But given the current socio-economic conditions many are forced to become entrepreneurs of all sorts in a bid to survive and live a meaningful life.
While some have good tales of their inspirational struggles to share, the reverse is the case with a lot of unemployed graduates whose dreams have been turned to ashes by the collapse of the economy.
Among those is Edward Dhliwayo, 30. He studied Political Administration at the University of Zimbabwe and graduated in 2007. He had high hopes that as a graduate he would be eminently employable and eagerly joined the job hunting trail. When it became apparent that nothing was available, he decided to go into the movie industry in 2009.
Art of baking
He was under the tutelage of the late Walter Muparutsa, one of the nation’s greatest actors, for six months before his brother, George, who is a baker, encouraged him to learn the art of cake-baking.
In 2010 Dhliwayo received formal training from his brother for a year and then became his assistant at a bakery shop in Harare. After learning how to bake different types of cakes, mould characters, design cakes and even make snacks, he launched his own line of cake-baking business in Chimanimani in 2011.
He had to sell his two laptops and textbooks to get capital to start the business. “I had some challenges at the outset of this venture. The major challenge I had was that when I started my business, nobody wanted to patronize me because they believed I was still an amateur. Therefore, things were difficult for me. I was cash-strapped and nobody was willing to help me,” he said.
“After much perseverance, one day I took 10 cakes to a church for sale and all of them were bought. Many women in the church liked them and they began contracting me to bake cakes for weddings and birthdays,” said Dhliwayo.
“Word spread in Chimanimani and I was very impressed with what the women told me when they tasted the cakes. This gave me the courage to keep going on,” he added.
Now he bakes nothing less than 10 big cakes and plenty of small cakes for teas every week. He also delivers his cakes to his customers at the appropriate time. Dhliwayo now supplies hotels, restaurants, supermarkets, tuck-shops and individuals. He said he earned not less than $200 per week after paying all his expenses
“If I have to deliver four or five designed cakes on Wednesday, I bake on Monday and do the icing on Tuesday, so that I will not disappoint my customers,” he explained, adding that a good baker has to be creative and aware of certain changes in the society.
“This means I have to update my skill. I always make sure I am conversant with the developments going on in the world and at times, I take my time on research to keep myself abreast of new things,” he said.
Dhliwayo also taught his wife Agnella to bake and she now helps him in the business. They bake many different types of cakes, including sponge, chocolate, marble, fruit, strawberry, white forest, black forest, chocolate indulgence, red velvet and coconut cakes.
“My customers mainly like sponge cake and fruit cake. Sponge cake is good for birthday, while fruit cake is good for wedding or anniversary because it stands out from other cakes,” he said.
Agnella added: “Things are now working well for us. We are able to look after our family (two kids) and pay their school fees. I am happy with our progress so far and we are looking forward to growing bigger in the future. With the high levels of unemployment, I would want to encourage other women to support their husbands in such initiatives.”
50 youths trained
A customer Tendai Mukaro said: “I have tasted Dhliwayo’s cakes and they are so nice and unique. I have been supporting him for a long time now and I have also introduced many customers to him.”
Amos Gwitira, a manager at Ngangu Supermarket, said: “We have been ordering his cakes and they are fast movers. We have not had any problems in selling them.”
Besides training his wife, Dhliwayo has trained more than 50 youths who are scattered all over the country. One of the beneficiaries is James Kahari from Harare. “I am now able to bake cakes using the training and encouragement I received from Mr Dhliwayo. I am happy that I am now selling the cakes and getting income to support my family,” he said, adding that he was looking forward to expanding and employing other people in his business.
Dhliwayo has now been hired by other bakeries throughout the country to train bakers for a fee. He has also travelled to South Africa, Botswana and Zambia on baking business. He said he had been hired to bake cakes by most embassies in Harare for their important functions.