HARARE - Growing up in the affluent Glen Lorne suburb in Harare, Samuelle Dimairho always dreamt of revolutionising the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange (ZSE).
At 15, Dimairho had already decided to create a niche service Central Securities Depository (CSD), that was going to transform Zimbabwe’s capital markets.
Now 23, his dream has come true, and now holds a significant shareholding in Zimbabwe’s only CSD — Chengetedzai Depository Company (Chengetedzai). The ground breaking idea stormed into his mind during his school days at Prince Edward.
When his father provided him with financial journals and other reading material to enhance his business and financial knowledge, little did he know that his son would end up buying and selling shares on the century-plus old Zimbabwe Stock Exchange (ZSE).
“You know reminiscing back in the days the idea of Chengetedzai started in high school, I used to trade in shares,” Dimairho said.
“I bought and sold shares on the stock exchange when I was 15. During the holidays, I used to do auditing and accounting jobs and there were times when AGMs would happen for listed companies, trading sessions or events or a new listing on the ZSE and I would attend regularly.”
Raised by parents who come from a rural background, Dimairho claimed he did not grow up with a silver spoon in his mouth.
His father was a headmaster-cum-entrepreneur, while his mother was a qualified accountant.
He says his mother is a “prayer warrior” who helped him pursue his dreams.
The last born in a family of five, his parents struggled to provide material support, but stood by him through thick and thin, offering him moral support.
Dimairho reminisces walking from school to Nssa building in Harare along Second Street where his stockbroker was based, to check on his shares portfolio.
“I would ask myself that if I can do research on the Internet and that almost every market around the world is automated, that if for example I can see information on Botswana Stock Exchange’s activities, why can’t we do the same in Zimbabwe?” he said.
He told himself that it could only take a leap of faith to be successful.
“That was more of the source of inspiration to say, investors need convenience when they are transacting and they want to see a platform that is transparent where they have information on their fingertips,” he said.
“That was the driving inspiration to this project and that is how it all started.”
The platform’s operating system is similar to a bank and empowers people to buy and sell shares on the ZSE, provided one holds an account with a stockbroker or custodian.
It is set to facilitate the holding of shares on the ZSE in electronic form and makes it easy to transfer them through a book entry system, an alternative to the traditional paper-based certificate system.
Chengetedzai is currently conducting trial runs, on the sidelines of the manual system of clearing and settlement.
The CSD is much faster and easier than the traditional way by which physical certificates have to be exchanged after trade.
Chengetedzai says things started taking off in 2008.
Straight after completing his Ordinary Levels, Dimairho trained his eyes on his dream of automating the stock market. He wanted Zimbabwe to have a bourse just like any other market in the world.
“The first thing I wanted to do was to write some software for the stock exchange,” he said. “I then looked for a technical partner and we signed a non-disclosure agreement and formed a partnership.
“There was lots of going back and forth to the stock exchange. When the Securities and Exchange Commission of Zimbabwe (SecZim) was operationalised in 2008 by the Securities Act of 2004, part of their mandate was to approve a scheme for the establishment of a Central Securities Depository (CSD),” he said.
After extensive consultation, SecZim decided to put the establishment of the CSD to tender in 2010 and Dimairho and his partner grabbed the opportunity.
The tender had three stages which required first an expression of interest open for 30 days in April and May of 2010, followed by a request for proposal stage of a deeper technical evaluation of the system.
The last stage was the oral presentation which was conducted in first two weeks of December 2010.
“We had to look for various people to come on board and we had the idea but we wanted others to add gravitas to it,” he recalls.
“We had a team of about 10 people from various backgrounds including First Secretaries, a lawyer from Chikuni and Associates and various promoters. We focused on this, day and night, it was literally marathon work,” recalled Dimairho.
He however, notes that the journey to successfully establish Chengetedzai was not a stroll in the park.
Although it was SecZim’s tender, at the time, ZSE was resisting orders from the regulatory authority and was trying to do its own project.
“When we were preparing to go to tender, it was a mission to try and get partners on board and is was very difficult,” Dimairho said. “We tried getting banks involved but there was an attitude of sitting on the fence. It presented challenges. When we wanted to capitalise the company, it was at a time when ZSE and SecZim was at each other’s throats.
“The guys at the stock exchange were completely doing their own thing. The stock exchange was the key customer and yet they were opposed to the project. It was quite a big challenge.”
His mentor, who also happened to be the partner at Chikuni and Associates, gave him an unsecured loan to be able to contribute to the capitalisation of the company.
“This was after I had talked to him about my idea and how it was going to impact positively on Zimbabwe’s capital markets,” he said. “One thing that I have realised is that when you have got an idea you have to talk about it and share it with your friends, family and mentors. You have to update them because a time will come when you might need some assistance. To me it was short of miracle for someone to give me a loan.”
He said the opportunity he saw for Zimbabwe was that if the country can automate its markets and make them electronic, the likelihood is high that liquidity in the market will increase because more people will be investing as trading will be available on the cell phone or computer.
“Even if its speculation or long term investment, you will generally see that there would be increased trading,” he said.
“Once automated, foreign trade will also increase because you can imagine if someone sitting in London, New York or India, can buy and sell shares over the Internet, trades will increase and fuel up liquidity,” he said.
Dimairho said wherever there is a transparent market, many people will be interested to participate by way of listing companies or trading in bonds.
“Some companies are listing outside Zimbabwe because of the attraction those markets bring,” he said. “Key issues that would benefit Zimbabwe is having an automated market, a large pool of investors, accessibility and transparency. These are key issues.”
The system is anticipated to boost equities’ daily turnover to more than $5 million as global trends show that upon conversion to automated trade, turnover increases by a factor of five.
The local bourse’s daily turnover — which is the value of shares traded per day — currently averages $1 million.
Apart from running the Aura group which is involved in information and technology systems, Dimairho is currently waiting for final results of ACCA — a chartered accounting qualification. He will be getting his final results of a bachelors honours degree in applied accounting with Oxford Brookes University in September.
During his spare time, Dimairho plays golf and soccer.
He says golf is a leisure sport and it is also a good place to network with other business people.
“I also like reading a lot, watching documentaries and travelling,” he said.
Currently in a love relationship with Grace, Dimairho thinks it is never too old or too young to make a difference.
“We need to start building on our God given talents. At the end of the day, whatever you do, always do it with all your might. Put all your energy to the work you get involved in. We need to be good stewards of whatever we have. Even if things are not okay as a country, we will reap the benefits if we work diligently,” said Dimairho in his parting shot.