Justice Maphosa’s rags to riches story, and how aspiring Zimbabwean entrepreneurs can turn to fortune in SA

By Milicent Chanetsa
His tale from rags to riches inspires many Zimbabweans trying to make it in South Africa. But the soft-spoken Justice Maphosa – founder and Group CEO of Bigtime Strategic Group SA  – believes that perseverance, patience and sheer hard work are the key ingredients to breaking into the cut-throat South African market.
In a hastily arranged interview at the Hilton Hotel in Sandton, soon after he got a special recognition award at the Zimbabwe Achievers Awards (ZAA), Maphosa revealed the key ingredients which has contributed to his current success – being a multi-millionaire who has carved out a niche in South Africa, was persistance and determination.
Throughout the interview Maphosa was confidence personified, talking with affection about the current economic prospects of Zimbabwe, which has previously suffered record-high inflation and biblical levels of economic meltdown under decades of iron-fisted rule by Robert Mugabe.
For Zimbabwean entrepreneurs trying to break into the SA market, Maphosa did not mince his words: “I would say they shouldn’t lose hope, but maybe what they are looking for is back home. Maybe the dawn is now – a new Zimbabwe with a lot of opportunities where aspiring businesspeople could think of anything. If one thinks of an internet café in South Africa, it has already been done, if one thinks of Uber in South Africa – it has been done, if one thinks of a coffee shop – in South Africa it’s around the corner.”
“Go to Victoria Falls, what’s there? Go to Bulawayo, what’s there? How many eating places are there in Bulawayo? Some may say but we require money to do all these things. I am saying Zimbabwe offers us a new dawn, today. We are investing in Zimbabwe. There is a lot of investment coming into Zimbabwe. If you cannot make it in South Africa, there is nothing which says you cannot make it in Zimbabwe,” said Maphosa.
Touching on his days of living from hand to mouth, Maphosa said he got his big break when he moved from one South African city to the other, looking for opportunities.
“I tried … I lived in South Africa in many places. I have lived in many different places. I stayed in Hillbrow, I stayed in Cape Town, and I stayed in Pretoria. I have also tried many different towns of South Africa. What gave me a break is the different towns – while some towns didn’t give me a break, some of the towns gave me the break that I have today. So, if you keep knocking on this door, and it doesn’t open, you need to try another door. You don’t give up on what you believe in,” said Maphosa.
“The struggle of a black child is well documented, it’s known. It’s not easy – many doors are closed. This is why people like myself are saying let us try and make it easy for our fellow brothers. This why we have bursary programmes, we have food nutrition programmes running, that is why we even have spiritual programmes like the Gwanda Gospel Show to nurture the soul. When the soul is nurtured, the body heals,” said Maphosa.
Bigtime Strategic Group SA is reportedly to be one of the most enterprising Zimbabwean companies in SA. It boasts of a diversified portfolio in ICT, aviation, property, project management, and farming.
Millions of Zimbabwean breadwinners have migrated to South Africa overthe  decades, a situation which has been blamed on tearing up families and inflaming tensions between locals and the migrants – particularly in the South African townships like Alexandra in Johannesburg and Mamelodi in Pretoria.
Speaking at the same event Zimbabwe consul-general Henry Mukonoweshuro told guests that Zimbabweans based in South Africa should seriously consider moving back, and investing in their motherland, now led by President Emmerson Mnangagwa.
“As we meet today, in the new dispensation, as we called it since last November, the government of Zimbabwe is very proud. We, as the representatives of the government of Zimbabwe are very proud to say as you toil, as you make names in these foreign lands, you should now start looking north of the Limpopo (River). As the president (Mnangagwa) always says, his mantra – Zimbabwe is now open for business,” said Mukonoweshuro.
Justice Maphosa’s Bigtime Strategic Group SA is reportedly one of the most enterprising Zimbabwean companies in SA. It boasts of a diversified portfolio in ICT, aviation, property, project management, and farming.
This article is published in partnership between Zimbabwe Digital News and Zim Diaspora Scribes.

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