Peter Matika, Senior Reporter
WHEN Tafadzwa Gunda (39) lost his father to an accident in 2007, his world came crashing down.
It was a major crisis for his family.
His father, the late National Hero Paul Armstrong Gunda was a Brigadier-General in the Zimbabwe National Army.
Before Mr Gunda’s untimely death, he and his widow Dr Rangarirai Tatenda Gunda were trying their luck in the tourism sector and had co-founded a tourism company in Victoria Falls – Tatenda Safaris in 1993.
Over time, the family realised that grief was not to last forever and picked up the pieces.
They devoted their energy and love into the business in honour of their dearly departed father and husband.
Like clockwork, Tatenda Safaris grew in leaps and bounds leading the family to establish one of the most successful indigenous enterprises in Zimbabwe.
Today Tatenda Safaris has branches in Victoria Falls, Harare and Bulawayo.
“I always knew my father was special but I had no idea what he had created or what kind of skills he utilised on a daily basis to make his many visions come to life.
It was not until I was thrust into his world under some of the most shocking grief any young person can imagine,” said Mr Gunda.
“I really had no comprehension of the complexity of his business life.
Now many years later, an entrepreneur myself, I am creeping closer to 40, I can finally look behind myself and see some of the key truths I have uncovered as I’ve bridged the gap from what I inherited and eventually took the leap to create something of my own.”
He said he had to grasp key elements of business at a young age and with him being the eldest son, had to rise to the occasion and help fend for the family.
“In 2007, my father died in an accident.
His untimely death, now 15 years ago, left my mother, sibling and I at the helm of his rags-to-riches empire.
We had very little knowledge of his company, nor any innate knowledge of what it took to come from nothing and create something.
I was devastated,” reminisces Mr Tafadzwa Gunda, who heads a branch of their family heirloom in Bulawayo.
Today, 29 years later, Tatenda Safaris, which also has a car hire division, is firmly consolidating its position in the tourism industry as one of the country’s fastest growing businesses by registering its footprint in different sectors of the economy.
“Tatenda Safaris is headquartered in Victoria Falls and has branches in Harare and Bulawayo,” said Mr Gunda, who sometime in 2021 was christened Platinum winner — Male Entrepreneur of the Year at the MegaFest National Business Awards.
Mr Gunda said Tatenda Safaris has since its establishment managed to transform Victoria Falls through employment creation and service provision.
“It’s been eons since I was introduced to this industry.
The company is directed by my younger brother Tawanda and myself.
Our head office is in Victoria Falls but we have managed to expand and we have allowed growth to take its course.
I head the Bulawayo branch and my young brother takes the Harare branch,” said Mr Gunda, stating that he headed the transport side of the company.
“Business has its ups and downs like any other business out there.
With transport one will never go wrong as it is a necessity for people to move from point A to point B.
Tourism has its seasons, just like any other business; it has its own challenges as well.
With all that being said I am proud of myself because when I came to Bulawayo Tatenda Safaris was not popular.
I managed to penetrate and make a name for the company and myself. It has not been an easy road.
I had so many challenges but I managed to overcome them. I have managed to learn and grow,” said Mr Gunda.
He said he felt Tatenda Safaris could make a great name, after taking the reins from his late father.
“It was when my father passed away in 2007 that I decided to take the reins and try to help my mother in every way I could because by then she had so much grief and anger.
When my father passed away, we were into tourism only.
We then sat down as a family and decided to expand the business.
“I came to Bulawayo to introduce the transport side of the company and that was when we bought our first bus in 2014, which was for private hire only.
It was a good decision as we realised profits and managed to acquire more buses and cars for private hire. To date we own a large fleet of vehicles that service the country,” said Mr Gunda.
He said Tatenda Safaris also had a large fleet of luxury vehicles that they only hire out privately.
“We have a large fleet of luxury vehicles that we procured with time.
On the larger side of the company, we have 5 buses to date, only hired out to private institutions.
Our clientele ranges from sports organisations, schools, companies, churches and NGOs,” said Mr Gunda.
He said he has a set of unique skills that he managed to acquire with time to get to where he is right now.
He also said he knew very little about business, finance, legalities, taxes or managing employees.
“I won’t pretend I did.
I learned how to ask good questions and ask for more time if I needed to ponder something.
I was lucky to have a solid, trusted team around me and I relied on them,” said Mr Gunda.
He noted that he did not hide from stating and embracing his unique talents.
Mr Gunda mentioned that he also relied on intuition as well as gumption in his day-to-day operations.
“By simply navigating hard times and having the gumption to pursue the non-traditional path, I have also realised that I can inspire other people.
My father knew this.
I am watching with curiosity at how my own story is unfolding.
I have learned through unexpected loss that the young boy who must navigate what he never thought he would have to, can grow into a king full of heart, creativity and a sense of entrepreneurship,” said Mr Gunda. – peterkmatika