By Amanda Ellen Nicola Jojo
OWING to inflation, inconsistency in policies amongst other macroeconomic factors, Zimbabwe’s economy has been under the spotlight for years and the World Bank describes the country as economically fragile.
It is estimated that private investors’ sentiments will remain stifled due to the complex operating environment in the country.
The Entrepreneurial Magazine caught up with Business and Talent Developer, Recruiter in Africa, Hans Blom, who creates and develop businesses in the southern African region.
Amidst the current economic status of Zimbabwe, Blom underscored that the country is well-heeled with young entrepreneurs who are creative and well thought business initiatives.
“…they deserve our support, and they should also receive the same attention that is now attributed to mega projects as financed by friend-states,” Blom said.
However, in July 2022, global credit insurer COFACE stated that despite Zimbabwe’s persistent challenges, its recovery continues through moderate growth and revenues are expected to rise as the economy improves.
Hence, Blom is on a drive to capitalise on this momentum and promote sustainable development through his ventures. He migrated to Zimbabwe in 2019 from the Netherlands and he is the Chief Executive Officer of Hans Business Development.
“I migrated to Zimbabwe for a personal reason, my marriage with a woman from Bulawayo. Already before we got married I explored the business opportunities: recruitment for European companies of IT-experts and Business Development for start-ups and expanding companies in Zimbabwe,” Blom said.
“The African economy and business policies were not easy to master, and the mainly informal way of doing business is Zimbabwe stays a challenge. I learned that applying ‘western’ business concepts is not the best way to go. Meanwhile I understood better how to connect with business persons and to deal with their concerns and aspirations.”
On the other hand, Blom voiced his misgivings towards the current state of the Zimbabwe economy.
“Growing to a middle-income economy is an attractive perspective for many citizens, but to be honest, this is currently regrettably very troubled by the super inflation and the lack of trust of foreign private investors in the integrity of the local business world.
“One of my first lessons in economy is to invest when the economy is declining and then invest in the ‘new economy’, an innovative business,” Blom expressed.
At the core of his business and socio economic development contribution he is also on a mission to shrink brain drain in Zimbabwe.
He said: “‘Brain drain’ is an old concept that gives a pessimistic view on labour migration. I developed a circular view on labour migration for a 3rd world country as Zimbabwe: as Xpat you leave as a professional and you return as an entrepreneur. During your Xpat period you develop your own processional expertise and we coach you in training on managerial competences.
“Once you return and invest your savings in a local business we support you on business development.
“The idea behind this circular concept is that staying in contact – instead of condemning the leave – with the outgoing professional is in the end more rewarding for the economic development of the country and for creating jobs in new innovative businesses.
“Through his initiatives, Blom also offer financial assistance to companies that are in their infant stages.His criteria for financial assistance and participation are viability, expertise, market choice (mass or niche), integer entrepreneurship and sound financial management.
“Very important is the reinvestment policy of the business owner: profit from the turnover is not to be eaten, but must in the first three years for at least 50% be reinvested in the business development of the company.
“I may not charge for my consultancy not to drain the work capital that is needed to invest in the business development. In such a case I decide from the investor’s perspective to partner as shareholder or as venture capitalist, or a mixture” he stated.
In today’s commercial world, businesses rely on innovation and leaders must continuously look for techniques to innovate because problems cannot be solved with old solutions. That is when strategic innovation comes into play, as it is critical across all industries.
Blom believes that strategic innovation is the core of every business strategy and with the automation of all businesses and ‘the internet of things’ the companies that apply innovation best, are the winners.
“The business not only speeds up, also big parts are taken over by innovative start-ups that understand and market better how to serve clients who wants the latest stuff. Online business is growing faster than any physical business,” Blom said.
With the world assuming alternative ways to work, Blom stressed that working from home and remotely contracting has become a substantial part of the employment. Thus human value is key in adopting and acknowledging this innovative trend.
“It means: performance first and performance based rewarding. What ‘human value’ does that represent after we learned to look at company’s workforce as human capital? Free-lance operating professionals with a scarce expertise became negotiating partners for employers,” Blom added.
He stated that business owners – aiming at a high shareholder value – and employers look nowadays at the human value from three perspectives: internal co-entrepreneurship, innovative expertise, and commitment on sustainability.
“In every current business venture these three factors make the difference for the profitable continuity of the company and its attractiveness for a merger or take-over from.”
Because Blom has demonstrated his expertise in psychodynamics, business development and consultancy his advice to entrepreneurial business people on the ground and all starters is rooted in the five lessons that he learnt over the years.
And the five pieces of advice are as follows:
First : invest in small private, integer businesses that are independent from unwanted influences.
Second: interest foreign investors with a long-term scope, as there are Angels Investors.
Third: my other economy lesson was ‘cash is king’; so, steer carefully on your revenue streams.
Fourth: incorporate financial services for your clients, this will maximize your sales and secure your revenues.Fifth: hire only business development expertise that aligns with the financial and social circumstances of our country.