How I created and launched a website from the internet café in Zimbabwe, Africa

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This guest post by Munyuki Manatsa first appeared on his blog munyukim.wordpress.com. Munyiki Tweets on @munyukim.

After my last interview with a big mining firm, I got fed up. I had gone to many interviews with big companies, and the result was always the same. With unemployment at a staggering 80% , one can imagine the stiffness of the competition , now add corruption and your chances are next  to none.

I graduated with a BSc Information Systems from Midlands State University of Zimbabwe in December 2009.When I graduated I had high hopes of a good job , two years later I realised that no one was probably going to give me that chance any time soon.

Confronted with a not so rosy future, I decided I was going to build a web application. I had read so many stories so I was optimistic plus it was the only chance that I had to be noticed.

I needed an idea, so I brainstormed a couple of ideas but none of them interested me. Then it dawned on me that I needed to solve a problem that I know, if people didn’t like the idea, I would just use my application for my own good.

I visit a lot of hip hop sites and sometimes  a site might have one good story or content. I decided to build a hip hop link aggregator with social networking features. Besides it will also give me an opportunity to sharpen my programming skills.

My programming skills were a bit rusty , I did not have a internet connection ,there was no one to help if  I encounter a problem and I did not have  a debit or credit card to purchase a domain  name or hosting. It seemed impossible but I had no choice.

Firstly to solve the domain name problem I contacted a friend who had a debt card. He purchased the domain name www.mixdem.com for me. With that solved I searched Google for a good free webhost and found capnix.

Having purchased the domain name and  the hosting I began development of the website. I would work mostly during the night because during the day the would be no power most of the time. If I encounter I challenge , I would work at it until I found a solution. I would  go to the internet café to download websites that I needed to scrape and also search for a solution to a problem that I had failed to solve. The social networking part  was difficult but I managed to pull through , it had features like voting on content that you like , u could follow people like on twitter , share your thoughts , comments , algorithms to rate content and messages between members. Three weeks later I had a working prototype and ready to test it.

I now wanted to launch , I went to the internet café and created an account with capnix hosting. Logged to my Godaddy account and set the nameservers to point  to my capnix account. Uploaded the website and set up the database. Then I waited for the nameservers to propagate. After two days I checked and the website was not yet accessible. I had made an error in created  the account so I had to do it again. After hours of trying to figure it out, I finally managed to set it up and my website was now visible.

The time to promote the website had come, I set up a twitter account and engaged with the hip hop community there. I also posted on Facebook about the project and a couple of classifieds websites. I was just looking for feedback and was not expecting a  lot of traffic.

After about a week after the launch the response has been humbling. Considering that I did not much marketing other than tell few friends ,the site had 500 unique visits which is quite impressive. A lot of people have contacted me with business ideas and others want me to freelance on their projects.

As a result of this project, my future now seem bright and  I have started getting a lot of opportunities that I did not have before. If you find yourself in a position like me , don’t lost hope instead start a project and tell people about it , it doesn’t have to perfect and use all the resources you can get.

image via itnewsafrica.com

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  • Pindile Mhandu

    correction: a frind with a debt card

  • JamesM

    Well done! That’s the correct approach for anyone thinking that a job is a going to just land on their lap. It never does. If you can’t find one engage your brains and be enterprising enough to channel your efforts at something.
    Now that you have a platform running and attracting some traffic, now is to the time to start thinking of how to retain that traffic and monetize it to your advantage. Use exactly the same enterprising effort you used to launch your web platform. Good luck.

  • Chanyani

    Good luck. Am impressed by your willingness to share expriances.

  • Moduledev

    Go zimbo go ….

  • Developer

    Excellent. We need a thousand young men like you and Zim will never the same again.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Richwell-Captain-Phinias/610331826 Richwell Captain Phinias

    Good initiative. So Motivational!

  • http://www.facebook.com/lovemorej Lovemore Jokonya

    I like the courage. very impressive initiative from a classmate.

  • http://www.mixdem.com/ Munyuki Manatsa

     Thank guys for the support and i hope my story will encourage more Zimbabweans to create web applications .I  believe we can create our own strong internet economy and help contribute to the  GDP of the economy.

  • http://www.mixdem.com/ Munyuki Manatsa

     Thank you , i  will fix that.

  • http://www.mixdem.com/ Munyuki Manatsa

    Glad you appreciate it , i will be posting more details very soon

  • http://twitter.com/Charikinya Edson Charikinya

    That is what Africa needs, more stories like these ones. I am current CEO of @innotechsol we are looking at investing in African developers. First up will be a Developer factory for Zim. Just imagaine a space lilke World Trade Centre, where developers come in an get internet access and work space to work on their projects. With input from industry on the scope of projects as well as support with the commercialisation of the software and products developed in the Factory. Better still the Innovation Studio would be run 24 hours with backup power supply allowing Developers to work on their own times. Funds to run the factory will come from the part of the proceeds from the commercialised products from the Developers. With the Developer getting a majority share of the proceeds. This will be an Innovation hub for Zimbabwean Developers. The vision is there if anyone is intrested in being part of this amazing project get in touch with me. 

  • Kudzimavuwa

    Great stuff my brother

  • Petros Ruwocha

    This is the typical Zimbo spirit that makes us proud! It’s a pity politicians trash this inimitable attribute and human resource endowment that is the envy of many a country!

  • bhinikwa

    We need in Zim now web applications & startups that do local content. In S.A Mixit was first loved & brought to publicity by local youth. Your website is good but somehow we need local content. The biggest prob is that most urban youth know nothing about zimbabwe so creating local content is difficult. Most start-ups grow big first in their local environments ie facebook. Otherwise brilliant idea & implementation

  • http://nhamod.myopenid.com/ nhamod

    Yes you are very right on that. All the local content from Zim is on facebook.
    As they say Content is King and right now facebook is King because of condtent from around the world.

  • http://nhamod.myopenid.com/ nhamod

    This is a great idea because people like Bill Gates, Steve jobs had access to computers 24/7 hours/days from a young age and look at want became of them. 

  • Charles Masunungure

    Thanks Techzim for affording this youngman an opportunity to market himself.I am a Pastor and Christian business person who runs the only internet cafe in Bindura and the whole province. Our young people graduating from our Universities in IT or computers are afraid to start self innovative projects like what Munyuki Manatsa has done. Keep it up Techzim and to Munyuki I want to say the sky is your limit.God bless.

  • Prosper Chikomo

    Kukiya-kiya ndizvo!

  • Oz

    Thats a great positive story! Keep it up and may you soar like your determination!

  • Tapiwa ✔

    What you describe sounds close to a Hackerspace (hackerspace.org) – a concept which has been implemented all over the world. it’s a really neat idea

    I wish our institutions of higher learning would facilitate such ideas/act as incubators as they have available space, equipment & connectivity. Extra credit: hackerdojo.com, which provides everything for a flatfee of $100

  • Flick

    Wow! I needed something like CAPNIX.COM for a project I have in mind. Thanks for sharing the experience…go go go

  • Muti

     hey edson drop me your details on mutiwa@yahoo.co.uk or follow me on twitter mutimuti84 this is a good idea!.

  • Art

    @Developer said it all.@twitter-80879172:disqus 

    In a nutshell this is the kind of spirit that built Silicon Valley.

  • kevin

    Love the story.Keep sharpening those skills and dont’ stop.#More opportunities will show.

  • Ggobiye22

    Doing Computing and Information Technology at CUT and dude somehow we got the same ideas, would love to help a bit on your site and would love to share with you my ideas too

  • http://internet.inmyarea.com/ internet in my area

    I like to visit this good post. Recently many business people create it’s own website to spread his business. I visit to hip hop site. It’s really give a batter opportunity to know about the different types of web social site future and his popularity.

  • MarthaJacob

    Enjoyed reading about your project. Just noticed that Capnix Data Farm is now promoting free domain providers like http://www.dot.tk and http://freedns.afraid.org This means we don’t even need to invest on domains!

    http://www.dot.tk , http://freedns.afraid.org ,
    http://www.dot.tk , http://freedns.afraid.org ,