Some of the country’s successful businesspeople were born into their wealth.
By Staff Reporter
However, it’s not the case with Jacob Esau, director of Furniture Direct International who started his furniture business with nothing. Through hard work, talent, grit and a bit of luck, Esau has managed to rise and establish a business that stands on its own.
His story reminds many that it is possible to overcome any obstacles in life, from parents passing away, to extreme poverty and more.
The God-fearing Esau has persevered despite the overwhelming odds against him.
“I grew up under the custody of my grandmother after my mother passed on when I was a little boy. As of my father, I don’t know much about him,” Esau told The Standard Style on Wednesday.
Establishing a furniture business that now competes with some of the country’s renowned firms was not a stroll in the park for Esau, who at one time walked bare-footed on the dusty streets of Chegutu selling anything to make ends meet.
Direct Furniture International started from the ashes as a beverage packaging company that Esau had started in Chegutu after he had quit his vending business.
“I am not ashamed to talk about my past. At some point in my life, I was a vendor and it is something that inspired me to establish a company like Furniture Direct International,” he said.
After being laid off in 2005 and finding himself jobless during the height of a national economic downfall, Esau did the last thing anyone would have expected: he decided now was the perfect time to open a small business.
“I sold floor polish with the intention of saving money to start my own small business. I managed to establish a beverage packaging business, which I called Atlantica and it did very well until the 2008 economic meltdown,” he said.
“I tried to resuscitate the beverages business with some white guy and relocated to Harare in 2009 and the business did very well, thanks to the multi-currency system. However, the marriage did not last and we parted ways and I relaunched Atlantica beverages.”
Armed with a business plan and a marketing background, Esau ventured into the furniture business that saw him establishing Direct Furniture International.
“We started the business doing furniture maintenance in schools before we expanded into a school furniture manufacturing company. We have supplied our furniture to thousands of schools across the country and last year, we diversified, bringing new opportunities like kitchen fittings, office furniture and kids furniture,” he said.
“Our furniture business has grown over the years, and we have had bigger organisations supporting us and we managed to engage bigger establishments and institutions like the State Procurement Board, which has given us the opportunity to get tenders from the government and other institutions.”
However, Esau bemoaned the liquidity crunch.
“This is the monster in our work. The cash crisis is impeding business flow with some suppliers refusing cash transfers and other online transactions. We hope the new political dispensation will correct such ills,” he said.
Apart from operating a furniture business, Esau is also director of Esbro Holdings, incorporating Esbro Security, which is into sliding gates, and Esbro Beverages.
He said small to medium entrepreneurs should regularise and formalise their businesses.
“We need to formalise our businesses so that we enhance our chances of getting deals with big corporates or the government. We should not be seen as cry-babies all the time,” he said.
“The other issue is that as young businesspeople, we need God in everything that we do. We need financial discipline and this can only be achieved if we believe and trust the Almighty.”