The Manica Trading Company Ltd

The Manica Trading Company Ltd

The Manica Trading Company Ltd was founded in Beira, Portuguese East Africa in 1890 by Julius Alston and Joseph Van Praagh. With its base in Beira, a branch was established at Old Umtali, Rhodeisa. In 1892, the company was floated.

Operations were carried on as General Merchants, Importers and Agents and soon another branch was opened in Salisbury. Julius Alston moved his residence to Salisbury and eventually in 1903 left Rhodesia for Melbourne, Australia and never returned. Further stores were opened in Bulawayo, Fort Victoria and Charter.

The first business relied on the import of all kinds of goods and on the establishment of business relations with a large number of shipping agencies. Its business stability, however, firmed its position in the years of the two World Wars, during which the situation was completely unfavourable to business expansion. The first great moment of consolidation took place during the 1st World War, both in Beira and in Southern Africa, through the increase of exports of goods – chrome, minerals, sugar, maize, cotton and rubber – from Africa to Europe.

In 1927, in the verge of a new depression context that erupted in 1929 and brought down the economy, Manica managed to close a contract deal for freight services of vast quantities of tobacco. Its prominence in the transport of tobacco along with the new challenge of air services led the company to enter the business of travel services, a service requested by many of Manica’s customers. Increased activity resulted in the opening of a travel agency, a relevant element in the organization’s portfolio.

In the 1950’s, the geographic universe of the company’s operations covered the entire region of Southern Africa, and Manica was involved in exports to destinies such as Europe, Venezuela and Japan.

In November, 2000, Manica went through a profound structural change, as part of a regional initiative, and became a totally Mozambican company. The Manica Trading Company is one of the oldest commercial enterprises. Due to it’s commercial activities, it continues to flourish, and it toady mainly concerned with
forwarding, insurance and similar activities.



  • James Gavin