We first heard about Luke Madzedze at the Research and Intellectual Expo at the University of Zimbabwe some 4 weeks ago. At the expo, we saw some desktop and Java mobile applications whose development was attributed to the young man. We arranged to meet Madzedze and finally did last week in Harare.
Luke Madzedze is a 23 year old final year student studying Business Management & Information Technology at Catholic University in Zimbabwe. Luke tells us he’s been writing code since he started learning programming back in high school.
Software applications he’s worked on include an Inventory Manager, a Point of Sale (POS) application, an Internet Cafe’ Billing application for an NComputing/Thin Client setup, a payroll system, a Java mobile audio player app, a java ‘call me back’ mobile utility and some virus removal tools. His latest project he says is to develop an anti-virus application.
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We found it quite impressive that even though Madzedze’s a full time student, he has managed to sell the Inventory manager, the Point Of Sale (POS) application and the Internet Café Billing application. He says his oldest POS client, a baby clothes retail shop at the Westgate shopping center in Harare, has been using the application for 4 years now. The Internet café billing application, now on its second version and close to year old, is also being used commercially by an Internet café called Platinum Online in Harare at their Causeway branch, Girls High School and Churchill Boys high school net café.
Madzedze’s virus removal tools have been used by colleagues at his college to remove some notorious viruses that were spreading on campus via USB memory sticks. Madzedze says traditional anti-virus applications would fail to deal with some viruses because of lack of updates, poor configuration and heavily compromised Windows machines rendering the anti-viruses unusable. His tools are designed to deal with known viruses and reverse their effects on heavily compromised Microsoft Windows computers.
Madzedze says he’s never received any external funding for this software development and that he essentially works alone writing the software, marketing it, selling it and supporting. And since he’s studying full time for his first degree, his software business is really ‘work on the side’. He explains that “balancing between being a student and being a software developer is definitely one of the biggest challenges that I face on a daily basis.”
Now to be clear, developing a point of sale system, an inventory management system, or a virus removal tool is obviously not the big thing here. There are a lot of geeks in Harare that can do these things. In fact we have a number of software development houses in Zimbabwe that have worked on similar solutions (except the ambitious anti-virus software that is (not that they need to)). What we find attention worthy here is the promise at show in this one man band.
It’s the promise and potential of a tech entrepreneur still a student but actively monetizing his software development work. A student providing practical virus removal solutions to problems faced at his college. A student with applications that are actually being used by everyday businesses which are actively experiencing the benefits of his solutions. Looking at these things you imagine the heights that can be reached with a structured team a strategy and software dev skills harnessed to produce innovative solutions not just for Zimbabwe but beyond the borders even.
And in case you’re wondering why we have not provided a link to his website; other than a Facebook profile, and some entries on classifieds.co.zw, there’s nothing else.