By Takemore Mazuruse
Vidal Sassoon posits that the only place where success comes before work is in the dictionary and this assertion rings true for Frontline Contracting boss Tamuka Chihota, whose construction company is making shockwaves in the local construction industry.
The young entrepreneur, who was born in Mhondoro and had very humble beginnings, believes his business is about making a difference in the lives of many while plugging the house needs challenges in Zimbabwe.
“I grew up under very humble circumstances. It was a tough upbringing and life was generally hard,” Chihota said.
“My parents were peasant farmers and my father always exhibited entrepreneurial mindset and skills.
“My father always despised white collar jobs and he had to leave his full-time job at Kango pots in Bulawayo in 1975 to become a farmer.
“He always tried his hand in many things and that made a big difference in his life.”
That training from his father made the Frontline Contracting boss an entrepreneur at heart and as early as 14 years old, he knew he didn’t need a job. His mind was set on becoming his own boss and true to his belief, that dream has become a reality and the future looks even brighter.
The 35-year-old construction industry enthusiast was born and educated in Gweru where he attended St Patricks’ High School before moving to the University of Zimbabwe where he graduated with a humanities degree in 2007.
“After graduation I went on to work for a construction company owning retail estates in the United Arab Emirates. It was during that stint that I decided I wanted to come back home and start my own enterprise,” he said.
“Then I wasn’t clear on what exactly I wanted to do, but I was hungry to come and start my own business. I was a University of Zimbabwe degree holder and also had various other diplomas in Personnel Management and Payroll Administration.
“Practically I should be pursuing a career in Human Management, but I saw no relevance in what I was studying and what I wanted to do in life, hence the shift into construction entrepreneurship and to this day I don’t regret that move.
“Every time I look at the complete structures we erect and the joy and security we give our clients, I am highly encouraged.”
Chihota said one’s professional qualification should not limit their horizons given how dynamic life is and the varied opportunities that came one’s way once they set their mind to a life changing trajectory.
“Achieving is not so much about what you studied in school. I believe that anyone who has acquired any form of education is able to run a successful business as long as they are willing to pay the price of learning about that business and developing themselves to the stablished players in that industry.
“My education has only opened my eyes into the world of business, but has no direct link with the day to day activities. However, my education has helped me to mange people in a work environment.”
The businessman’s Frontline Contracting is a service-oriented company, which is fast making a name in the construction industry inspite of the various limitations and operational challenges they have had to content with.
“Our business is all about value addition and customer satisfaction. We sell value and time and always make sure that our business doesn’t only focus on pleasing our customers or satisfying them, but helps them realise their life-long and cherished dreams,” he said.
“We have two divisions; one for construction and building and the other for civil works. Our journey has been amazing . In just three years, we managed to jump from Category H to Category C in building and civil works.
“These categories are a classification based on the nature and value of projects an organisation handles.
“We have managed to do business with reputable firms in a very short period of our existence. Our notable clients include Old Mutual, Zimbabwe Red Cross Society, ZRP, army, MBCA Bank [now Nedbank], Zesa and NetOne to mention a few.”
Frontline Contracting has attained many milestones to date the most important one being the creation of employment, especially in this lean economic environment where most companies are either folding or laying off their staff.
“When working on projects, we employ a variety of skilled personnel, thereby reducing unemployment rate,” he said.
“We also build infrastructure and critical buildings like schools and hospitals. We resuscitate roads thereby minimising carnages due to bad roads.
“We provide work-related learning opportunities to young people in tertiary institutions and colleges.”
The fast-rising construction and civil works company is also involved in a number of community development activities through their corporate social responsibilityprogrammes.
“Since 2015, we have been sponsoring an annual football tournament in Mhondoro, which happens to be my home area,” Chihota said.
“We have also started an initiative of identifying bright underprivileged kids in rural schools to pay for their fees and to buy them uniforms.
“Our target is five students per school and while we kicked off the initiative in Mhondoro, we will spread to other areas.
“Recently we sponsored an upcoming author Kudakwashe Chiwashira to publish his book as well as to launch it. In June last year we started a build a home campaign. The campaign is designed to ensure that we identify those aged above 70 and renovate their homes. This initiative is targeting at least two beneficiaries each year. Next year we are also starting tree-planting initiatives and we will be targeting to plant at least two trees every month.”
Chihota revealed that his family was playing a big part in his success matrix.
“My family is very supportive. My father being a natural entrepreneur is very supportive with ideas and advice,” he said.
“My nieces and nephews have come in handy assisting with strategies and also helping with resource-mobilisation activities.
“The family is always an important backbone for any achievement. At first it was difficult selling my dream to them in a field they knew I knew a little about, but with time they began to appreciate and now I count on them each time I need support.
“My wife prays for me and is always encouraging me, especially when days are dark. Without such a supportive family structure, I doubt we would have achieved all that we have achieved to date.”