The Bicultural Podcast

"My ability to feel at home wherever I choose" | Interview with Gamu Matarira

July 05, 2021 Janina Neumann, Gamu Matarira Season 2 Episode 10
The Bicultural Podcast
"My ability to feel at home wherever I choose" | Interview with Gamu Matarira
Chapters
0:00
Welcome to The Bicultural Podcast
0:44
Experiences of 30 countries
3:49
The impact of cultures and being a Third Culture Kid
21:00
Business opportunities in Africa
38:22
Invitation to The Bicultural Podcast Meet Up
39:18
Thank you for listening
The Bicultural Podcast
"My ability to feel at home wherever I choose" | Interview with Gamu Matarira
Jul 05, 2021 Season 2 Episode 10
Janina Neumann, Gamu Matarira

In the tenth episode of season 2, Janina Neumann interviews Gamu Matarira, founder of Gen A Consultancy.

This episode will give insight into

  • Experiences of 30 countries
  • The impact of cultures and being a Third Culture Kid
  • Business opportunities in Africa

Book your free place at The Bicultural Podcast Meet Up on Thursday, 15th July 2021 2:00pm-3:00pm (BST): meetup.biculturalpodcast.com  

Read the podcast transcript here: transcripts.thebiculturalpodcast.com

If you enjoyed this episode, please don't forget to review, subscribe and share with others :).

www.thebiculturalpodcast.com

Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

In the tenth episode of season 2, Janina Neumann interviews Gamu Matarira, founder of Gen A Consultancy.

This episode will give insight into

  • Experiences of 30 countries
  • The impact of cultures and being a Third Culture Kid
  • Business opportunities in Africa

Book your free place at The Bicultural Podcast Meet Up on Thursday, 15th July 2021 2:00pm-3:00pm (BST): meetup.biculturalpodcast.com  

Read the podcast transcript here: transcripts.thebiculturalpodcast.com

If you enjoyed this episode, please don't forget to review, subscribe and share with others :).

www.thebiculturalpodcast.com

Janina Neumann (00:00):
Welcome to The Bicultural Podcast. The Bicultural Podcast celebrates bicultural individuals and gives insight into cultural differences, to help you improve business relationships. The podcast is presented by myself, Janina Neumann, a bilingual creative, social entrepreneur, and business owner.

Janina Neumann (00:23):
Welcome to The Bicultural Podcast. Today I'm delighted to be joined by Gamu Matarira, founder of Gen A Consultancy. Hi Gamu, how are you?

Gamu Matarira (00:36):
Hi Janina. I'm really, really well thank you. How are you?

Janina Neumann (00:38):
I'm really doing well thank you. Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Gamu Matarira (00:44):
Sure. So I'm Gamu Matarira, and I'm currently based in Bristol, in Gloucestershire, here in the West of England. I'm an entrepreneur, an educator, I'm an advocate for African business. I'm a publisher, a speaker, but most importantly, a mother.

Janina Neumann (01:03):
Aww.

Gamu Matarira (01:03):
I've been to 30 countries and counting and I consider myself a global citizen, basically.

Janina Neumann (01:12):
Fantastic. Oh, there's so much to unpack there. Would you like to tell us a little bit about your journey? How did you get into like 30 different countries? That's amazing.

Gamu Matarira (01:24):
Well, first of all, I was actually born in Edinburgh to two Zimbabwean parents. When we were young my parents traveled a lot with work. There was sort of that generation that got scholarships to leave Africa and better themselves so that they could come back and contribute to their own countries. So as a result, my mother's a doctor, my father's a meteorologist and they would, you know, through their studies, they would have to travel quite a lot. So, you know, did loads and loads of trips when we're younger, you know, across Europe, the US, and then as I sort of started you know, we started to get into more serious schooling and they decided to settle back Zimbabwe. I actually did my six years of high school in Zimbabwe.

Gamu Matarira (02:15):
And then I came back to the pay for university, but I had the bug. I already had the bug. I think, you know, when you're born to parents that are constantly traveling, it's exciting, isn't it when you're a kid? So I just wanted to carry on that life. And that sort of led me to kind of start exploring as a young adult on my own. Traveled through Japan, and of course, Japan, you know, location-wise, you're so close to other Asian countries. So I would spend my holidays just adventuring and discovering, you know, Thailand, Malaysia, China, Singapore, you name it. And then of course, and every roughly five years I'd come back to the UK, I'd miss home. So I'd come back to the UK, and then again, every five years I'd sort of get a bit bored again.

Gamu Matarira (03:02):
I've spent time in the Middle East, which again if you look on the map is so well positioned for travel around so many different parts of the world again. So apart from exploring you know, the Middle East, Oman, the UAE, et cetera, it's so close to Europe as well. It's so close to so many parts of the world. So it just makes travel easy. And of course, I've explored some African countries in the process seeing as you know, that's my area of focus in particular now through my business. But I'm sure we'll talk about that in more detail soon.

Janina Neumann (03:42):
Wow. That's so fascinating and what an experience.

Gamu Matarira (03:47):
Absolutely. Absolutely.

Janina Neumann (03:49):
So what do you think has been the impact of experiencing so many cultures in your life?

Gamu Matarira (03:57):
Well, first of all, I'm basically, I'm a Third Culture Kid, right? So I guess it's interesting when you're born, surrounded by multiple cultures. So being born in Scotland in the late seventies to African parents. So I predominantly grew up between the UK and Zimbabwe earlier on, and then shorter stints in Europe and the US as I said, so I guess I've always considered myself quite a global citizen. And because my parents traveled so much, it became quite normal for me to be in new unfamiliar environments, you know, getting to know the people and the culture, and then, of course, moving on. And as such as a young girl, I was often the only foreigner in the environments I found myself in, but what was interesting is I wasn't actually aware of my colour or my race, or my ethnicity in the context of being in such unfamiliar environment.

Gamu Matarira (04:55):
I just wondered why people kept touching my hair or stroking my face or gestures that I thought were part of saying Greek culture. I remember being in Greece and thinking, this is really odd. You know, we can't speak each other's languages and people will come up to me and just speaking in their local, in their native languages to each other, be touching my sister and I's. We had Afros as small children. Touching our hair and feeling our skin, and we had no idea what they were saying. So I just felt as though, okay, well perhaps that's just what they do. It's obvious that we're not Greek and in my mind, I was just from England. So it was probably just a curiosity thing. However, as an adult, I actually married into a Japanese family. And that was when I was 28.

Gamu Matarira (05:40):
So, and we had our son whilst still living in Japan, and that in itself was an experience. And now I am too raising a Third Culture Kid. So he was born in Japan to a black, British mum and a Japanese father. He lived in Edinburgh for a year and a half, and we've moved between England and Japan before he spent four years in the Middle East and briefly went to school in Ireland, but thanks to the COVID pandemic, he actually returned to the Middle East where I was finishing up a contract, and now we're here in Bristol. So it's amazing. It's absolutely amazing because I can see that what's our norm is just, which is really magical on a day-to-day basis, is quite different for a lot of people. And in terms of the impact, I'd say the biggest impact multiculturalism has had on my life as I got older and became more aware of that, I guess I accept myself as being quite a hybrid, being a Third Culture Kid.

Gamu Matarira (06:40):
But also I acknowledge that it definitely had an impact on my identity as it pertains to the places I call home. That's definitely something that's become more and more apparent where I find myself able to call so many places home. And when I meet people on a day-to-day, who'd say, "Well, this is whom, and they've mentioned one place". I used to think, oh, there's something wrong with me for not having that one place I call home. But of course, the UK is home. Although I will get an itch roughly every five years to move abroad, but Japan is like a second home to my son and I because it welcomed us as such and surprisingly, gave us a sense of peace and calm and acceptance and belonging. But what striked me the most is yeah, my ability to feel at home, wherever I choose, I suppose.

Janina Neumann (07:36):
Oh, wow. That's incredible. I mean, I have certainly not had those experiences. You've really dived into growing up in such a multicultural environment.

Gamu Matarira (07:49):
Yeah.

Janina Neumann (07:49):
For the listeners who aren't quite familiar, could you please tell us a little bit more about kind of feeling like a Third Culture Kid?

Gamu Matarira (08:00):
Yeah. So being Third Culture Kid children basically are children like myself who are raised by parents of one culture, but in that nationality, but not in that country, raised in another country or in another environment with the yet another or other cultures around you all the time. So, you know, my parents being Zimbabwe, my sister was born in Birmingham, but that was two years earlier, and I was born in Edinburgh and because they moved around, we would then move with them. So I hadn't really developed my own culture. I think what you end up doing is you have to create your culture because I was not in Zimbabwean culture, and whenever I visit Zimbabwe, I was a foreigner. I was seen as a foreigner as much as I really wanted to just integrate and show everybody that, or in my mind, we're all the same. It's not exactly how you're always perceived or accepted.

Gamu Matarira (09:04):
In the UK, I was born here, so I'm British and I speak like a lot of people around me. The beauty of being a child is you don't necessarily look, well back then anyway, we didn't necessarily look at each other in terms of the features. As I started school in Leeds, so I didn't have the Leeds accent. I definitely didn't sound like I sound now. A northern British accent, just like all my peers around me. So I didn't stick out in any odd way or anything. I was just a kid from Leeds, right? At the time. And then we'd travel and it was just an adventure. However, you know, in some cases we'd have to be homeschooled because of the language barrier, but of course, you're being homeschooled by someone that speaks English.

Gamu Matarira (09:56):
So you're just thinking, oh, this is really fun, you know, mum or dad is one of those contracts, and here we are in Greece or here we are in Philadelphia. And would we just carry on or sometimes we'd be out of school for long periods of time and studying from home and until we got back to England. So I think it also depends on your personality because at the time it was my sister and I, but my sister and I are two very different people. And I think the impact it had on both of us was very, very different. I can describe my sister as someone that was really, really desperate to belong. So that's sort of that hyper-sensitive personality that doesn't necessarily deal with that kind of change very well. Whereas I welcomed it. I loved, absolutely loved to get on the plane again. Great. Where are we going this time?

Gamu Matarira (10:47):
And I always called it an adventure and I wanted to meet new people and find out what they eat, you know, teach me what are you saying? What does that mean? And I want to learn your language. So I think curiosity has a lot to do with whether or not you survive that sort of environment or you don't because not all children can adapt to that kind of, you know, being a Third Culture Kid can really be challenging for some kids and my son included. He's really thrived in some ways, and I know he will thank me when he's much older, but there are times he really reminds me, can we just stop moving because I keep having to switch friends...

Janina Neumann (11:31):
Yes. Gosh.

Gamu Matarira (11:31):
...meet new people. Yeah. He's different to me. So he'd love to just stay in one place, settle and be part of the community.

Janina Neumann (11:40):
Oh, wow. That's so fascinating.

Gamu Matarira (11:42):
Thank you.

Janina Neumann (11:42):
It just makes me think about it, I think I'm similar in the way that I like to explore, I'm curious, and I think over the years, I've just accepted that the people who I live with are who I belong to. So as long as they live with me, when I move, I always feel at home.

Gamu Matarira (12:05):
Yep.

Janina Neumann (12:05):
I think other people don't feel like that they have to have, you know, the local shops around them, you know, the same kind of people. So I do understand what you mean, how there's quite a difference between how settled you feel somewhere.

Gamu Matarira (12:22):
True. Absolutely. And I think character has, like I was saying, has a lot to do with it. You know, I love food and eating lots of different types of foods. I love creating things with a mix of different backgrounds and different influences. So naturally, I'm kind of attracted to international environments and, you know, different people from different backgrounds. It's the curiosity in me. And to me, the world be such a beautiful place if it were completely diverse right?

Gamu Matarira (13:00):
But of course, you get, you know, those metropolitan centers are more diverse than other parts of the country, for example, and there's a reason for that. And people that are attracted to that will gather in those places, other people will say, "No, actually I think I'll just go to the village, you know, where I can just be. I know the people, I know my neighbours, I understand the shops around me. I understand the businesses around me and I'm happy with that". And it's just a difference. I think it's just a difference in the types of people that we are. Yeah.

Janina Neumann (13:33):
That's really true. And someone said something really interesting the other day, and they said about, you know particular town that's nearby. They said, "It's not multicultural". And I was thinking, okay, that's interesting because I know a lot of cultures who gather in different areas, but he said, "Well if they were multicultural, they'd actually mix and live together, whereas they are just a group of cultures like scattered around". And I think that's the definition of whether a place is multicultural or not.

Gamu Matarira (14:06):
True.

Janina Neumann (14:06):
It's actually people being very open and curious about the other cultures. So they actually bring them into each other's lives and build kind of that identity, that local identity together.

Gamu Matarira (14:20):
Absolutely. I 100% agree with that. It's the integration piece that's really, really key, otherwise, you're just putting up walls and barriers. And how is that comfortable to live in when you're sharing the same amenities resources in the same place? I personally don't understand that and I don't think we're really utilising the full potential of what a community can do together, living that way at so, yeah, I agree with you.

Janina Neumann (14:54):
That's a really good point. The full potential of actually living together. And it makes me think about, you know, this concept, we have like colour blindness, but also I think we have cultural blindness.

Gamu Matarira (15:07):
Yes.

Janina Neumann (15:07):
So someone regards someone, you know, we're all the same regardless of your culture, but that's not quite understanding that person. And, you know, just reflecting on what you were saying about your experiences, you know, going into different areas where people almost you know, they might've said to you you know, we're all the same, but yet you felt like an outsider. And you know, that has a big impact. When I go to Germany, people will comment on my accent, but also sometimes when I'm in the UK, people will comment on my accent and, you know, it's actually, it puts up a barrier, even though they're trying to bond with you, which is really peculiar because I don't think that's the way to bond with people.

Gamu Matarira (15:55):
Yeah.

Janina Neumann (15:57):
Yeah, I think that's really interesting about that full potential of living with different cultures together. Yeah.

Gamu Matarira (16:04):
Yeah, yeah, we could talk about this all day. If I just even narrow it down to the school that my parents chose to put us in because we were now returning to Africa from all our travels and they believed that we wouldn't cope in a state of school with all the other Zimbabwean children. So they put us in a private school, which in their minds would be similar to a UK experience. But it wasn't because it was a private school, which was a South African run private schools. Although there were English-looking people, they were actually caucasian Africans. They were still Africans. They were not foreigners. It wasn't international. It was still predominantly South African. And within that, you then had your different groups, and there were definitely separations where, you know, the locals Zimbabweans, there were very few by the way, they would be one group of people, they would stick together.

Gamu Matarira (17:07):
Then you'd have the caucasian South Africans who just would not mix with any other race. And then you would have the biracial Zimbabweans, which was always a very interesting group to me because, in Zimbabwe, they actually had almost had their own language, their own neighbourhoods where everybody would live in that one neighbourhood and they'd have their businesses and everything and those children would come to the same school. But again, they wouldn't mix, they wouldn't mix with the locals Zimbabweans, the black Zimbabweans they wouldn't mix with the South Africans either. And then there I was, thrown into the mix. Nobody could make sense of me. Well, she looks like Zimbabwean, but she doesn't like anybody else in this school. In fact, she sounds English, right? But her name, my name, is local Shona. It's the local language.

Gamu Matarira (18:02):
Shona, it's actually a native name. They couldn't make sense of me. And it was an interesting one. It wasn't fun, to begin with, because I felt like I had to constantly explain myself, and it was exhausting because it didn't matter how I explained myself. They couldn't understand what on earth is she talking about? First of all, they couldn't understand my accent. Second of all, my mindset was so, so far-fetched and so different. No one thought like me, no one saw the world like I did. And I remember just yearning for the holidays initially because that meant I'd just come back to the UK where people do get me and I don't have to explain myself and life is straightforward. But then I'd get to a point where I just go, once I've recouped, I'd think can't people just get along?

Gamu Matarira (18:53):
I find it really frustrating that we're all in the same school, we play for the same, you know, sports teams. We support each other in that way. Why are we not supportive as human beings on a day-to-day basis? Even down to the staff would, if they didn't understand me, they'd have a problem with me because I didn't fit the boxes that they were comfortable with. So it was a rough time, but I think it was also character-building. And that's where really my sense of my purpose in terms of what I like to go through the world doing, bringing people together, connecting people, bridging gaps, bridging differences. That's probably where that was born because I went through this terrible experience of it, it was quite a painful experience watching, you know, nonsensical divisions between the people who are all African.

Gamu Matarira (19:49):
Actually all of them Zimbabwean in some way, but see each other as, no, you're not like me. Of course, you're not exactly like each other, but really focused on the differences and refused to look at the possibility of bridging those differences. And it was to the detriment of everyone, to be honest. So yeah, back to just what you were saying about communities, people really need to think about, you know, it's an, it's an important topic. It's an important reality that you have ignore, but it's still there. And with people from different backgrounds, you know, different experiences, you know, and you can choose to ignore it and live in a bubble, but you're living in a bubble. You're not actually living in reality. Or you can choose to embrace it and take the time to understand where the other person is coming from. And you'll be so amazed and so surprised what you discover, you know? Well, that's been my experience anyway.

Janina Neumann (20:47):
Yeah. That's so powerful. It's so powerful.

Gamu Matarira (20:51):
Thank you.

Janina Neumann (20:51):
And you were talking about bridging the differences and obviously, that leads us so nicely into your business and what you're doing.

Gamu Matarira (21:00):
Thank you.

Janina Neumann (21:00):
And would you like to tell us a little bit about what you're doing in your business now?

Gamu Matarira (21:06):
So Gen A Consultancy was actually founded on a lot of these underpinning concepts I'm talking about. So I help international companies to really enter the African market space through strategic partners with African business partners. And the whole idea behind that is that I believe that Africa doesn't need aid or charity. Africa just needs equal opportunities to trade because Africa has the capacity, has the potential, has the capabilities of participating in global trade, just like anybody else. It's just that things are done differently. So again, because things are done differently in different parts of the world, I facilitate the translation of business if you like between the two sides. And what that really means is, listen, you're all after the same goal, everybody here wants growth, profits, as well as to feel good in the process. You want to know that when you're working with other communities and you're working with other businesses and you're entering unfamiliar environments. You want to be welcomed, but at the same time, you also want to be welcoming.

Gamu Matarira (22:22):
So why don't we start by removing those artificial barriers? I mean, they are real barriers, but I call them artificial barriers because they're man-made and we can choose not to work within that space. Let's start by doing that. And one of the ways we're actually doing that is, I know you're also part of the Business Insights International SME Network, here in Gloucestershire.

Janina Neumann (22:46):
Yes.

Gamu Matarira (22:46):
Yes. I'm actually creating a Pan-African BIISN.

Janina Neumann (22:51):
Fantastic.

Gamu Matarira (22:51):
Yes. So we're just at the starting phases of that, which means we're going to be running a focus group next week with some African representatives, as well as you know, myself and a couple of ladies, one in London, one in Canada. And we're going to start off by listening to what format works for SMEs in Africa when it comes to the discussions around international business, learning from each other, sharing best practice cooperation, collaboration and basically, you know, trade. So it aligns very well with what I do in the business anyway.

Gamu Matarira (23:34):
And you know, when I think of the clients that I take in, what I love about working with my clients, my international clients, is they are open to hearing a different way of doing things. There really are. So if you're somebody that used to just export your products and, you know, make money by literal transactions of buying and selling, I speak to people who say, "Okay, well, this is what I do". And then, call it, influencing them, persuading them to look at things slightly differently. Well, think about where you're going. Where you're going people need jobs, right? So why don't we take your model and why don't we find a way to get the things that can be manufactured locally, let's get them manufactured locally.

Gamu Matarira (24:17):
And that way, I mean, that's just amazing, right? You've not just grown your business, but you've actually really fully integrated yourself into that community to show that you're there to stay for the long-term, to also show that you're there for the sustainability agenda that we're trying to really encourage here. And it becomes a long-term relationship and it becomes a relationship whereby both sides benefit. And we've got to move away from that old model of multinationals going into Africa with their big money, their big resources, their big brains. And because of that, having over-powering smaller businesses on the ground and not even really including them at all, because they're too small. And basically just winning on their own while people on the ground are losing. So that's Gen A Consultancy. It really is based on collaboration. It's really based on fair trade. And it's really based on a profit and impact agenda because I believe that the two go hand in hand, you know, one hand washes the other you. With a big mission, you need big resources, but similarly, we always have to remember that businesses are people. You can't ignore that really, really central facet of how we operate when we're looking at those sensitivities while doing business across borders.

Janina Neumann (25:37):
Oh, fantastic. So much information, that's so valuable there. Like lots of things came to my mind, but one of the things I'd like to start with is for anyone listening, who might find this surprising, I just want to really encourage you to attend some of Gamu's webinars to be educated on like the opportunities available in Africa, because especially here in the UK and around Europe, you know, what we see on TV, on the media has given us this certain perception of how business is done in Africa, and this is kind of an unconscious bias, but the way you change the unconscious bias is to surround yourself with different people and people who are very knowledgeable in that field. And that's how you shift your mindset and your perception, and then you start to see opportunities come up because you suddenly realise, actually this is really cool.

Janina Neumann (26:37):
And also from a social enterprise point of view, I went to a webinar a few weeks ago, and they talked about social enterprises in the Middle East, but also in North Africa. And what they found was that because they're dealing with such sometimes uncertain environments, I mean nothing is certain in life anyway, but they have such a greater resilience and better problem-solving skills because they're just used to it.

Gamu Matarira (27:10):
Absolutely.

Janina Neumann (27:10):
Whereas in the UK, you know, when things go wrong, there is support out there, which I'm very grateful for, but that is a privilege. Not everyone has that.

Gamu Matarira (27:20):
Yes.

Janina Neumann (27:20):
And when you don't have that support to fall back on then you have to go and solve your own problems.

Janina Neumann (27:27):
Absolutely.

Gamu Matarira (27:27):
So this is how I see it. When you collaborate with someone that's based in Africa, you can actually overcome difficulties a lot better and they won't just leave you because they're just maybe more used to having to solve their own problems. And I think that makes a really good business partner as well.

Gamu Matarira (27:50):
I'm glad you brought that up, actually. That is so, so true. Resilience is definitely a characteristic of my business partners that I work without in Africa. So I basically spent about a year before I launched Gen A Consultancy, really working on building, you know, trust-based, well-vetted individuals as strategic partners in the five different regions basically of Africa. And one of the reasons I spent so much time doing that is because I know what the media says about Africa and yes, like anywhere else in the world, there is corruption, there is bribery. Those things exist, but we can't, you know, paint the whole continent and every single individual on it with the same brush. Amongst all of these are gems, there are some amazing, amazing, amazing personalities, characters, businesses that are running, you know, really ethically in those environments and fighting corruption and fighting bribery and not involved in what the world chooses to listen to because the media tends to take one story and run with it.

Gamu Matarira (29:02):
So they are living in very challenging environment because if you want to do business right in an environment where say your government likes to take shortcuts or will favour, you know, something that comes in with the biggest check, you're really against it on top of which you've still got your day-to-day everyday challenges, right? Supporting your family, making sure you've got enough school fees to send your kids to school. So resilience. Definitely. I don't even say it lightly when you said people who live in these challenging environments and they're used to it, they really, really do have a backbone. They've been my support system. When I get frustrated because something's not working it's so funny that I'll have somebody, you know, sitting in Botswana saying to me, "Don't worry about it. It'll be fine". They're so calm.

Janina Neumann (29:57):
Yes.

Gamu Matarira (30:04):
Ultimately they've got strong belief systems as well. Listen, if we have things that are thrown in front of us to trip us over, but we will be creative enough to find a solution around it. We will get through it or smash those walls down and we'll move stage to stage. It absolutely is phenomenal. And yeah. I'm so pleased that I'm on this journey because I learned so much from my African partners in Africa as they do from me out here. It really is a two-way relationship.

Janina Neumann (30:40):
Oh, that's fantastic. So when people think about, you know, Africa is such a big continent and so many different areas of opportunity, would you like to tell us a little bit more about how trade works in Africa? Like are there certain almost unions that work together or how does the African market look like?

Gamu Matarira (31:03):
Sure. So I mean, that's a broad question. However, what I would say is we'd look at it industry by industry. Every industry obviously works quite differently. And when you talk about, you know, unions or associations or cooperatives, so Africa 70% in the manufacturing industries and only 30% services industries. Which is quite the opposite to say the UK and Europe, because we have a lot of service industries out on this end because we're more digitally enhanced. So if you think of it that way, when it comes to sort of, you know, manufacturing, production, and construction, infrastructure construction, really what you're looking at is if you think of a pyramid at the bottom of the period pyramid, where the majority of people are operating, it's what we call the informal sector, where individuals will say, "Well, I have land".

Gamu Matarira (32:02):
Most people in Africa are actually farmers. They'll tell you I'm a doctor, but I'm also a farmer because everyone has land in Africa. They have land and you can do something with that land. You can produce off of that land, or you can mine out of that land. So what tends to happen is you get a lot of smallholder farmers or small-scale farmers who can produce fresh produce or animals, et cetera, on small pieces of land. But it's not usually enough to go to a supermarket to say, "I'll be your provider". So what happens there is a group of smallholder farmers will tend to come together as a cooperative, and they're all operating informally and individually, but there'll be a central company, organisation, that facilitates trade between all of those farmers and the bigger market.

Gamu Matarira (32:59):
And that seems to be the model that works quite well. So they don't have to worry about the expense of, oh, I have to register my business. I have to find these resources on my own. They basically start to work together and support each other as a network, and collaboration is not a word that rolls off people's tongues because you know, African culture is steeped in more competition rather than collaboration. So it's almost a new concept that we're teaching people about the fact that there's plenty for everyone. So you don't need to compete for the resources or the market. The market wants all of you on board. And once they understand that, then it's just a case of organising monthly meetings, organising the requirements. I think a lot of people basically communicate over WhatsApp in terms of what they need. And then the one structured body that is doing all the organising that is a formally registered organisation with their certifications to say, yes, we only do organic products, for example. They're the ones who become the broker if you like between the informal market and the rest of the world.

Janina Neumann (34:12):
Wow, that is so much.

Gamu Matarira (34:15):
Yes. I know. I just summarised it as well because I'm conscious of time. But yeah, when you look at infrastructure, much larger projects, a lot of the time you're partnering with the government and investors as well as, but you can also get private sector players in there, but in terms of SMEs and entrepreneurs, micro-entrepreneurs, there are multiple market entry strategies. It just really depends on what industry you want to go into and basically what we do here at Gen A is a matching exercise, right, depending on what it is you want to go into, match it with the right person who is in that industry who knows exactly what you need and how you need to do it in the most simple way possible and just remove the headache. Because if you don't know, it will take you a long time and then you have to worry about, well, what are your sources of information? To be honest with you, doing business in Africa is not difficult. It's just people don't know the right information, where to get it, how to do things. And that's why it's so important to choose the right partners when you're doing something like that. But it's actually not complicated.

Janina Neumann (35:26):
Oh, thank you so much for sharing all those insights. That's so interesting.

Gamu Matarira (35:31):
That's okay, you're welcome.

Janina Neumann (35:31):
And I think it would be best, you know if people wanted to find out more and discuss opportunities, how can they connect and perhaps also work with you Gamu?

Gamu Matarira (35:44):
Sure. So I have a website genaconsultancy.com. So www.genaconsultancy.com with a G. Or you can find me on LinkedIn Gamu Matarira or you can find Gen A Consultancy either on LinkedIn or on Facebook. So any of those pages will sort of give you a way to reach me by scheduling a call with me through Calendly. So if you go to any of those pages, you'll find a way to reach me. If you want to talk to me about any sort of projects you have in mind for Africa or your business opportunities. Because what I find is, a lot of people think, well, I operate in the UK, operate in Europe, I have my sort of structure in terms of where I work, but they just haven't considered the possibility of expanding that structure and expanding the possibilities into Africa.

Gamu Matarira (36:39):
So I would say to every business listening to this, Africa is a developmental space. What that means is Africa is a blue ocean. It's unsaturated. The opportunities are massive and plentiful, and half the time you're going to be getting that first-mover advantage by coming into Africa. It will not be like that forever. The same happened to China 10 years ago. A few people held back, they were just watching other people go in, not sure about China. Look at where China is now. That is where Africa is right now. Africa is the next frontier and the smart businesses are already there. Smart businesses are already seeking those opportunities while so many people are sleeping. And at the point where those who are sleeping, wake up, what's going to happen is everything will have become more expensive. Everything will become more regulated. It will not be as easy to get in as it is right now, because right now the governments by inviting you in. They're making it easy for international businesses to come in because they want to trade with you. So get in touch genaconsultancy.com and I'll tell you what you need to know and come on, let's build a greater continent. I mean, Africa is full of potential and I am on that movement journey of really, really showcasing just how great that continent is because it really is.

Janina Neumann (38:05):
Oh, thank you so much Gamu for everything.

Gamu Matarira (38:08):
You're welcome.

Janina Neumann (38:08):
I really enjoyed our conversation...

Gamu Matarira (38:09):
Me too.

Janina Neumann (38:09):
...and it's been fantastic listening to you and also learning about new opportunities. Thank you very much for your time.

Gamu Matarira (38:18):
You're welcome. You're welcome. Thanks, Janina.

Janina Neumann (38:22):
Hi there, this is Janina. I'm so pleased that you are here and listening to the podcast. For me, the podcast has been a great opportunity to learn and meet new people. I would like to bring together my community of like-minded people and so I am delighted to invite you to our first meet up. The meet up will be taking place online on Thursday, 15th July from 2pm to 3pm British Summer Time. The meet up will give you the opportunity to connect and meet some of the podcast guests and listeners. There will be a breakout room session for networking and a panel session for Q&A. You can book your free place at meetup.biculturalpodcast.com or click on the link within the show notes. I really hope to see you there and I can’t wait to meet you.

Janina Neumann (39:18):
So, I hope you've enjoyed this episode. Please don't forget to subscribe to The Bicultural Podcast. Thank you for listening, and bis bald.


Welcome to The Bicultural Podcast
Experiences of 30 countries
The impact of cultures and being a Third Culture Kid
Business opportunities in Africa
Invitation to The Bicultural Podcast Meet Up
Thank you for listening