community builders:with Takemore Mazuruse
Persistence Elison Gwanyanya is a respected economist, chartered banker, trade finance specialist and entrepreneur, whose Bullion Group is fast-making strides in an industry with known gladiators who have enjoyed unparalleled monopoly for a long time.
At only 37, Gwanyanya’s Bullion Group — which boasts of eight entities, namely Bullion Leaf Zimbabwe, Bullion Leaf Exports, Bullion Commodities International, Bullion Traders International (South Africa), Percycon Global Fund Managers (South Africa) and Percycon Advisory Services — is shaking the market and he says his secret to success is remembering the less privileged as he aims for the top.
“I have seen it all in the corporate sector. I started my career in 2006 at Nedbank Zimbabwe (formerly MBCA) as a Graduate Trainee and on completion of the programme in 2007, I was promoted to a managerial position in Corporate and Institutional Banking,” Gwanyanya said.
“I have also worked in various management positions in Corporate and Institutional Banking as well as Risk Management, where I got exposed to Economic and Financial Analysis, Trade and Structured Finance as well as Corporate Finance.
“While at the Bank, I moved into Advisory Services, which saw me becoming a columnist in one of the local weeklies. I regularly feature on national TV as an economist and balanced commentator on Zimbabwe’s economics issues but my other passion is community, development through uplifting those around me, hence the outreach programmes.”
Gwanyanya, whose current focus is availing scholarships for excelling students around the country, says he will always be thankful to God for his life and he will do his best to remember the less privileged including those from his former school St Anthony’s High in Zaka, Masvingo, which laid the foundation to the success he is today.
“A story is told in the Bible of the lepers who after being healed by Jesus went on about their life as if no marked transformation had taken place. Only one out of the 10 lepers remembered to go back to Jesus and offer his gratitude,” he said.
“Not that Christ was one for fame and accolades, but the Bible denotes that He even asked the one leper if it was not 10 lepers that He healed and out of those only one came back to say thank you.
“This explains my current preoccupation where I am availing scholarships to disadvantaged but excelling students from identified schools around Zimbabwe including my own former school. I want to be that grateful leper.
“The scholarship programme is targeting 100 primary schools and 10 secondary schools with St Anthony’s Primary and Secondary schools becoming the initial beneficiaries.
“For transparency and accountability, beneficiaries of the initiative will be chosen by the school’s administration, while Bullion Group will provide the material, technical and financial support.”
Gwanyanya described the schools scholarship drive as supportive of his Bullion Group’s vision to create a sustainable brand which would outlive its founders at the same time contributing towards empowerment of all.
“The scholarship programme targets pupils with potential but currently facing financial problems to continue with their studies especially at this time when our economy is experiencing challenges of historical proportion.
“Importantly, the scholarship programme targets disciplined students who are more suitable to represent the flourishing Bullion Group brand. I strongly believe education is the gateway to success, hence this initiative,” he said.
To cater for students who may not necessarily be academically gifted, the Bullion Group launched the Zaka Schools Sports Tournament last year which saw a total 42 schools competing in a soccer tourney which was eventually won by Zivavose High School.
“Not every student is academically gifted and we are happy to have launched an annual soccer tournament targeting 42 schools in Zaka and we hope this will help unearth talent which has been wasting away for a long time given the limited opportunities in outlying areas,” Gwanyanya said.
The respected financial advisory services expert also revealed that as the Bullion Group grows, their community development programmes and initiatives will also spread to more areas around Zimbabwe.
“Yes, we are currently targeting 100 primary schools and 10 secondary schools with the scholarship programme while the Zaka sports tournament benefits the mentioned 42 schools, but our intention is to reach out to the entire Zimbabwe as our brand grows. We are all about service and we will never depart from that thrust,” he said.
Gwanyanya highlighted that Zimbabwe’s problems and challenges called for concerted efforts and it was imperative that players work together towards a holistic approach.
“Zimbabwe continues to grapple with various humanitarian challenges owing to the operating environment and it is my hope that various players join Bullion Group and other stakeholders in providing meaningful solutions. We are the change we want to see and we can’t afford to fold our hands,” he said.