by TRACY ZOLLINGER TURNER
At 18, Rishel “Rish” Naran traveled from his home country of Zimbabwe to Texas, his heart set on a career as a professional golfer. Unfortunately, he suffered a back injury during a soccer game, making a golf career unattainable. Changing paths is what eventually landed him in Bloomington where, at 29, he works as the general manager of Andy Mohr Honda.
Naran admits that his sports prowess made him a bit blithe about academics, so after his injury he wasn’t sure where to turn. He decided to take a chance and apply to the Wolff Center for Entrepreneurship at the University of Houston.
At Wolff, he asked his interviewers, “Have you ever taken a gamble on a stock and had it pay off?” When they said yes, Naran told them, “Well, I’m the really expensive stock you’ve got no data on.” He promised if they took a chance on him, he would maintain a 4.0 GPA throughout the program. He did, graduating with a bachelor’s degree in 2013.
After graduation, Naran considered returning to Zimbabwe. His grandfather was involved in politics and had been a lifelong friend of Zimbabwe’s former vice president Joshua Nkomo, who founded the Zimbabwe African People’s Union. But his plans to return home didn’t pan out.
“Political stuff got a little too bad back home,” Naran says. “So I ended up staying in Texas.” He got a job in business sales with Staples, which transferred him to Indianapolis where the Andy Mohr Automotive Group became one of his major clients. Soon, he was recruited to their Toyota branch. He asked to move to Bloomington in 2016.
In Zimbabwe, Naran grew up rubbing elbows with important political figures, as well as those who were among the most vulnerable. While his grandfather regularly brought dignitaries home to dine with the family, his mother managed two orphanages where he and his younger brother would often help cook sadza—cornmeal—for the children. “We always saw kind of two sides … the political side of my dad’s family, and then the selflessness of my mom’s side of the family.”
Golf remains a passion for Naran. He’s a member of the Bloomington Country Club and plays there regularly. And he says the global draw of Bloomington has made the city home. “Everywhere I’ve lived has people from Africa, people from Europe … and our clientele here is about the same,” he says.