Today we had a discussion about the PayPal Mafia, a group of employees and founders at PayPal who went on to dominate Silicon Valley. These are people like Peter Thiel who became the first outside investor in Facebook amongst other ventures, Elon Musk who cofounded Tesla and many successful ventures or Chad Hurley & Steve Chen who cofounded Youtube just to mention a few. 

Talking about the PayPal Mafia and all of the unicorns that were born after PayPal made me realize how we have not celebrated our own enough. We often give entrepreneurs a hard time, seldom seeking to understand their stories. 

I personally never worked for Kingdom Financial Holdings or any of its associated entities, but I have been a long admirer of Dr Nigel MK Chanakira. A pioneer, maverick, and game changer whose story is often misunderstood by many. But this is a man who has never been shy to tell his truth.

A deal maker of note and in my view one of Zimbabwe’s first Venture Capitalists. Yes, long before many could pronounce the phrase he was investing in entrepreneurs, he was investing in futuristic tech [companies I will not mention here] right here in Zimbabwe. Many entrepreneurs were not only financed but mentored by him. He planted many seeds and some if not many of the people who worked for him or whom he invested in went on to dominate as Entrepreneurs, Investors or Business Executives, especially those who took his advice seriously. There must have been something about the company culture that allowed entrepreneurs to thrive.

I have often read about former employees the likes of renowned Financial Literacy Evangelist Kudzai M Mubaiwa speak highly of the man, the work culture he created and how well they were treated at the Bank. 

I used to watch his show Making Money Makes sense on TV as a young kid. I only first read about him in Moky Makura’s book titled Africa’s Greatest Entrepreneurs. I was absolutely inspired. I then saw him in person during a 1 Million Cups Pitch Night Event, and there he shared his story. I was touched. I was inspired and this was the day I really became convinced Zimbabwe needed more entrepreneurs who are honest enough to share their stories no matter how difficult the stories may be. This is a man who in 1999 only aged 32 led Kingdom Financial Holdings to a merger with ZSE listed Discount House of Zimbabwe, effectively introducing Kingdom Financial Holdings as a listed entity on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange.

A lot of things happened today. In the morning I spoke to him. In the afternoon I was having a discussion about the PayPal Mafia and we started asking if there is any employer in Zimbabwe who has inspired the next generation of Founders, Innovators, Entrepreneurs, Business Executives etc. to start, run or grow in their chosen sphere of dominance. Then tonight, my brother Plot Mhako invited me to be a part of a Clubhouse conversation which was being led by Dr Chanakira. Unfortunately I couldn’t attend but a conversation ensued on twitter most people heard his story for the first time and they understood better. So I thought to myself, all of what has happened today is not a coincidence. There must be a reason.

Here’s to a generation of leaders who sow seeds of greatness in others!!

Thank you Dr Chanakira!


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