Charity begins at home—Why has Mukuru chosen not to support local football?


Over the past decade, Zimbabwean football fans have endured a tumultuous journey, marked by challenges posed by football administrators. Despite these hardships, the fervent passion for the beautiful game and the unwavering pride in our homegrown talent remain steadfast in the hearts of Zimbabwean football enthusiasts. 


Corporate sponsorships have been instrumental in the success stories of football worldwide. Unfortunately, Zimbabwe has yet to be a part of these narratives. To bridge this gap, football administrators, club owners, and hierarchies must innovate and devise strategies to entice the corporate world into becoming active contributors within the country's football structure.

Mukuru stands conspicuously absent from the ranks of supporters for Zimbabwean football despite having actively contributed in successful football stories worldwide. 

This notable omission has not gone unnoticed by fervent football enthusiasts, who are now raising their voices in concern and asking a crucial question: why does Mukuru, a Zimbabwean success story, not extend its support to the beloved sport that unites our nation?

Since its inception in 2004, Mukuru has been defined by its ChiShona name and has established a notable presence in the realm of remittances and international communication services. However, when it comes to contributing to the development of football in Zimbabwe, Mukuru's involvement has been notably absent. 

Despite its growth and success over the years, Mukuru has played little to no part in supporting or advancing football in Zimbabwe, leaving a significant void in its commitment to the local community. This absence raises questions about the extent of Mukuru's engagement with and support for the communities it serves in its home country.

Mukuru was created in the UK by a Zimbabwean entrepreneur residing in the UK, Rob Burrell, who had also made attempts to launch several other startups that did not succeedMukuru’s first ever product was a platform that facilitated individuals in London to buy international talk time vouchers, confirmed through text messages, to maintain connections with their families in Zimbabwe. 

In 2006, Mukuru expanded its services to include fuel coupons and groceries alongside the international talk time product. In 2009, Mukuru launched the now popular remittance service. This platform was developed to empower migrant workers in the UK and EU to send USD to their families in Zimbabwe, bridging the gap and facilitating financial support. 

One might argue that singling out Mukuru as a Zimbabwean success story that hasn't contributed to its local community may seem unjust. However, the frustration stems from local football enthusiasts observing Mukuru's substantial involvement in other countries while it appears to have neglected similar efforts in Zimbabwe. 

Notably, in 2022, Mukuru served as a shirt sleeve sponsor for English Premier League side Crystal Palace for the 2022/23 season. Concurrently, the company struck a naming rights deal with the esteemed Malawi Super League Team, The Mighty Wanderers FC, and established a sponsorship arrangement with South African legend Tendai “The Beast” Mtawarira. These endeavors abroad raise questions about Mukuru's apparent lack of engagement in the development of Zimbabwean football.

During the 2022/23 season, Mukuru stood among the 19 prominent brands that made substantial financial contributions to Crystal Palace through sponsorship deals. 

It held a noteworthy position as one of the top five partners, collectively responsible for a significant 82% of the club's total sponsorship revenue. During the same season, Mukuru made headlines by unveiling an impressive initial annual sponsorship deal of K175 million for the Malawi TNM Super League team, Mighty Mukuru Wanderers. 

This partnership was announced at Mpira Stadium in Chiwembe Township, Blantyre, and was marked by an ongoing commitment, with the sponsorship being negotiated and renewed on an annual basis. 

The lingering question in the minds of local football fans is clear: if Mukuru is indeed a success story that originated in Zimbabwe, why does it not extend the same level of commitment to its founding community? After all, the adage "Charity begins at home" resonates strongly in this context, raising valid concerns about the company's support for its roots.

However, in Mukuru's defense, one could make the argument that football in Zimbabwe has been plagued by a slew of issues, including reports of financial mismanagement, the mistreatment of female referees, bribery of match officials, ongoing legal disputes, and public conflicts between players and administrators over unpaid wages. 

Against this backdrop, it is understandable why corporations, including Mukuru, might choose to distance themselves from associations with local football. These concerns underscore the complexity of the relationship between the corporate sector and the sport in Zimbabwe.

This scenario can be paralleled to the image of Zimbabwe as a nation in the eyes of foreign investors. Despite the challenges and concerns, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and civil organizations have demonstrated their ability to navigate these issues creatively. 

They have done so by closely monitoring the implementation of project funds disbursed to Zimbabwe. Similarly, corporations could consider adopting a project management framework akin to the one employed by NGOs for monitoring grants provided to Zimbabwean organizations. 

This approach would help ensure that corporate funds are utilized in a transparent and mutually agreed-upon manner. Similarly, in the private sector, corporations often employ a similar approach by utilizing escrow agents to oversee funding or facilities on behalf of the involved parties. These escrow agents play a crucial role in releasing funds in accordance with the agreements established between the sponsor and the club. 

Funds are disbursed upon the fulfillment of pre-determined contractual obligations or upon receiving joint instructions from both parties, ensuring a transparent and accountable process.

Further, Mukuru partners with various financial institutions across the world which are separate legal entities, which may differ in strategy, capacity to sponsor football, strategy and how they give back to their respective communities. Mukuru in the UK operates under the trading name of Mukuru and is managed by Remitix Limited. 

Remitix Limited is a privately-held company incorporated under the laws of England, bearing Registration Number 05270734. Its registered office is located at 12 Old Mills Industrial Estate, Paulton, Bristol, BS39 7SU, England, United Kingdom. Mukuru's operation in Zimbabwe is facilitated by Send Money Home Pvt. Ltd, operating under the trade name Mukuru and in compliance with the financial industry laws and regulations in Zimbabwe. 

Similarly, Mukuru in Malawi is overseen by an independent financial institution that adheres to the legal framework and regulations of Malawi. These distinct operational setups reflect the company's commitment to complying with local financial regulations in each respective country of operation. 

The complexities within the legal structures and the differences between the operations of Mukuru in the UK, Malawi and Zimbabwe should be taken into careful consideration when assessing and discussing their roles and responsibilities, especially in the context of their potential involvement in supporting local football initiatives.

With the ban on football in Zimbabwe lifted, the country's national teams are at a crucial juncture, requiring a revitalization and rebranding to symbolize a fresh beginning and a commitment to innovative strategies. 

Zimbabwe undeniably possesses a wealth of football talent, sufficient to compete at the highest levels or at least offer formidable challenges to stronger teams. 

However, unlocking this potential relies heavily on corporate entities like Mukuru that align with the people's sentiments and acknowledge the profound love for football within the local community. 

These corporations have the capacity to bring joy to countless faces and elevate the nation's footballing ambitions by providing much-needed support to the sport.

Post a Comment