They say you can do anything you set your mind to, and Jerry Nyazungu, Founder and CEO of M & J Consultants is proof that this notion is true. He shares the story of his humble beginnings in the rural area of Watsomba and his remarkable journey from almost homeless to a legacy building entrepreneur driven by a passion to see other entrepreneurs succeed…
I was born and grew up in the rural area of Watsomba in Mutare. I had a very tough upbringing that was characterised by poverty but all thanks to God, I am here today. Throughout my primary school days, I suffered from asthma and I wasn’t allowed to participate in sports of any kind. This changed when I went for my secondary school studies at Marist Brothers in Nyanga where upon arrival, I threw away all the cards my mother had given me to prove that I was asthmatic so that I could be exempted from participating in sporting activities. I spent four years at Marist Brothers then went to Hartzell for my A Level studies. After finishing my A levels, I wanted to venture out on my own. I got a temporary teaching job at Nyamhingura High School before moving to Harare to work part time at Edgars.
The story is inspirational today but during those initial days, it was tough. When I moved to Harare in 2006, the first job I got was at Edgars where I was working at their factory at Simon Mazorodze on a temporary basis. At first, things seemed to be moving on well until I was told that my contract would not be renewed. This was on the 16th of June in 2006 so I had less than 15 days to get my act together and look for alternative means of survival. And just when I thought things couldn’t get any worse, on the 27th of June, I was given 3 day’s notice by my uncle who I was staying with at the time to vacate his home and look for a place to stay.
Jobless and now almost homeless, I quickly searched for and found a place to stay and using the small savings I had from my salary at Edgars, purchased some Airtime and went to the corner of Patrenta and Willowvale in Glenview to sell it . It wasn’t easy and I was often harassed by police and lost a significant amount of stock. While vending, I was also studying for my CIS and three years later, I got a job at AFA as a bookkeeper. I then moved from one company to the other until I landed a job at ZPH where I was from 2011 to 2014 when I eventually started M&J.
Persistence. I had all these challenges that might have prompted me to give up but regardless of what happened, I kept on going. Several times I would have relatives call my parents back in Watsomba telling them how I was struggling and looking like a tout but I was never deterred, I kept on going. I now understand the fundamental rule of life; you just have to keep going regardless of the hurdles faced. If you persist, nothing can stop you.
While at ZPH, the company laid off their sales team and gave them stock to start their own bookshops. All these salespeople came to me for help with setting up their businesses as they needed company registrations, bookkeeping, accounting and tax clearances. I helped them the best way I could and devised a strategy where I could help them monthly for a fee. That is how I discovered my passion which is to help Entrepreneurs succeed. Apart from that, I have always been passionate about Zimbabwe and I believe that the country holds a lot of potential. I kept asking myself how I could contribute to the development of Zimbabwe as a country and I figured that the only way I could do that was by employing people directly and also helping other entrepreneurs build and scale organizations to employ other people who would then contribute positively to the development of the economy.
We want to impact Africa’s economic Growth by helping our clients build timeless businesses; businesses that outlast them.
In interacting with other successful people, I noticed that people are often shy of talking about their humble beginnings even though they might have inspiring stories to share. I wrote ‘The Chartered Vendor’ to inspire everyone who is fighting and working hard for their dreams. I wanted to show the African child that it is possible.
Going through the book, one thing that one will notice is that the book is 50% my story and 50% business lessons learnt from the story. This is because I wanted the book to educate entrepreneurs as much as it inspires them.
Definitely, I have set ambitious goals for myself in terms of publicizing my work using Social Media, my Podcast, YouTube Channel and Blog. Apart from that, there is another book in the works that will be coming out in 2022.
My advice is simple. Just get started; the time will never be just right.
The best way to invest is to invest in yourself. You are your best and permanent resource. Buy books, attend business seminars, read blogs, teach yourself new skills. You can never go wrong by investing in yourself.
I have a lifelong vision to build a multi-million dollar organization that employs over 1500 young people. In 5 years, I should have progressed significantly towards achieving that vision.
Reading is the cheat code to life. If you want to be anything in this life, first be a reader.
By: Chido Kakora