[Startup Interview] Tawanda Chitewe, CEO, iSeven Consultants, Zimbabwe
iSeven Consultants is a Zimbabwe based startup offering retail management consulting services. It has carved a niche in solving clients’ challenges in operations, procurement and inventory management, human resources and public relations. Tawanda Chitewe explains.
Tell us about iSeven Consultants
iSeven Consultants is a retail management consulting company whose core business, as the tag line states, is 'untapping the infinite potential within'. It is based in Harare Zimbabwe.
The core business is enhancing profitability and increasing market share for our clients through innovation and human capital development. It was founded by in 2019 by Obediah Tawanda Chitewe who has been in the Zimbabwean retail industry for close to 15 years.
He started off from an entry level position as a till packer and managed to reach senior managerial positions in different retail/ wholesale companies. During that period he gained experience in customer service, procurement, public relations, inventory management, retail operations and employee training and development.
He holds a Master of Science degree in Development Studies and a Bachelor of Science Degree in Sociology.
How is your company financed?
Right now financing has been a challenge, in the beginning it was funded by the founder’s savings from formal employment which was used to register the company and buy initial assets. Now it's a combination of money flowing into the business from client payments and a content marketing section we are setting up.
What industry does your company operate in?
Why did you start iSeven Consultants? What opportunities did you see?
I was in the retail industry for over ten years, and in that period I had friends come to me or refer other people to me for help with their retail operations. I also had a lot of varsity and polytechnic students visit my office for help with their retail, procurement and logistics assignments.
The more I did this and the more knowledge I acquired in the industry, the more gaps I saw. One day I was so frustrated by my employer that I thought it best to stop hopping from one retailer/ wholesaler to another and start my own thing. I ended up settling for consulting.
What problem or problems does your company solve?
In simpler terms we help people manage their businesses and get the most out of their teams. In retail we help solve challenges in operations, procurement and inventory management, human resources and public relations.
What are the unique selling points for your business?
To begin with, we set up a team of professionals from diverse backgrounds, including individuals that have had international experience. Our greatest strength, however, lies in our solutions which are grounded in the social sciences, that is, sociology and psychology. These help us better understand our clients, their needs, and the most effective solutions and implementation strategies.
Who are your customers?
Our customers are retailers and businesses within related fields, such as manufacturing, supply chain and logistics. However, services can also be extended to corporates and those in the hospitality industry.
What are the dynamics of the retail management consulting business?
The first thing is innovation, we constantly have to research and track global trends and innovation, how to improve operations, procurement, customer service, and how legislation and the economy will affect it. Then there is also the fact that training human beings is not a static routine.
What does your company need in order to grow?
Right now the major challenge has been capital. For us to grow and reach the desired level we need capital to buy assets that can allow us to attract and interact with larger clients or companies
What is your growth strategy?
We have been offering free consulting services to selected startups to gain traction. We are also partnering with a digital marketing firm to conduct online training courses. Marketing has been an in-house thing, through content creation and social media marketing. We have been identifying small corporates and medium sized retailers with hope of using these to gain access to larger players in the industry.
Where do you want to scale operations to?
We would like to set up our offices in every country in Southern Africa by 2030 and have international online services by 2023.
What are your plans for the coming 12 months?
We would like to be able to offer recruitment consulting services as well as psychometric tests.
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