The late Roger Boka was a genuine reflection of the spirit of entrepreneurship. The third born in a family of nine children born to Phoebe and Martin Boka, he went on to become a husband and father of seven. As the son of a carpenter in white-ruled Rhodesia, he always won the ‘top student’ award at school. Later, in black-ruled Zimbabwe, this helped him build a business empire encompassing interests in real estate, publishing, banking, mining and tobacco marketing.
To himself and to many others, his rise to prominence embodied the rare realization of the potential among Zimbabwe’s mostly poor black majority to break the white minority’s hold on the nation’s business and wealth.
When Boka Enterprises (Pvt) Ltd was born in early 1979, few gave the fledging company much chance of survival. It not only survived, but prospered, increasing its workforce tenfold. Like other Indigenous Zimbabwean businesses, the group has over the years supported Government’s call to promote developmental projects and to stand up and be counted alongside white counterparts thereby expanding into many branches of commerce and industry. Despite UMB’s collapse in 1998, his bank offered loans to indigenous Zimbabweans at favourable terms, challenging multinational banks against discrimination against black entrepreneurs who lacked collateral, whilst alerting the country to the In Du Plum Rule. Following his death in 1999, his companies were placed under Judicial Management. The Group companies have survived collapse, judicial encumbrance and a ten year recession.
Some of his milestones include: