Zimbabwe's Indigenous Business People During the Colonial Era

Filling Stations were one of the business ventures some indigenous Zimbabweans undertook during colonial rule

Zimbabwe had indigenous business people who persevered in difficult times and succeeded in their business ventures during colonial era. They faced different challenges due to their support for the liberation struggle and also fought for equality in business opportunities.

List and Background of Indigenous Business People during colonial Era

George Tawengwa

George Tawengwa was a distinguished businessman and politician in Zimbabwe. He was the owner of the famous Mushandirapamwe Hotel brand and he rose to fame when he became the first black millionaire (in US dollars) in the country. He had a wide array of commercial investments in transport, properties, retail, agriculture and hospitality industries.

Philemon Machipisa

Garikai Philemon Murambiwa Machipisa was a Zimbabwean businessman who had his first supermarket in Machipisa, Highfield. Machipisa died on 19 January 2021 and would be remembered for being an astute black businessman during colonial times running Machipisa Grocery shops, bus company among other businesses. He was a strong supporter of the liberation struggle using his resources.

Paul Tangi Mhova Mkondo

Paul Tangi Mhova Mkondo was a Zimbabwean nationalist. Mkondo was also a very successful entrepreneur and a pioneer indigenous business magnate. Mkondo was one of the first Gonakudzingwa political prisoners alongside Joshua Nkomo as a student leader protesting against Rhodesia’s Declaration of Independence. A popular insurance program called Mari NeUpenyu Vevanhu broadcasting on Radio 2 (now known as Radio Zimbabwe) was done by him on Sunday Mornings since the early 70s.

Roger Boka

Roger Boka was a controversial and successful Zimbabwean entrepreneur known mostly for establishing the Boka Tobacco Floors, a tobacco auction company, which was at that time was considered the largest in the world.

Denis Makomva

Denis Makomva was a Zimbabwean businessman in the retail sector. Some say he was a mistrustful autocrat. In 1959 he opened his first shop in Highfield. As was the norm with businessmen of the time, in 1969 he added a petrol station. He subsequently opened a supermarket in Highfield in 1978, followed by another one in Glen View in 1980.

Paul Matambanadzo

Paul Matambanadzo was one of the prominent transport operators in Zimbabwe. His poor peasant family could not afford to educate him so he left school after Standard 3. After working as a farmhand at the age of 13, Matambanadzo later found work as a cook in Salisbury. 1954 was particularly defining to him as he found work as a bus conductor at a bus company owned by Maziweyi. It was his experiences at Maziweyi, where his brothers colluded to defraud him, that shaped his attitude towards his own venture.

Aiden Mwamuka

Aiden Mwamuka was a Zimbabwean businessman in the retail industry who was a teacher turned tycoon. It was in 1952, when he decided to trade the chalk for a fling with the business world, that Mr Mwamuka’s path was set. After opening up his first shop, a small room measuring 3×6 metres, with stock valued at less than 200 pounds, he successfully launched his business empire. A grocery shop complete with a snack bar was subsequently opened in Highfield. The authorities also gave him a licence to sell spirits. A petrol station followed.

Alfred Zwambila

Alfred Zwambila was the first indigenous person in Bulawayo to be granted a liquor license for Marisha Cocktail Bar-Lounge built next to his shop in Magwegwe in 1967. The bar was officially opened in February 1968. He died in 1975.

Benjamin Muvuti

Benjamin Burman Chibarinya Muvuti was a prominent Bulawayo businessman and Zanu-PF member. He was one of the pioneer pre-independence young business persons. He grew to be a prominent businessman in Bulawayo. He was a prominent insurance sales man. He was the best insurance sales man not only in Rhodesia but Central Africa.

Tobias Mujaji Musariri

Mr Musariri ranks among the first successful indigenous black commercial farmers, who began farming at Binga Ranch in the then Wiltshire Charter District in Mutekedza area in Chivhu during the early to the late 1970s. (This farm is now owned by his older brother).

Isaac Samuriwo

Isaac Hanzi Samuriwo was a well-known person and businessman, and was also Member of Parliament. He had been an MP in the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland between 1958 and 1962. The federation ended on 31 December 1963 and after that, he was to be elected MP for Magwendi in 1965.

Joseph Mtshumayeli

Joseph Mtshumayeli was one of a new dynamic breed of men who, in the 1950s set out to satisfy the need for sophisticated services in the countryman as enjoyed by those in the urban areas. In 1964 Mr. Mtshumayeli opened the Pelandaba Store and Hotel in the village of Kezi. His business interests continued to grow and he operated a fleet of 13 buses and employed a fleet manager and a staff of inspectors as well as drivers, conductors, book-keepers, store managers and assistants.[1]

Myles Kupara Chanakira

Myles Kupara Chanakira owned and operated Modern Express Motorways, Zimbabwe’s first indigenous owned bus company before Indepedence. A very wealthy businessman, Chanakira is also believed to be the first indigenous Zimbabwean to drive a brand new Mercedes Benz luxury saloon motor vehicle.


  1. [1], Window on Rhodesia, The Jewel of Africa - A People’s Progress, Accessed: 15 July, 2020