From humble beginnings in the high-density suburb of Mbare to being the consummate professional who has worked for leading global organisations, Garikai Govati has proven that a negative environment cannot hold back a visionary.
“Gazah” as he is affectionately known, attended Chirodzo Primary School and Harare High School before he got a scholarship to study in the United States. He studied Mathematics- Economics with a minor with Dance and Music at Wesleyan University though he claims that he can’t sing to save a life.
He then spent a year at the London School of Economics focusing on the technical aspects of the subject of Economics.
After graduating from Wesleyan, Garikai worked for an investment bank formerly known as Merrill Lynch in London for two years before moving to South Africa in 2008 to join a private equity firm called Emerging Capital Partners (ECP).
He stayed in the Private Equity industry for 4 years before going back to the United States to do an MBA at the Wharton School of Business in Pennsylvania from 2011-2013 where he focused on Healthcare Management and Finance.
“Gazah” currently works for the Oppenheimer Family Office in Johannesburg specialising in infrastructure investments across Sub-Saharan Africa.
“Throughout my life, I have always had someone help me in one way or another to reach that extra goal. I have countless names of people that have been influential in my life to date and I have dedicated my life to creating an enabling environment for young people to achieve their goals,” says Garikai.
He has dedicated his time to help others reach their goals and realise their aspirations. This he does through helping students in Zimbabwe to either get an education or pursue a particular talent.
He also uses his work as a platform to improve the lives of Africans across the continent through ensuring that they have the necessary infrastructure for development.
In line with his passion of touching lives, Garikai pursued an MBA in the healthcare sector from a finance angle with the hope of bettering the African healthcare landscape.
“I have the biggest respect for medical professionals and I have a lot of friends in this field doing some amazing work. I hope that at some point in my life I will have an opportunity to work with medical practitioners in improving the quality of African lives.”
Garikai enjoys seeing the results of his efforts. He concedes that people all over the world work hard every day for different reasons and yielding positive results from the hard work is always a challenge. “Every time I manage to reach an end goal, it is always encouraging to look back at the effort I put in and the impact I will have on people’s lives. This is what gets me out of bed every morning – a purpose to impact people’s lives positively!” he says.
Growing up in Mbare was no easy feat for “Gazah”. He grew up under tough conditions with limited means to be successful. It was a challenge that he managed to overcome to some extent by staying focused on his goals and with some help. “I do not regret anything about growing up in Mbare, if anything, Mbare has shaped who I am and I think I am more street-smart than I would have otherwise been,” he explained.
On education, Garikai believes that he got more than an education from Wharton, “I think that what I received from Wharton is more than just an Ivy League education, whatever that means. Meeting people from all walks of life with experiences that span all professions, be is private, public or service, taught me to be open-minded and an all-rounder.” Being instructed by some of the best faculty staff in the world gave him an understanding of what it takes to best perform in the work environment.
These experiences have positively impacted his career and he hopes to keep developing it going forward.
For fun, Garikai plays soccer. He has played soccer all his life and has had the opportunity to play with the likes of Edward Sadomba, Thomas Svesve, Tafadzwa Takawira, Benjamin Marere, just to mention but a few. “I still play, albeit not as much.
My dream is to start a soccer academy in Zimbabwe and eventually Africa that will produce the first World Cup winning team from Africa! Dreams do come true!.” Garikai is married and has a beautiful 4-year-old daughter who keeps him on his feet at all times. He travels a lot for work, spending about 75% of his time on the road and every time he comes back home, he enjoys spending time with his daughter.
Seeing African people making it on the global scene is what inspires Garikai. It shows him that dreams come true and he is continuously working towards being an influential African.
His mother is his biggest role model! He has never seen any stronger person in his entire life and prays every day that he doesn’t disappoint her. Garikai believes that life should be taken in baby steps. Everything has its own time and patience is key in making positive impactful decisions.