You probably think that the economy and leverages for business are the very worst in your nation right? You have convinced yourself that the Government’s ineptitude and the high interest rates offered by unsympathetic banking institutions are a bane to your launching out with that product, idea or enterprise. You might be right; then again, you might be wrong.
Zimbabwe. The Zimbabawean dollars collapsed in 2008 due to hyperinflation. Businesses crashed. In 2009, they adopted the American dollars and slowly, despite the odds, a few entrepreneurs have taken the bold step of starting over again.
Even though manufacturing had collapsed after years of underinvestment and the long-term capital needed to revive it was scant, Richard Saziya, refused to succumb to the signs of the times; he was alive after all, and where there is life, there is hope for new beginnings.
Richard, a graduate from the Mutare Boys High School, has years of experience in the timber industry, from contract milling through to the management of a furniture manufacturing operation.
In 2009, Richard Saziya and John Sanders –a chartered Accountant- founded Tsanga Timbers, a saw-mill in a forest close to Nyanga, 280km (173 miles) North-East of Harare. They cut wood sourced from carefully managed pine plantations Zimbabwean forest and turn it into products like wooden pallets, benches for schools and ceiling installations for homes.
A cutting machine, bought from China for $19,000 USD makes this possible. Tsanga Timbers also sells a kit for a three-bedroom pine cabin for $375 USD which Richard designed as a starter home but which has excited interest from tourist lodges. The company’s doing well with that product, and thinking of expanding to neighboring countries.
“Tsanga” was inspired by the “Tsanga River” which flows through the Troutbeck Valley in the Eastern Highlands of Zimbabwe, where the timber is derived. Known locally as Troutbeck, the source of the Tsanga River flows into the Gairezi River and ultimately forms part of the mighty Zambezi.
Richard is very well acquainted with the Troutbeck Valley, assisting landowners in managing and maintaining their plantations alongside the Tsanga River and working to protect the increasingly vulnerable plantations from widespread annual fires.
The vision of Tsanga Timbers is simple: to deliver high quality pine products to Zimbabwe and the region, and to take advantage of the latest technology whilst operating in an environment-friendly manner; continually striving to reduce waste and minimise the energy foot print.
Tsanga Timbers recently completed the construction of a 144m3 Solar Drying Kiln. This innovative method of curing timber is supposed to be extremely effective and environment-friendly because it does not require the burning of fossil fuels or the use of an external power source. In addition, it ensures that they have a continuous supply of high quality, dried timber, even during the extended rainy season in Nyanga.
It may not yet be uhuru for Richard Saziya and his team at Tsanga Timbers but I bet we can all agree that they are headed in the right direction. Tough times don’t last –even after decades of reign- but tough people do!
What is your excuse?
Ponder. Learn. Act. Repeat.
Richard can be contacted on:
+263 (0) 772 967 867 or at