where I mesmerised our customers with my marketing skills, but I was just working as a till operator and shopkeeper,” he said. “It was one of our customers who had seen my talent in marketing and told me that I was wasting time in the wrong business.”

His relatives, Richard Ziwachi and Pasipanodya Mutimutema, had also lost heir jobs when Zim-Spices shut down. Their experience and know-how in the sector combined with Musarapasi’s marketing skill to create the successful business

“I believe that success is not achieved and measured by huge sums of capital or starting a massive business,” he said. “Even with a few dollars, the right attitude and passion, one can get anywhere.”

Musarapasi produces herbs and spices from indigenous plants and exotic plants.

“I have about 28 types of spices that I make using ginger, coriander, garlic, cinnamon, turmeric, cayenne, parsley, thyme, sweet basil, black and white pepper, and cumin,” he said. “Some spices are natural and medicinal while others are blends that use salt, sugar or MSG to enhance the flavour.”

Musarapasi said the secret behind his success was honesty and originality in making his spices and relating to his clients.

“There are some bogus spice makers who just mix spices with flour and when customers buy and use them they are put off. With mine, they order more.

“It all began with the $20 that I had borrowed from one of my nephews, I bought ingredients and ground them, made a number of spices and sold all of them. From that first shot, I’ve never looked back.”

He was able to buy a car in 2011 – and that in itself was a wise business move.

“The motive to buy the car was to reach all my clients with a lot of products within a short space of time, as well as expand my catchment area to Mutare and Bulawayo,” he said.

His vision is to set up a spice-making factory and employ others. Some of the major challenges bedevilling Tinashe’s business are bad debtors and limited finance.

“I am currently working informally,” he said. “I would like to urge government to make loans available to up-and- coming serious business entrepreneurs.”

Musarapasi works with his fiancée, Rejoice Mushinga, and Marshal Chitsamatanga as business partners.

“2014 is the year to finalise registration of my company and sourcing of a grinding machine, as I only have a packaging-seal machine and scale and have to rely on my nephews’ grinding machines. I want to expand my sales to restaurants, supermarkets and the hospitality industry,” he said.

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