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Valentine Garacho has big plans. The Co-Founder and CEO of Zerttew Global is an entrepreneur at heart, and is always looking for growth and change. His company, founded in 2016, is on the verge of a great investment within the mining sector that just might change the landscape of Zimbabwean industry. “I am of the view that we need to strengthen our presence in the lithium industry,” he says.
Zerttew is just months away from beginning operations at a new lithium mine, an industry dominated by Australia, Chile and China in the top three spots, with Zimbabwe in fifth place. The top three deliver nearly 85 per cent of the world’s total lithium on the market. In comparison, Zimbabwe produces just 2.1 per cent.
As one of the smallest producers on the market, Valentine plans to differentiate Zerttew by bringing the production of lithium batteries to Zimbabwe. If successful, it will be the first African-based business to refine the raw product it produces.
There’s a reason why Valentine is acting now. “The industry is showing the early signs of offering a new gold rush,” Valentine says. “And we’re keen to have first-mover advantage and to establish ourselves in that space.”
Of course, he doesn’t think this will be easy. Still recovering from the impacts of the global pandemic, Valentine anticipates more supply chain and logistics issues to come. “In the medium- to long-term, we anticipate challenges will come from the recent geopolitical developments in Eastern Europe,” he says. “We suspect that the rising energy prices will affect our industry and supply chain disruptions, pronounced during the COVID-19 pandemic, are likely to be extended. All these new realities of disruptions are likely to affect plans that businesses have of scaling up their operations.”
Disruption appears to be the new norm, but given Valentine’s goal of disrupting the global electric energy industry, his entry into the market couldn’t have been better timed.
Given the relative youth of Zerttew, its success within the EMEA market has been nothing short of impressive. Today it houses five business verticals across oil and gas, agriculture, pharmaceuticals, manufacturing and energy.
How has Zerttew managed such an impressive resume? “We have been able to establish a presence in several jurisdictions over a relatively short space of time,” Valentine explains. “It’s part of the fabric of the company to grow in terms of presence. We have also been able to tap into our international links and expand on that network, and that has proved meaningful in the structuring of some of our business transactions.”
“By helping found Zerttew, I realised that there is a real everyday opportunity to positively shape people’s lives, as well as national economies. That reality ensures Zerttew strives to always have a meaningful impact.”
These connections have been vital to Valentine. People are at the heart of Zerttew, and indeed, it’s one of Valentine’s goals to have a positive impact on the lives of people. “I never set out to found a mining company. My background and training is in the film industry,” he says. “By helping found Zerttew, I realised that there is a real everyday opportunity to positively shape people’s lives, as well as national economies. That reality ensures Zerttew strives to always have a meaningful impact, whether it’s through job creation, or donating to causes such as the fight against COVID-19. We have the means and the influence to impact positively in the places where we operate.”
And with offices all over the world – including South Africa, Dubai, London, Switzerland and Mauritius – that influence is global
Valentine is confident in Zerttew’s success due to an innovative business model. “We have a hybrid model in our business strategy that is a combination of acquisitions and partnerships. On the one hand, this model allows us to take on risk completely in some transactions and, in other instances, we provide the financial and technical expertise to an already existing business. This flexible and dual approach has been key to the company’s growth in the last few years,” he says.
The other thing that sets Zerttew apart? Strategic partnerships. They’ve been essential to its success thus far, and being able to identify these opportunities is something Valentine considers a crucial skill.
“It’s important to recognise strategic partnerships and to be able to seek them out. Zerttew is not straight-jacketed in its business strategy; through some of our strategic partnerships, we have been able to secure access to international networks that, on our own, would have been difficult to achieve.”