By Hebert Zharare and Noah Pito
The coming in of Simbisa Brands Zimbabwe (Chicken Inn and Pizza Inn) and OK Zimbabwe Supermarket in Karoi, has changed the complexion of this usually sleepy town, setting the stage for more investors to flood the area.
Pick n Pay, Farm and City and N Richards, have been major chain stores operating in Karoi, but the coming in of Simbisa and OK Zimbabwe has seen the town receiving a major face-lift.
Karoi town secretary, Wellington Mutikani, said the two major investors had not only amplified the level of confidence that residents now had on their council, but had generated immense interest from other big corporates wishing to setup businesses in the town.
“Indeed the coming in of the two investors is a big plus not only for our residents who now have a diverse range of services, but for travellers and the local business community as well. A lot of people have already started benefiting on the employment side.
“The good news is that they are employing people from within the district except on critical posts. The two retail giants will offer convenience to travellers in a big way, particularly those using the Harare—Chirundu Highway.
“When they stop-over in Karoi, they will definitely know they get all the services they require,” said Mr Mutikani.
For travellers from Chirundu to Harare, Karoi becomes the first major stop-over and the investment by the two companies, will see them getting a wide choice of services.
Said Mr Mutikani: “On another note this development has since started attracting other investors.
“Quite a number of investors are already on their way here to invest in different fields. Among them are tobacco companies and universities that now want to establish themselves in this town,” he said.
Major economic activities in the Karoi area border around agriculture (tobacco, maize farming and horticulture).
There is also serious tourism business in nearby areas and gold mining, making the town a major services centre for key sectors of the economy.
A businessman who declined to be named said the competition the two companies were bringing in the town was healthy as it will see businesses getting back to basics, charging fair prices for fear of losing customers to new entrants.
“I run a small business locally but I can admit without naming people that our colleagues have been short-changing customers. The prices were exorbitant and desperate customers had no choice. Now the coming in of these guys and others to follow will see many people going back to basics and this is good for our customers,” he said.
A resident, Ernest Dzawanda of Chiedza Suburb in the town, said he was optimistic that the coming in of big investors such as OK Zimbabwe and Simbisa was a sign of good times beginning to roll for the small town.
“Remember big investors also attract big investors. We expect more investment to come following the advent of these two. We are very happy because we now have a diversity of services available to us.
“Residents tend to also have more confidence in their local authority when it is able to attract investment so that we get different services including jobs to fight poverty,” he said.
Simbisa (Chicken Inn) opened its doors to the pubic in Karoi late last year, while Ok Zimbabwe is set to open shop in a few weeks’ time pending final touches on the construction works. The Herald