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How a Zimbabwean startup is going regional – The Zimbabwe Mail – The Zimbabwe Mail

After recently acquiring controlling interests in Altron Mozambique and Altron Botswana, award-winning Tano Digital is now eyeing Kenya and Namibia

In November 2022, a Zimbabwean digital services firm acquired Altron’s Botswana and Altron Mozambique businesses.

By Irene Kalulu, bird story agency

The company behind the acquisition is Tano Digital Solutions (TDS), until recently a largely unheard-of ICT company run by a group of tech-savvy Zimbabweans with international experience.

Already present in South Africa, the fully Zimbabwean-owned and managed digital solutions firm is finalizing acquisition deals in Namibia and Kenya.

From five people in 2019 to current staff of 100, the tech company currently realizes an annual turnover of 600 million rands ($35 million). Now it is set for even bigger growth, with the continent as its market.

We talked to Tano Digital Solutions managing director Wallen Mangere to find out more.

When was Tano Digital Solutions founded, and what was the motivation behind its founding?

My co-founders and I have a technological background. I ran the IBM mid-market business for Africa and the Oracle business in the Southern African Development Community (SADC). I also spent about 18 years working in the US for tech firms.

On returning to Africa, my partners and I realized there was a gap in locally grown techpreneurs. So we started six years ago in South Africa after we realized it was a more mature market. But in 2019, being Zimbabweans, we thought it was an opportune time to open up a location there. Zimbabwe had an even greater gap in terms of the different aspects of tech companies from an infrastructural perspective, software development, and application or systems integration. We got into Zimbabwean right before covid-19 hit.

The motive was to fill the gap in technology by introducing ourselves as a locally grown, Black-owned and managed company in the space.

What funding and investment platforms did you benefit from as you were starting?

We used our savings and very few financial instruments. We leveraged credit systems from our customers. But mainly to start the business, to get the infrastructure and furniture, it was basically out of pocket.

What was the initial reception to TDS in the Zimbabwean market?

We thought we wouldn’t last in terms of our tenure in Zimbabwe. Still, our customers appreciated the option of having a new formidable service provider in the infrastructure and application space.

Customer adoption and customers coming to us and using our services are what has precipitated this growth and success that we have had in Zimbabwe. Our team grew from five people in 2019 to close to 100 currently. We have expanded in all aspects.

How did you acquire the Altron business in Botswana and Mozambique?

We have always had expansion aspirations, and it was either going to be organic growth or through acquisitions. While we were putting our plan together, the opportunity to acquire Altron in Botswana and Mozambique came about.

What motivated us more to procure Altron was that this business came with a different product set and offering. We now own the Botswana business 100%, and the purchase brought us a financial services option. All the banks in Botswana are now our customers. We provide and service 99% of the ATMs there.

That part of the business also brought in the Xerox copier machine business, where we do document management systems and electronic and digital management solutions.

What we are doing is increasing our product offering and increasing our footprint in the African space. For example, our Mozambique business comes with significant Oracle products, which we don’t have in our product stake. We are now a formidable Oracle partner in Mozambique with the skills, and it comes in with the networking infrastructure part of the business.

What are some challenges you have been facing doing business in Zimbabwe?

We got a lot of resistance from existing players. They tried to play dirty tricks to get us out of business and undermine us.

The current economic environment in Zimbabwe is also a challenge. For example, we import a lot of our equipment and getting foreign currency from the auction system is a challenge. Getting customers to pay you in forex is also a challenge. If you look at it up until recently, most government departments were paying in local currency at the bank’s local exchange rate, which is quite far away from what the street market is saying regarding exchange rates.

Then, the ever-moving economic target from an exchange rate perspective, even for the local currency it’s a problem.

If you price something today at 100 bonds (a form of legal tender, or money, in Zimbabwe, pegged to the US dollar) and it takes four months to procure that thing, by the time you deliver it, the exchange rate will probably be at 400, and the customer is committed to paying 100. You can stand to lose money.

Retaining and maintaining skills is also quite a daunting task. We aim to keep our employees happy, remunerating them properly and motivating them.

How have you scaled up your business with all these challenges?

We ensure we put in the correct provisions in managing customer payments. The customers are also operating in the same environment, so from a payments perspective, we base our pricing on a US dollar price at the current rates. If you are paying in Zimbabwean currency, you pay us the US dollar equivalent at the current exchange rate at the time.

You must do certain things to ensure you are not prejudicing yourself regarding pricing.

From a solutions perspective, we are the only SAP (service provider) currently in Zimbabwe, and obviously, we have to pay SAP license and maintenance fees in US dollars. We work with our customers to ensure that they either apply to the Reserve Bank themselves or remit some of the license fees to SAP to mitigate that risk on the currency side.

We’ve also partnered with other companies from Zimbabwe for the Robotics Process Automation Software. We focus on more than just SAP. We do infrastructure – IBM, Lenovo, and HP from an infrastructure perspective. From an application security perspective, we partnered with companies where we do quite a bit of cybersecurity. We realized that we have to partner with guys who have been in the industry for longer or are specialists in such areas and are thriving.

What are your plans for the future?

We are finalizing acquisitions of two other African countries. We will be in Namibia and Kenya by the end of February or early March. Meaning we will be in six countries in Africa.

For a company that started operating recently, being in six countries and turning over 600 million rands is a big accomplishment. But again, it’s been a deliberate acquisition and expansion idea we have had from the beginning.

The original version of this article was published by bird-Africa no filter.

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Zimbabwe Parliament Enacts Law Critics Say Paralyzes NGO Freedoms – Voice of America – VOA News

Jeers filled the air when lawmakers of the ruling ZANU-PF party celebrated after the Private Voluntary Organizations Amendment Bill, which regulates non-governmental organizations, passed in Zimbabwe’s Senate late Wednesday.

The legislation, which still awaits President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s signature, makes it a criminal offense for NGOs to support or oppose political parties or candidates in any election.

Supporters say the legislation is designed to curb financing for terrorism and money laundering in Zimbabwe. Ziyambi Ziyambi, Zimbabwe’s justice minister, told Parliament after the bill passed that law-abiding NGOs have nothing to fear.

“All we are saying is: if you come and you say you want to assist – in quotes – water sanitation, you have not any business in getting into political lobbying,” he said. “So, we are saying: we want to follow the money where it is going. So, we believe that this is a progressive piece of legislation.”

But opposition lawmakers and human rights activists don’t see it that way.

Musa Kika, a human rights lawyer who heads the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum, said the law infringes on Zimbabweans’ basic rights.

“Our position is this law is unconstitutional,” he said. “It violates freedom of association. It violates citizens’ rights to organize and self-organize in spaces outside the state. So that’s our position that this law cannot and will not stand constitutional scrutiny by an independent and any competent court.”

Kika said the process to enact the bill had been driven by the president’s office, and that parliament ignored Zimbabweans’ objections during public hearings on the proposed legislation.

“And the consequences for our country are going to be dire,” he said. “From a social protection point of view, from [a] diminished accountability point of view, even economic fortunes given that development support in Zimbabwe was contributing annually almost $1 billion. We are going to see a significant reduction in those that find Zimbabwe being a safe space for them to bring their development support.”

Kika said the NGOs in Zimbabwe are now at the “mercy” of the government.

During the debate in Parliament, a member of the opposition, Morgen Komichi, said the new law would result in only the government’s voice being heard.

“In a democracy, there should be different voices,” he said. “People should air their views. They should converge, discuss and plan their things. In last 42 years, Zimbabwe hasn’t seen an organization which is a threat to government. Please do not enact this law….”

Meanwhile, a top local official of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) – one of Zimbabwe’s major financiers – said the legislation could have major consequences. Priscilla Sampil, acting director of USAID Zimbabwe, told a local newspaper this week that the agency’s programs with local NGOs will be severely affected if President Mnangagwa signs the bill into law.

USAID has provided $4.5 billion in support to Zimbabwe since 1980 for water and
sanitation, HIV/AIDS and other health-related issues.

The agency declined to comment to VOA for this story.

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Chibaya raises a stink in Parliament after saying Chamisa is … – The Zimbabwe Mail

Amos Chibaya

Zimbabwe opposition legislator Amos Chibaya yesterday raised a stink in Parliament after he interjected that Nelson Chamisa was the President of Zimbabwe.

When asked to withdraw that statement he said he had said Chamisa was president of Citizens Coalition for Change Zimbabwe.

His colleague Settlement Chikwinya said Chibaya had said Chamisa is president of the Zimbabwe Citizens Coalition for Change.

Deputy Speaker Tsitsi Gezi said she would have to check with Hansard, the Parliamentary record, what Chibaya had actually said.

Chibaya interjected when Perseveriance Zhou was debating Zimbabwe President Emerson Mnangagwa’s State of the Nation Address.

Full debate

HON. P. ZHOU: I think so. – [HON. CHIBAYA: President of Zimbabwe Nelson Chamisa] – [HON. MEMBERS: Aaaah!] – [HON. T. MOYO: Zviroto zvako izvo.]  – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] – [HON. MATHE: Withdraw that.] – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] –

THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER:  Hon. Zhou, please go ahead.

HON. P. ZHOU: Thank you Madam Speaker Ma’am – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] –

HON. TOGAREPI: On a point of order Madam Speaker.  I think the Hon. Member must withdraw the statement that Chamisa is the President of Zimbabwe.

THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER:  Who said that?  He must withdraw because that is a

misleading statement. – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] – Order, may we please have order in the House.  Who said Chamisa is the President of Zimbabwe – [AN HON. MEMBER: Hon. Chibaya!] –

Hon. Chibaya, please…

Hon. Chikwinya having stood up

THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER:  Hon. Chikwinya, I did not recognise you. Please may you take your seat?

HON. CHIKWINYA: Handiti zvanzi tiite withdraw.

THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER:  No. Are you the one who said that?

HON. CHIKWINYA:  We want to withdraw.

THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER:  Are you the one who said that statement – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] –

HON. CHIKWINYA:  Haana kunzwa zvakanaka. Hanzi President Chamisa is the President of Zimbabwe Citizen Coalition for Change.  Haana kunzwa the last part – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] –

THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER:  Hon. Chibaya, please may you withdraw your statement – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] –

An Hon. Member having stood to raise a point of order.

THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER:  Please sit down.  You cannot raise a point of order on top of another one. Hon. Chibaya, withdraw your statement.

HON. CHIBAYA:  Hon. Speaker, I do not know what you want me to withdraw.  It is true that President Chamisa is the President of Zimbabwe Citizen Coalition for Change – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] –

THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER:  What has that got to do with the business of this House? – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] – If you continue behaving in that manner, I will send you out Hon. Members.  You are disrupting the smooth running of the business of this House – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] – I am giving you the last warning.

HON. T. MOYO:  On a point of order, Hon. Chibaya said Chamisa is the President of Zimbabwe. That has to be withdrawn – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] –   The overzealous member said Chamisa is the President of Zimbabwe and that has to be withdrawn.

THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: Hon. Chibaya, may you be honourable and withdraw your statement?  Why are you misleading the people?  Hon. Chibaya withdraw your statement!  Hon. Chibaya withdraw your statement! – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] –

Hon. Gonese having stood to raise a point of order.

THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER:  Hon. Gonese, take your seat.

HON. GONESE:  I have not spoken.

THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER:  I have not recognised you.  Please take your seat.

HON. GONESE:  I just stood up.  I think it is allowed to stand up Madam Speaker – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] –

THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER:  Why are you standing Hon. Gonese?

HON. GONESE:  I want to raise a point of order …

THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER:  No, why are you disrupting the smooth running of this motion? Please take a seat.

HON. GONESE:  It is not that Madam Speaker.  I just stood up and I did not say anything.

THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: Take your seat Hon. Gonese.

Hon. Chibaya withdraw your statement.

HON. CHIBAYA:  Hon. Speaker, I do not know what you want me to withdraw I said the President of CCC Zimbabwe Nelson Chamisa.  What is wrong with that?

THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: That is not what you said Hon. Chibaya.

HON. CHIBAYA: That is what I said and I can replay it.  I do not know where the anger is coming from, I do not know why my Central Committee Member is getting angry. – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] –

THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order! Anyway Hon. Members, we will check in the Hansard.  You may continue Hon. Zhou.

Source: InsiderZim

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Zimbabwe’s Central Bank Cut Its Benchmark Interest Rate to 150% from 200% on … – Latest Tweet by – LatestLY

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