MUTYEBERE TAWANDA: The brains behind Chicken Slice
The brand comprises Chicken Slice, Creamy Slice, Pizza Slice and Slice Express. Naturally the question that has been on almost everyone’s lips has been on the personality behind the brand. The driver of the brand is none other than Packers International founder and chief executive Mr Tawanda Mutyebere.
After rising from humble beginnings Tawanda was driven by a vision to be his “own boss” one day and this saw him attaining a brand name in the local food industry. Tawanda grew up in a Christian family and said he believes that “Mwari vanoropafadza basa remaoko” (God blesses the works of your hands) thus believes in self-employment.
At 35, he has vast experience in finance and administration in the private sector at senior level and has always aspired to be a businessman. “I always had that ambition of becoming a businessman because when I was young I always used to say when I grow up I want to be a businessman. So it was always my prayer.” he said.
The company opened its first project on May 1 2010 along the Harare- Masvingo highway at the 192km peg in Mvuma. “The Mvuma food court incorporates a pizzeria, coffee and ice-cream, fried chicken and an express convenience superette. “The major thrust was and is still to leave a lasting impression after the World Cup 2010. Over this period, the company has sourced state-of-the-art equipment,” said Tawanda.
Tawanda decided to venture in the fast food business after the realisation that a void had been created due to a slackening in the provision of quality products to the market. “The Slice brand aims to be an effective and efficient preferred supplier of all fast foods and convenience groceries,” said Tawanda.
He added that their products are well received and they have had an “awesome” response to their food range since the company’s inception last year. “We have made great inroads in the local market and continue to do so and our
customers’ positive response to our food is testimony enough that we are treading on the right track,” he said. The Mvuma project, Tawanda said, “has brought massive development to an otherwise deserted mining town and now employs close to 100 local people”, He added that the sky is the limit for Packers International whose short-term vision is to open as many branches as possible around the country to satisfy the Zimbabwean market.
The company opened its second and third food outlets in March and September respectively in Harare. Tawanda said the expected increase in capacity utilization through branch network expansion would present additional opportunities for business growth. “The market is an all inclusive catering from the low- to the high-income consumers, diet conscious to non- particular product clientele and those in need of refreshments,” he added.
Tawanda is also chief executive and founder of Con-Tools (Pt) Limited whichspecialises in the supply of tar products and construction of roads. Con- Tools is the first company he founded in 2004 and has been servicing the Government and public sectors since then. “It has become an industrial and household brand in bitumen and emulsions contracts and supplies. “Con-Tools has carried out works of repute where it was contracted to supply and apply bitumen, modified tar, cold mix and emulsions on several projects.
He also owns other subsidiary companies, which are Gas Africa and Blossom Bridal. Tawanda aspires to be an internationally recognised businessperson in 10 years’ time.
His view on the economy: “The economy is improving but for us to improve we need to be innovative. We need to rebuild our economy by coming up with new ideas in the industry and having new entrepreneurs emerging from different sectors. “The industry that I am in right now is dominated by foreigners and locals need to realise that we have potential in running our own economy and creating employment. I am proud to be part and parcel of building economy of our country and proud to be recognised as one of the best entrepreneurs,” said Tawanda
In 2010 the Packers International boss won the Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce Entrepreneur of the Year award for the Midlands province. “Our vision is to position slice brand to international standards hence attaining ISO certification. “‘To become second to none through a combination of innovative quality product procurement, aggressive market development and customer service deliverv strategies,” he said.
He believes in the saying of one great philosopher that “good fortune often happens when opportunity meets with preparations.” Therefore, he pointed out that people aspiring to be businesspersons should make use of opportunities and must always take the significant steps towards achievement.
Tawanda’s advice to young people: “I urge young people to work hard. Zimbabweans are known as hardworking people in other countries like South Africa and Botswana. “How can we be hard workers in other countries and not in our own country. Let’s utilise our resources to build our economv. Great minds must be ready not only to take opportunities but to make them.”
He did his primary education at Ngondyore Primary School from Grade 1 up to 4 in Bikita before moving to Mashava where he finished his primary at Gath’s Mine Primary School.
The father of three did his secondary at Temeraire High School before proceeding to Masvingo Technical School for his tertiary education. He proceeded to the Great Zimbabwe College where he studied for ICM and CISdiplomas.
”At first I drew inspiration from my father because he was a businessman in his own right and owned a carpentry shop where he employed about six people. “He was a mine worker at the same time and complemented his salary with money from the carpentry shop. He was a hard worker and he really inspired and nurtured me in many ways” he said
“I just enjoy singing and I have got no other hobby that I enjoy beyond that,” he said. Before venturing into business Tawanda concentrated on music and has a number of albums to his name. He is a recipient of two Zimbabwe Music Awards for Male Gospel Artiste of the Year in2006 and 2007 respectively.
“My last album was in 2007 in South Africa with other renowned artises there and I am planning to release another album soon,” said Tawanda Among his albums are “Ruponeso”, “Mharidzo”, “Anesu” with the hit song “Ikoko” and Mweya with the hit song “Mweya”
He is married to Juliane, who is the executive director of Packers International