HUMILITY and simplicity was written all over her face as Afra Nhanhanga, donning her recent doctorate gown, walked into the auditorium at a Harare hotel accompanied by top American entrepreneur Jacqueline Mohair.
Mohair, the founder and president of Trinity International University of Ambassador School of Business, was the guest of honour at the doctorate and awards event meant to celebrate Nanhanga’s many achievements.
The American guest, who was making her debut visit to Zimbabwe, is also a business and life strategist, life coach and minister of the Word.
The strictly-by-invite event held last week was meant to celebrate the success of Nhanhanga, who has transformed from a rural Zimbabwean girl to a philanthropist and businesswoman.
She has carved a niche and found her voice as an acclaimed public transporter in a male-dominated sector.
The largely reclusive God-fearing Nhanhanga is one of the directors at a local transport firm, CAG Traveller’s coaches. She started off as a bus conductor and is now a celebrated and respected bus operator.
A mother of four — three girls and one boy — Nhanhanga was initiated into the transport business at a tender age by her father.
Her father started a small business operating with a Datsun pick-up truck to transport commuters from Lusaka in Highfield to Mbare Musika and she would assist him before she became the conductor of the family’s first bus. During those years, she recalls it was a taboo for a woman to be a bus conductor.
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Away from the motor spares, Nhanhanga is also a fish farmer as well as a crop specialist. She is the founder of Afrason Aquaculture.
Amid the whirlwind of responsibilities at CAG Tours and Afrason Aquaculture, Nhanhanga reaches out to support underprivileged children and champion various humanitarian causes, driven by an unswerving resolve to bring about positive change in people's lives.
She sits on several humanitarian boards and at a personal level, she takes care of many underprivileged children, providing them with necessities, love, and care. Her philanthropy work spreads far and wide to places like Karoi Prison in Mashonaland West province.
For her exploits, Nhanhanga continues to win awards. Among the awards in Nhanhanga’s cabinet include: the United Nations Global Leadership Award and being recognised as an Outstanding Global Peace Ambassador for Change, Megafest 2022 Outstanding Business Woman of the Year Award, Outstanding Woman Chief Executive Officer of the Year Gold Award at the Megafest Women Leadership awards, 50 Visionary and Inspiration Women Award.
Reflecting on her journey with the guests at the event, Nhanhanga described her expedition as that which encapsulates the essence of resilience, hope, and compassion.
Her sentiments revealed that even the most formidable challenges can be conquered with unwavering determination.
“My path, from the simplicity of humble beginnings to the intricate mosaic of a successful businesswoman, serves as a testament to the unwavering belief that obstacles are stepping stones, not barriers,” she noted.
“Guided by an unshakable faith, I have come to realise that my purpose extends beyond business. I am a vessel of hope for generations to come. My story radiates the belief that dreams can be transformed into reality through steadfast perseverance.”
She continued: “At the age of 22, a phase when uncertainty often takes hold, I chose to forge ahead with determination. My unyielding dedication and ceaseless work ethic led to the recognition of numerous accolades and awards, affirming my place as one of Zimbabwe’s most sought-after female entrepreneurs.”
“For the first CAG Travellers Coaches bus, it was not easy to wake up at 3am and start work at 4am in Kuwadzana to Mbare, sleeping around 11:30pm every day, no off, no holiday. There are some years I have forgotten the events, what I only know is I was working,” she recalled.
“I never knew God would wipe away my tears. During my first days, I would cry endlessly. I was bullied by men, I was chased out of transporters’ meetings.
“I was called names by my fellow women. The list of what happened to me is endless. My Nokia phone was my best friend. I used to play the snake game.
Nhanhanga said the University of South Africa’s gesture to bestow her with an honorary entrepreneurship degree reinforced her commitment to pushing boundaries.
“My journey is not merely a tale of professional accomplishments, it’s a narrative of overcoming hardships — from swimming across rivers to shattering stereotypes and crafting success from adversity,” she said.
“It is about seizing opportunities, transitioning from a bus conductor to establishing a reputable bus company. My story reverberates the strength that emerges from breaking down barriers and inspiring others in the process.”
In recognition of her contribution to Zimbabwe’s business sector, Nhanhanga has also been bestowed with a doctor of philosophy by America’s Trinity University of Ambassadors.
She was awarded the degree during the United Nations Global Women Foundation ceremony.
The businesswoman is also a holder of an honorary degree in entrepreneurship courtesy of the leading distance education institution in southern Africa, the University of South Africa for her charitable work in Zimbabwe and holds various business awards in Zimbabwe and South Africa.
“Whether knitting jerseys for prisoners or immersing myself in humanitarian endeavours, my intent is to create ripples of compassion,” she said.
“I am not solely an entrepreneur, I am a symbol of empowerment, illustrating that we can breach confines and uplift others as we ascend.”
She continued: “As we collectively reflect upon my journey, I hope my story ignites a spark within each of you — a spark that propels you to challenge norms, chase aspirations, and usher in meaningful change.
“My legacy surpasses mere accomplishments. It encapsulates the spirit of unwavering determination, compassion, and the fervent drive to elevate those in need. May my journey inspire you to defy limits, pursue dreams with unwavering zeal, and harness the power within you to cultivate change.
“May my narrative resonate as a testament that, irrespective of our starting point, we have the capacity to inspire and transform lives.”
Nhanhanga acknowledged that her husband, Edson Chinhamu, and younger brother, Samson, have also been of great help in growing CAG into a huge, respected brand in Zimbabwe’s public transport sector.
Following her short stay in Zimbabwe, Mohair posted on Facebook that: “I want to express my heartfelt gratitude to Dr Afra for an unforgettable time in Zimbabwe. The sheer magnificence of Victoria Falls was only rivalled by the celebration of Dr Afra’s remarkable achievements throughout the years.
“My heart is filled with profound humility, gratitude, and overwhelming joy. This experience has forever transformed my life, leaving an indelible mark. I wholeheartedly encourage everyone to join us in April 2024, as we embark on a journey to Zimbabwe and Zambia, not only to witness the breathtaking beauty of the region but also to support and empower the youth.”