community builders:with Takemore Mazuruse
The world has gone digital and some of the most gruelling challenges in this curveball called life require innovative and time-wise thinkers who can proffer apt solutions.
Tech entrepreneur and community builder Vusumuzi Mkhwananzi (pictured) has used technology to develop a product and service that has brought amazing convenience to the cross boarder travellers and traders in Africa and beyond.
Speaking to Standard Style, Mkhwananzi said travelling convenience has for a long time been a headache to many communities in Africa.
“Travelling and trade convenience has been one of the missing links in Africa where the majority of travellers use buses,” Mkhwananzi said.
“From harassment by touts, communication challenges to loss of goods and commodities, the challenges have been insurmountable.
“Through our MyRunner Business model, we have become the solution to travel and trade challenges through our tailor-made MyRunner-Thumeza productm which basically focuses on bringing convenience to the cross-border travellers.”
Mkhwananzi, who is working towards a Master of Business Administration in Impact Entrepreneurship from the Italian University of Cattolica, is a born community development enthusiast who before dedicating himself to full-time entrepreneurship, worked for various humanitarian organisations, such as Medicine San Frontiers (MSF) also known as Doctors without Borders, among others.
According to Mkhwananzi, MyRunner is a platform company for travellers whose initial focus is on cross-border traders through a service that allows them to buy bus tickets, send and receive payments as well as facilitating cross-border trading.
“We are there go to company for cross boarder travel and trading. As the name suggests, we are there trusted ‘runners’ for our clients,” he said.
“Instead of the client running around, we do the running around and make sure that they can book a bus without being harassed, track their bus’ location so that they don’t stress about being left behind, while ensuring safety of their goods in transit.”
The young businessman who had a difficult upbringing having been raised by a domestic worker mother reckons his upbringing had a bearing on his approach to life, hence his business model is more about service to the community that money spinning.
“I believe we are living in a dispensation where our focus should be on providing solutions to on-going problems and challenges than profiteering,” he said.
“When you provide real solutions to community challenges, people pay you and that has been the secret behind the growth of My Runner.
“We are all about bringing convenience as well as security and sable to the modern day traveller and trader. In Africa we travel by bus and My Runner has the perfect package for safe and convenient travel.”
A Young African Leaders Initiative (Yali) Mandela Washington Fellowship Alumni, Mkhwananzi reiterated that his business model was about empowering the marginalised and bringing them confidence and better efficiency in their operations.
“Our operations cover the entire Zimbabwe with branches in Harare, Bulawayo and Beitbridge. We also have presence in South Africa and the United States of America,” he said.
“Thanks to cyber technology, we are also providing service to clients in Mozambique, Zambia, Malawi and Botswana and our hope is to cover the entire region, Africa and the world.”
A respected community builder thanks to his community development work with Yali, his MyRunner business and other community empowerment initiatives targeting those around him, Mkhwananzi reiterated it was the duty of all to develop their communities.
“Growing up as an orphan and looking up to a domestic worker mother I was thrust into entrepreneurship at an early stage and I had to forego the luxuries of childhood,” he said.
“We had the whole world against us and entrepreneurship was our only way out of poverty.
“I grew up selling on the streets and one eye would focus on the municipal police while the other looked out for clients.
“Eventually some would come in with educational support which helped propel me to the growing success story that I am and it is my belief that every one of us must ‘pay it forward’ through empowering the less privileged around them.”
MyRunner Thumeza has brought convenience to both the traveller and the transport owners through secure and timely payments, tracing of buses and goods as well as bringing sanity to an otherwise rowdy transport sector.
“We help the transport owner track their buses, manage their fleet and sales system from their phones as well as take photos on the road.
If you are a trader and you want to receive goods, make payments and make relevant enquiries, MyRunner-Thumeza is the product of choice and we are going global with the vision,” Mkhwananzi said.
He revealed that he was passionate about family and has infused that attribute into his team at My Runner where success is not only measured in financial terms, but also through empowerment of employees.
“I am a family man and I believe even my employees should feel that they belong,” he said.
“My wife is my business partner and friend while the kids inspire and help me distress from the business ambitions.
“We have therefore dedicated a part of our income to educating the team we started this business with so that they don’t get left out.
“I also believe that though you can do everything in business, you also need strong faith. I believe God is in control and it’s because of that faith that we have come this far.”
With eight years of experience, Mkhwananzi has operated various start-up ventures across southern Africa. His My Runner tech start-up, which has won international recognition from Seedstars, is making travelling by bus easier and safer in Africa and the future looks even brighter.
MyRunner has a focus on cross-border networks in Africa and aims to build a financially connected transnational network in Africa.
Mkhwananzi is passionate about using entrepreneurship to solve challenges faced by communities in Africa and the world, and he actively takes part in various local entrepreneurial ecosystem building initiatives in his home country, Zimbabwe.
He also plans to use the networks built and skills learned to bring value to the start-up entrepreneurial ecosystem in Africa.