‘Just follow your instincts’
IN an environment where job security is no longer guaranteed, a majority of people get distressed on the prospects of being retrenched. As companies downsize in a bid to cut costs given the challenging economic environment, even those who occupy prestigious positions are not spared. It takes a diligent mind to pick up the pieces, rise from the ashes and carve your own profile as a business person.
Such is the story of Mr Divine Mhambi-Hove (38) who refused to be crushed by the circumstances he found himself in.
Business Chronicle met Mhambi-Hove at his workplace near OK Mart complex in Bulawayo where he runs Divine Technologies, a company that is in the business of car washing and restaurant service. He employs 33 people.
The entity has nine car washing sections that can operate simultaneously and eight vacuuming areas, which offer a full valet service, a deep washing technique in the interior.
Mr Mhambi-Hove narrated his journey: “I’m an accountant by profession and I lost my job in 2010 when the company I worked for closed shop. I then worked at a car wash in Bulawayo, shuttling cars,” said Mr Mhambi-Hove.
“I interacted with different people and in that process I began to pick up customers’ needs. I picked up what customers needed, like chairs and newspapers, things which were often taken for granted.”
Out of this realisation he says he set out to establish his own business, which was not an easy road. The path required perseverance, hard work and the will to succeed, says Mr Mhambi-Hove, who says his family is his source of strength.
He says he got start up capital from family members to rent a small space and buy a few working tools. It was from this humble beginning that the business grew. Today the company operates from a big warehouse that is divided into three sections. One section has a neatly decorated restaurant, offices and a news centre for the convenience of clients.
The two other sections are the entry and exit sides separated by a tiled, lighted walkway with small television screens, which flight advertisements of different companies. The company has partnered with MoB Capital, a thriving Bulawayo-headquartered microfinance institution with footprint across the country. The partnership is expected to facilitate expansion of the business.
“Part of our expansion project includes having a gym at the back and a big news centre, which will have newspapers and computers so that one can do other things while their car is being washed,” said Mr Mhambi-Hove.
He said the restaurant offers traditional foods after realising that there is a correlation between healthconsciousness and driving.
“This is the logic behind the gym concept, which is still in the pipeline. The place has become a favourite rendezvous because of the services we offer, which includes free Wi-Fi.”
Mr Mhambi-Hove’s vision is to expand the business to include a children’s playing area.
Missing in this grand plan for the future is a bar, which Mr Mhambi-Hove said was raised by his clients who feel the service would attract many motorists.
“I am a very devoted Christian and would like to keep this place as clean as possible and I feel that if we factor in a bar then we’ve alienated some of our customers who do not drink alcohol,” he said.
His word of advice to other budding entrepreneurs is that: “Don’t take an idea that is not yours. Work hard, get your priorities right, be hands on”. — @ BiancaMlilo
Divine Technologies employees at work. Inset, Mr Divine Mhambi-Hove