Businesses that weathered the storm

By Nicholas Norbrook

Posted on Monday, 27 July 2009 00:00

The past decade has created an increasingly difficult operating environment for businesses. Hyper-inflation pushed millions of people out of the country, taking their skills and capital with them. But the industrialists are a bullish breed and believe the country will quickly regain its role as second largest economy in Southern Africa. Farai Rwodzi, a director of African Sun Group, was one of those that stayed when the going got tough: “Believe it or not, from a corporate finance standpoint this place was heaven back then. Negative interest rates, businesses that had a positive cash flow and Zim dollar debt easily available, which after three to six months would be worth next to nothing. We were able to pay back the loan to buy African Sun in just six months.”

Philip Chiyangwa owns Pinnacle Property Investment, a company with the largest property portfolio outside of Old Mutual, and which is to list in the coming months. He also believes that tourism will be a quick way to restart the economy. “For the World Cup, the facilities and the hotels are there. But the question is about being competitive – people nowadays want to stay in the best but for less”. Tawanda Nyambirai, Chairman of Econet, a telecoms operator, has an outlook hinged on politics. “There will be a level of uncertainty that remains until we have had free and fair elections.”

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