A significant portion of Africa’s greatest riches are held within and beneath the soil. The continent’s natural resources have been continuously exploited throughout history and in modern times to the detriment of the most critical element, the human resource on the ground. Zimbabwe is no exception to this, a country once celebrated as the bread basket of Africa found itself at the bottom of global economic indicator lists due to the political impasse targeting the nation’s land. However, this narrative is shifting quickly as Zimbabweans become increasingly passionate about self- actualization. Scott Kupa’s grass to grace trajectory is representative of this shift – a young man who was born into poverty and subsequently rejected it as his identity as well as his destiny.
Pedzai Sakupwanya, better known as Scott Kupa, is the founder and CEO of Zimbabwe’s largest gold aggregating company, Better Brands Jewelry, a company that currently holds the exclusive rights to export gold from the nation. Scott is also the Chairperson of Zimbabwe’s Gold Buyers Association. Zimbabwe is reported to have some of the world’s highest gold reserves, albeit they are largely untouched. According to the nation’s central bank, Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, 2021 saw a 55.5% increase in the nation’s production of the precious mineral. This was largely due to new gold sale incentive schemes that encouraged small scale miners to legitimize their gold sales, a huge opportunity that was seized by Scott to take his business to the next level in what he calls “a real breakthrough”.
Born and bred in Harare’s Mabvuku township, Scott abandoned formal education to join the work force at the age of 14. In his words, “I felt with school it will take me longer to make money. I wanted income, (and) the thought of studying all those years before I start making money was just a big no to me.” At that tender age, the only opportunity available to him was a position as a gardener to a Caucasian couple that was involved in gold mining, and he was more than happy to take it on.
“I was happy because it was a starting point, but I refused to be comfortable because being a gardener was not my dream.”
Scott’s dreams to flourish financially along with his enterprising spirit meant that even in this role, his ambition was already a few steps ahead of his reality. He believed that if he was able to prove himself, he could be moved to the lucrative gold operations. In due time, this goal was fulfilled.
“I was working hard with hope they would move me to the gold operations, it was a milestone achieved (and) I was so excited, ready to work hard and not disappoint.”
Scott’s employers appointed him as a courier for them, taking gold to the government. His promotion from gardener to errand runner in the gold business was a practical university that threw him in the deep end of the ins and outs of the gold industry. Not only did he gain experiential knowledge about this big-ticket business, his employers entrusted him to liaise on crucial relationships that contributed to the success of their operations. This meant that Scott began to get exposed to influential players in the sector, a huge learning curve for him that there is no designation in life that is too small to be impactful.
“Don’t underestimate errand runners. As they are working, you actually hand over all your connections to them. They also become your face, and they gain your contacts’ trust giving them the platform to start their own.”
This was all he needed to embark on his journey, and run without turning back. 25 years later, his net worth is pegged at USD30 million, and his focus is shifting from pursuing monetary wealth to making an impact. As the Chairperson of the Gold Buyers Association he hopes to bring an end to gold smuggling in Zimbabwe, and encourage local beneficiation of the precious ore. His mantra, “In life it’s all about how badly you want it. When you see yourself slowly starting to achieve your dreams, you do not have time to tolerate fear but to be confident and achieve a better life for yourself.”
What’s next for this unexpected millionaire? “To no just be huge in Zimbabwe but on a global level, not forgetting to give back.” is his simple response.
The spirit of African excellence is rife within our young and disenfranchised who only need an inch to get ahead beyond a mile to achieve personal success. In Scott’s case, the ability to identify opportunities and win favor with decision makers to make those opportunities a reality has ultimately been his personal recipe for attaining outstanding self-actualization.