Zimbabwe’s alternative stock exchange for small and medium scale enterprises (SMEs) is yet to be launched but it has already attracted a lot of attention. This is what happens when everyone wants to keep an eye out for the next pool of investors for their business.
This time though the talk in the media hasn’t been about the startups or SMEs that can look forward to a potential market for funding. The focus has been on how some entities on the main bourse, the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange, should be considering drifting or downgrading to this new alternative market.
The fact that this is being considered for some listed companies is further evidence of how dry the market is and just how much of a financially constrained business environment Zimbabwe has in 2015.
There are no free funds floating around and if the bigger fish are feeling this, you can only imagine what it is like for the small up and coming enterprises.
This doesn’t mean that everything stops though. If you are running that small business or tech startup you still need capital. It just means you have to be more creative with your plans to raise funding for your startup.
There are no visible angel investors in the market yet and we don’t know when this new exchange fore SMEs will open, but before you head over to that Emerging Enterprises Market, there are other sources you should consider tapping into this year.
1. Check your pockets
Do you still think your idea, product or service merits backing? Then put that dollar of yours on it. It probably sounds like yesterday’s gospel if you have already burnt through those savings you were relying on to tide you over in the early stages of the business, but there are other sources you could explore. As an example you could try something like reducing that allowance your business gives you.
2. The three Fs are still an amazing pillar
Your first fans have to be the people in your social circle and immediate influence that see the potential of your idea and are honoured, on some level at least, to extend that “soft loan”.
Always cultivate these relationships, develop more of them where possible and use them as channels for honest and consistent feedback as well.
If you can’t sell your idea to the people that know your work ethic and how passionate you are about something that will also help you figure out a lot about your product and commitment to it before knocking on other doors for that cheque.
3. Let your market fund your startup
In the bigger scheme of things the market is supposed to be your best investor actually. By buying your product or service, your market will give you money in the bank that should be converted for business use.
The good thing is that this sort of “financing” is entrenched in the process of product validation, something that every entrepreneur has to do for every new product or improvement that they work on.
This is sadly easier said than done for most early stage entrepreneurs that have pinned their survival on that revenue to keep the lights on for the office and home. It will be difficult but just remember that It’s all part of the greater sacrifice you have to make for your business.
4. Strategic partnerships can have some returns
If you are providing a product or service that complements the efforts of a more established business or operator, you can angle for a partnership with them. This will ensure that you stay operational while providing something for your partner. Your partner might extend some capital but only if there is a clear case of how you will add value to what they are trying to achieve with their own business.
5. Give crowdfunding a shot
Does crowdfunding work in Zimbabwe? Well, It has been explored by some entrepreneurs and in non profit projects, and although it is hard to determine whether these campaigns were all successful, it just shows that the concept is hardly foreign in here.
The question of whether it will be a success depends on a host of factors like the type of project, the way it is marketed and how much is being raised. All this is what you are supposed to figure out as an entrepreneur if you are trying to raise funding for your startup. Just don’t be quick to dismiss it if you haven’t tried it.