Zimbos: Stake your claim in the startup goldrush

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goldrush nuggetsI believe that Zimbabwe and Kenya are similar in many ways albeit Kenya’s coastal advantage with regards to bandwidth access. As such the future is almost predictable provided the local infrastructure shapes up. We have a much higher literacy rate than Kenya with their only difference being that they have embraced tech in a huge and ubiquitous way. Everyone from the vendor on the street corner to SMEs and right up to policy makers are welcoming the info age with open arms.

Of particular importance to Zimbabwe is how they have progressed beyond just consuming content but actually creating their own. As a result a healthy startup scene has emerged, propelled by the success of M-Pesa, Ushahidi and others. Just last year a group of young guys won a $1m Nokia development competition. They competed against teams from all the tech hubs you can think of world over and won!

If we zoom onto the global landscape you can see the mainstreaming of tech to such an extent that investors are stepping over each other to be part of the next Tencent, Facebook, Mail.RU etc… As a result of this activity and interest we are now witnessing a game changing era of the incubation hub. These incubation hubs are centres for entrepreneurs and developers to converge, chase ideas, consolidate skills and attract investors.

By bringing together previously dispersed pockets of talent, availing them resources such as bandwidth, office space, and legal support these incubation centres are creating mini Silicon Valleys that will ultimately result in a few breakthroughs. The problem we face in the local tech scene is that nothing is being done to encourage, bring together and setup tech talent. The benefits are obvious; imagine what a breakthrough startup can do for our country (and our pockets lol).

After the success of Y Combinator, 500 Startups etc in the U.S and emergence of similar centres in Britain, China, Israel and practically every modern nation, Africa is not ready to be outdone. Kenya now has 4 world class incubators, Nigeria is getting in on the act and South Africa is blazing ahead with Silicon Cape and Google’s Umbono (its first African incubation hub).  Even previously strangled nations like Rwanda are smelling the coffee.

The pattern in all this delightful madness is striking; firstly, entrepreneurs & developers have to band together to create a vibrant and sustainable eco-system. Silicon Valley is successful because they have formed a juggernaut cluster that churns out billion dollar start-ups like bread from the Bakers Inn factory; the world has taken note and is coming up with its own micro versions. For Zimbabwe such a cluster is mandatory as our vicious economy will rip any “go it alone” start-ups to shreds.

Secondly it’s us the entrepreneurs and developers who have to persevere to create such eco-systems and not governments. Even the big suit guys who enjoy telling us how inspired they are will not create this; however they and other corporate players in tech can play a very crucial roll in supporting it. A while back Vodacom in SA bought a local social network called Bluworld and integrated it into their value added service offering, Cell C has also been a big backer of Silicon Cape.

The point is that Zim still has life in it to create high value tech start-ups, rather than “waiting for things to get better” we need to come together and develop some sort of cluster.  This digital future can and must happen! It would be nothing short of an absolute sin for the big communications companies not to back such a hub. All that’s required is a huge space, cheap desks, internet access, and personnel (talk about creating employment). This hub must not end up becoming an internet café or games centre but an authentic place to get things done.  It must uplift Zimbabwe from its mediocre tech status.

Local ICT players could then benefit from some of the platforms that they’ll have backed and a few multimillion dollar breakthroughs could result in an unprecedented tsunami of tech utopia. Every parent will encourage their kids to work their butts off in maths and science, code like Zuckerberg and to finally forget the cliché “we want you to be a docotera or rawyer.” Imagine that.

T.E.A.M –Together Everyone Achieves More.

-Clinton D. Mutambo is a serial entrepreneur with a crazy if not out rightly demented passion for tech enterprises, Africa and Zimbabwe. He is currently bootstrapping his latest venture out of a garage near Westgate and believes he can convince Zuckerberg to move to Zimbabwe and join him provided ZESA (the local power utility) keeps up the good run.




  1. gilbert makore

    So true. Most important thing is to try building that ecosystem. At least Zim tech entrepreneurs or ‘wanapreneurs’ are now coalescing around techzim. Maybe it could morph into a media company —-Techcrunch??? with its Disrupt conferences etc. There needs to be some sort of playground for the bloggeratti and tech entrepreneurs

    1. Anonymous

      Interesting and challenging points indeed. We’re working to hold Zimbabwe’s first barcamp in a couple of weeks (more in post in a day or 2) and we hope entreprenuers, developers, people passionate about creating things, and people interested in helping entrepreneurs succeed, will have a platform to share, interact, present ideas, find talent etc…

      The important thing is to just start these things, there are so many smart minds and passionate entrepreneurs around. we all just need a platform.

  2. gilbert makore

    So true. Most important thing is to try building that ecosystem. At least Zim tech entrepreneurs or ‘wanapreneurs’ are now coalescing around techzim. Maybe it could morph into a media company —-Techcrunch??? with its Disrupt conferences etc. There needs to be some sort of playground for the bloggeratti and tech entrepreneurs

  3. Richwell Captain Phinias

    I like this

  4. Debonair

     My sentiments exactly… could not have put it better

  5. Tafmak3000

     It is media 24 that bought out Bluworld from two SouthAfrican guys  not Vodacom! media24 are the owners of M-Web, News 24, The Daily Sun and Kalahari.net. media24 is in turn owned by Nespas a multinational EU based Media Conglomerate that also owns Multichoice the owners of DSTV.   

    Infact Vodacom was itself recently bought out by Vodafone another EU based conglomerate the same way Masmat was bought out by Walmart a Western Conglomerate. Do you see a pattern here?   

    Secondly I believe a distinction must be made between an investment and a buyout! Some of these incubators are predators nurturing and harvesting ideas and making them their own! 

    In other words a guy with $ 1.5million can bring 100 developers together give them support worth $ 500 000 and lure them to work their butts off to come up with something brilliant, then he buys out the best idea for $1million tells the other 99 guys to get lost and makes $500million a year from that idea before selling it off to yahoo for $1billion! (incubators are the cheapest way to bring otherwise expensive labour and intellect together and getting as many ideas to choose from without employing them) 

    Today the majority of people who are credited for and benefit most from the most brilliant ideas didn’t come up with them themselves! 

    The same way we are exporting Granite so that it can be polished in EU rebranded and resold to us for an arm and a leg as Italian Import Quality granite could quickly start to happen in Africa with our ideas!   

    People are coming to harvest African ideas so that they can patent them and benefit from them the most! The one thing that will boost the growth of African ideas in my opinion is a robust open source environment. That way instead of isolating the creative minds in africa at the expense of the untaught we must create an environment that encourage growth and sharing/teaching of ideas. Thanks to these incubators today African developers are highly protective of their ideas. We need growth that will only come by sharing and exchanging knowledge that way creating the basis of a nation that is full of creative people! 

    One example I can think of is Zim web design. X/HTML and CSS are very easy languages to learn, if taught to the kids in Zim soon the basis for a strong internet development economy will emerge, currently this will not happen however because the relatively few people that know these languages and skills are reluctant to tshare them because they feel that it is a competition!  At the moment people are concerned with learning skills, coming up with an idea and keeping it a secret until the next incubator comes along!

    Open Source is what Africa needs to embrace first before incubators are really going to benefit us  and the future of the continent as contender in the Globl internet industry! We are not a source fro raw material, and ideas we want to produce and OWN the finished product too! 

    1. Richwell Captain Phinias

       some great ideas there. on teaching others, its an issue of survival i think. the  developers need to make a living, unless if the big corporates chip in, partner with developers then something can be accelerated. I say accelerated because, something is already happening albeit at a slower pace. we also need a platform for developers to network.

    2. Thulani Ntini

      Spoken like a true African. Keep up the good work

  6. Clinton D. Mutambo

    @8f4cbe9a828bc64fd6b6d5e8fb0559b5:disqus  thanks for the correction; Vodacom bought Zoopy and not Bluworld. Both were hot startups around 07-08. Having never actually used them, l tend to clumsily mix up the two. However the point remains…

    Concerning startup incubators; established startup practice around the world in this respect involves investment plus support for -15% equity. Thus its NOT exploitative but actually empowering. I haven’t heard of an incubation initiative that takes anything above 15% as this is a form of seed finance merged with a support structure.

    As of this moment in time unemployment and economic challenges are dangerously high in our nation, in this regard such facilities have more pros than cons. Identifying only the best talent and empowering them in return for a very minor interest is better than not having any support outlet at all. My heart bleeds when l think of the number of talented youngsters who have lacked exposure or support to conquer their dreams.

    100% agree with you concerning open source (Ushahidi, Facebook, Ubuntu, & Google are just a few examples of putting it to good use…) however it is only a tool and not a holistic enabler. Php, Drupal, or Ruby on Rails do not build startups but the confluence of minds, resources and community plus these do. The point is that incubators enable all the above. Remember that Zim was in a vacuum for a long time such that high potential developers and entrepreneurs might not be aware of certain fundamentals/trends that are essential for success. Issues such as scalable coding, legal/IPR come to mind among others.

    Naspers is not a European company. It is headquartered in Cape Town (South Africa) and has what l believe to be a 35% stake in China’s Tencent (the third biggest internet firm in the world). Its core strategy is to play in emerging markets. It also has an active interest in Mail.RU of Russia and DST. Through this it indirectly has equity in Facebook, Groupon, and Zynga among other hot web property…. checkout http://www.naspers.co.za

    In closing l’m glad you made this valuable contribution as lve been thinking about ownership/empowerment with regards to internet startups for a while. My PERSONAL opinion is that only WE are directly responsible for how much value we can create. The internet is generally devoid of race/prejudice etc such that ANYONE ANYWHERE on earth willing to take risks and work hard to build a startup can do so and be generously rewarded. No one ever turned down ebay.com because Omar Omidyar  (Ebay founder) hails from Iran, it was however embraced for it ability to add value to people’s lives. If Omar ran a conventional storefront business he likely would not be as successful. Now he’s a multi-billionaire and investing in a new breed…

    I remember pondering over shocking Silicon Valley stats recently indicating that less than 3% of Valley tech staff were African American (people of colour). Many will have much to say about this but the bigger shock is that not even Caucasians dominate. Chinese and Indians actually rule the Kingdom. This value is beginning to organically morph into OWNERSHIP. Think of Steve Chen of Youtube, and the tech blitz in India’s Banglore that is powered by both returning migrants and homegrown talent.

    @kabweza:disqus the barcamp would be a much appreciated initiative. As you stated, we just need to start these things.

    1. Tafmak3000

      Impressive! Im very convinced by your response!

      In regards to Naspers I’m sure I’m correct when I say it is owned by an EU conglomerate. ie LonZim is registered and HQ’d in Zim but 70% of it is owned  by LonRho which has an EU ownership! by extension LonZim is an EU subsidiary! 

      My argument is not based on race but on Nationality. I believe that the nationals of any nation in which an investment is committed must benefit the most simply because they contribute the most in terms of labour revenue and environmental sacrifice (By nationals I don’t mean long term/permanent residents I mean Citizens!) Whether the Nationals are black white or Asian so be it. With the Silicon Valley issue who cares which race the people are ( I don’t) as long as the main beneficiaries of the whole affair is the American public! 

      Have you ever noticed how “Foreign Buy Outs” gain the attention of the media in USA and EU countries, in some cases courts have intervened to stop the foreign “take over” of local companies by foreigners in the interest of the public! It’s interesting to note how some quarters in the USA and EU are  suddenly in a state of panic and anger at the realization that  the Chinese and other foreign business moguls are well on their way to be major (not majority) stake holders in US enterprises and industry. Now armed with the same justification and reasoning it’s long overdue for Africans black and white alike to be in the same (if not more higtened) state of anger and panic at the realization that other Nations have long owned virtually the entire stake in African enterprises and industry, Now the internet???! 

      Isn’t this what liberty, equality and justice “dictate”. Funny how these three facets of DEMOCRACY and humanity are always subjective at the expense of the poor! What is more shocking and bloody than the Silicon valley statistics are figures and statistics that show just how much Africa is loosing (in terms of human lives per hour) as a result of FDI (Foreign Direct Investment), Globalization, Industrialization or whatever other politically correct and obscure term you can conjure . 

      It is naive and unprudent to assume that issues of equality and justice can be separated and censored from fora like Tech-Zim as mere rhetoric. Lets use technology and the exchange of ideas to solve and investigate the real cause of the real problems in our Continent and in our Country (without embroiling ourselves in mere politics ofcause). 

      The real development of Africa can not happen within the context of the current global frame work and Hegemonic(manipulative) systems. We called it ESAp in the 80’s, Investment promotion in the 90’s, Globilisation in the late 90’s, African Industrialisation and now we call it “Post Financial Crisis Recovery on the back of Technogical Advancement”  Now! 

      In summary what I am saying is that:

      1. Let us embrace Incubators but there must be closely and consistently monitored, also protective legal frame works must be put in place to protect Intellectuals and Nationals! 

      2. There is nothing wrong with questioning the motives, benefit and or economic and social implications of Incubators with a broader aim of establishing their long term benefit or lack there of. In fact such dialogue is a fundamental requirement for the real realization of actual benefits and growth in the Zim Tech sector that will benefit Zimbabweans Yes!, Black and White. 

      3. Fora such as tech Zim must exist to facilitate dialogue, (that does not immediately seek to embrace and assimilate the status quo and Global frame work in which our (African) economies and tech sectors exist as dictated by none African but to question it and seek the reinvention/creation of a Global frame work that places Africa and its nationals in a genuinely fair position,  not to be recipients of assistance/grants but to orchestrators of solutions!  (Considering that the current imbalance in the share of African resources amongst The Rest of the world who consume these resources and Africans themselves continues to benefit rich powerful nations at the expense of you and me, any attempt to correct this imbalance will be faced with fierce opposition) 

      4. Incubators or any similar initiatives imposed on Africa within the current intentionally imbalanced frame work of World Economics will not create real long term growth and benefits to Zimbabwe of Africa apart from the finite number of direct beneficiaries. In that respect if we choose to accept this without “fighting” then at least our hopes and expectations must be reflective of this chosen reality!   

        Where I am wrong in thinking and opinion please do correct!  

    2. Tafmak3000


      You mentioned how incubators take aprox a max of 15% that I’m sure is Correct! 

      Incubators can buyout companies easily

      Stage 1. Winner is chosen he is given a $1 million (before 30-40% tax) most of which comes in the form of  resources  by the Incubator in exchange for a 15% stake. (Idea Owner = 85% | Investors = 15%)

      Stage 2. What is left of this money is hardly enough to start the actual business so Idea Owner puts forward some of his shares to raise starting capital. Some websites i.e Digg have had to raise up to 26 million at this stage but lets say our Idea Owner only needs $5million!  A few (3) independent investors (without using the cover of the incubator) come forward and show interest in the form of multiple (16) subsidiaries that seem unrelated. Idea Owner puts forward 55% of his shares and sells 3.4% to each subsidiary he reasons that he will remain firmly in control of his company after all he owns 30% of the company and all the other 17 investors own 3.4% each with the exception of the incubator which owns 15%.  (Idea Owner = 30% | Investors = 70%)

      Stage 3. The business hasn’t started making Profit yet so over the course of the next short period Idea Owner may dispose 8% of his shares for one reason or the other.(idea Owner = 22% | Investors) 

      Stage 4. The business still hasn’t started making Profit (which is normal for web ad-based or software startups ). Since more capital is needed the majority of the board of directors (not the major share holder who is now a minority) vote to dilute the stock (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stock_dilution) to  enable a fresh private stock offer. Because the company looks promising the stock is bought up quickly a lot of it by existing shareholders with the exception of Idea Owner who doesn’t have enough money to buy the stock . ( After Dilution Idea Owner = 9% | Investors=94% ) 

      Stage 5. At this stage the company’s net worth is $120million and it posts it’s first profit and then decides to go public. The Board votes for another dillution (Idea Owner = 6% Original Share Holders = 63% Public = 31%)

      It is revealed much later that the now 19 investors who invested in the company before it went public are infact investment vehicles of just 3 offshore  investors who effectively now own 63% percent imbwanyoro.com. 

      Idea Owner= 6%

      Offshore Investor 1 = 21%

      Offshore Investor 2 = 25%
      Offshore Investor 3 = 12%

      Incubator = 2%

      PUBLIC = 31%

      Stage 6. Other Big Offshore Investors buy up 18% of the public Offering and Idea Owner barely manages to buy back 1.9%!

      Idea Owner= 7.9%Offshore Investor 1 = 21%Offshore Investor 2 = 25%
      Offshore Investor 4 = 12%Offshore Investor 5 = 5%Offshore Investor 6 = 7%Offshore Investor 7 = 4%

      Offshore Investor 5 = 2%

      Offshore Investor 5 = 2% (former Stockholding of Incubator)
      Chiyangwa = 1.5%Econet = 6%Telecel = 3%General Public = 6.5%IF YOU THINK THIS DOESN’T HAPPEN ASK NIGEL! 

  7. Clinton D. Mutambo

    @Tafmak3000 Thank you for this very very very (just multiply very by a 1000) valuable contribution. This is not an argument but a discussion l hope others are following and will add value to. I must declare in no uncertain terms that the sentiments below are not “politically motivated” but rather factually driven. This is going to be long as l’m answering 2 posts…Here goes:

    The demystifying of financial literacy is one of the most important facets of building value in our chosen sector and broader socio-economic context. Without diverting, think of the financial crisis and the debt mountain ordinary Americans are in today. The Pareto Principle has defined the world for centuries now and it is time to democratise knowledge from a microscopic (mostly western) elite to mass uptake and implentation on a broader (“globalised”) level. It simply dictates that in a chosen scenario 80% of core value (effect) is derived from 20% of actions (cause). 2% of the world’s population owns 80% of resources… This law applies in most cases but MUST be defeated in the context of spreading value to HISTORICALLY DISADVANTAGED quarters.

    I followed a World Economic Forum on Africa debate that was recently held in Cape Town with vigor. In a discussion on BRICS and other emerging markets (including Africa) a Harvard Professor spoke of the need for the world to have a frontline leader in Europe and the US(the west…). He went on to state that the lack of such would result in a dysfunctional world. He was of course intelligently refuted by an Indian trade minister who laughed off such a belief and unambiguously declared that the developing world wants a new world order and is creating it. For example, Africa and India contribute 8% to global warming yet account for approximately 40% of the population…Furthermore they will suffer the most from its negative effects. Now who wants to be seen as “champions” of the climate change mission. This is a whole subject on its own I’ll leave here as the point is clear.

    This is the information age (ICT). The currency of success ultimately exists in the ability to efficiently receive and process information as part of decision making & the socio-economic value chain. One great example is how farmers and fishermen in Kenya, Zambia and many other nations on our continent are now able to receive realtime access to market prices through the mobile phone (value added sms etc). This impact has been profoundly uplifting as these farmers were previously subject to rampant exploitation by both local and especially foreign traders (for example, Ethiopian coffee is highly rated but farmers were struggling to send their children to school). The power of ICT as a tool to bridge economic divides is unrivaled. However this power (like any other) is subject to abuse if put in the wrong or exploitative hands (e.g high tariffs-poor service).

    Moving on to the ownership issue (with regards to the tech and other service sectors), knowledge is once more a very vital tool before embarking on ANY venture. Its unfortunate that l cannot post any graphical charts as l would have loved to do so. I shall however catagorise my contribution as follows:

    1. For Entrepreneurs

    When venturing out in the high tech (and other) internet, renewable energy or other sectors it is important to understand why you are doing so and the milestones thereafter. In this respect lets generalise and say that there are two basic types of entrepreneurs. Firstly the serial entrepreneur is a specimen that ventures out into a given venture solely to build value and ultimately to handover (sell,dispose whatever) the beauty he/she will have built. This is called flipping (build-operate-transfer) and is a “sector” on its own…He/she gets rewarded for creating value and hands over the business to investors who further add value and so on.

    With relevance to Zimbabwe,The man who started Celsys  is a man called Gary Shayne. He sucessfully “flipped” Celsys firstly on the ZSE to raise cash for expansion and then sold the firm to LonZim (Lonrho). Interestingly, this guy sold the company for approx $6m at a time when its actual value as dictated by the share price was approx $2m. This is a perfect example of successfully exiting such an investment. Recently Skype’s investors mirrored this on a grander scale by exiting to Microsoft for $8.5 Billion yet the tabled IPO valuation for Skype was roughly $2 billion.

    The second entrepreneur is the long haul type. This type is in it for eternity and will build a company and carefully bring in investors without diluting equity to an extent where he/she loses control. Bill Gates is a perfect example of a man who kept a firm grip on his venture, on the other hand Steve Jobs initially failed to distinguish these two differences and was OVERTHROWN from Apple in 1997.

    Failure to distinguish between the two is catastrophic.

    2. For Investors

    Investors exist in many shapes and sizes in the tech sector.

    The angel investor is a private (high net worth) individual who injects cash into a startup for both financial and community purposes. This is done informally. They normally take 10% equity and expect at least 20% Return On Investment within 5 years.

    The venture capitalist is a much more formal investor (a company) that puts in money that is normally under management (a hedge fund scenario) with high expectations and will even have representatives on a board. I believe that the defining difference with such types and private equity is that most venture capital in the tech sector is injected way before the startup generates a profit (Amazon took 10 years to break even). Private equity investors are diversified in terms of sectors and they expect the business to make money chop chop. A local example of this is a German based PE firm that bought a controlling interest in Premier Finance. They have now offloaded to the Pan African banking concern, Ecobank.

    3. For Entrepreneurs and Investors

    After reading the above we should now all be able to understand Tafmac3000’s correct examples of how founders get diluted and why. For both parties it is essential to understand the life-cycle of tech ventures that are high growth and globally scalable. This is VERY important and is as follows (derived from a South African Venture Capital Association chart l treasure and could not post):


    A.Concept R&D – Seed Finance

    A startup will need to invest in DEEP research and development of the concept. This begins with conceiving then refining an idea and then a proof of concept stage to ensure that the idea is applicable or it works. This important stage is normally (internationally) financed by either 1. Angel Investors 2. The 3 Fs (Friends, Fools and Family), l’ve always found the fools part really funny and attribute it to those types that expect a runaway success overnight… Amounts vary depending on the venture’s potential and need. At this stage expect the startup to be headquartered in a garage, dorm room, bed room etc It is advisable for any percieved intellectual property to be protected at this stage as it protects all parties’ interests. 

    *Please note that startup incubators fall under this category but further their investment by providing space, resources etc

    At this stage 10-15 percent equity will be ceded by the founder/s

    B. Setup and Formalising – Series A Finance

    This next stage will involve commercialising the concept after the above refinement. A company is incorporated (if not already incorporated), offices opened up, staff hired, advertising done etc. The business will usually not yet be generating any revenue. This stage will require more cash and is the stage at which established Venture Capital firms come in.

    They normally take 10-35% equity and pump in anything between $1million and right up to $50 million. This again is all dependent on the potential of the business and capabilities of the founder/s. At this stage the founder/s is free to take some money off the table from such an injection as a form of cashing in on part their equity.

    *The Angel investors or 3Fs can exist here by cashing in on their investment, they can however decide to hang in for exist at a higher valuation/return.

    C. International Scaling- Series B Finance

    This is another step up the ladder and involves global expansion (setting up foreign offices etc). At this stage the startup might be generating revenue but without a break even as yet (This is a high stake sector driven by user reception). At this stage the founder/s cede equity oncemore and receive a cash injection. As Tafmak3000 pointed out, the same investors from Series A normally snap up series B. This is because they are given first preference as investors already committed to the business.

    Again a respective amount of equity is ceded by the founder/s

    D. Further Expansion -Series C/D/E  – LATE STAGE FINANCE

    Naturally this is the stage at which the BULK of investors come out to play as it is less riskier however the success of the Googles and Facebooks of this day is resulting in an unprecedented level of early stage investors.

    (This also explains the rise of the INCUBATION HUB as investors are prepared to take a higher degree of risk to identify and be part of the next big thing.)

    This is a big money stage and investment can breach the $100m mark. Once more the founder/s cede equity and the business is normally expected to be making money at this stage.

    From here on founder/s and even institutional investors will shift ownership of the venture to other investors, the stock market etc Founders have been known to actually buy back their ventures and so forth…


    Understanding the above is an absolute for both sides of the coin. A good friend often points out how there are venture capitalists and and VULTURE CAPITALISTS. Its a humorous way for entrepreneurs/developers to be vigilant. on the other hand for investors in this green field sector (in Zimbabwe’s liquidity stifled economy) understanding the above is a sine qua non to avoid conflict & confusion.

    The world is now flat. Anyone, anywhere with the guts and attitude to build something of note can now do so. Zimbabwe is a very rare example that HAS NOT entered this “globalisation” of knowledge and value, hence why we are having this discussion.

    Kabweza and l were recently discussing how Techcrunch (the premium US tech blog) featured Nigerian startups. This is a country with a FAR WORSE “reputation” than whatever misconceptions abound about Zimbabwe yet it is receiving a front seat feature on Techcrunch ! There are many factors at play here but the ultimate point is that Zimbabwe has the capacity to produce a pocket of globally relevant startups, furthermore doing so will require US forming an applicable incubator/united front . This can either be a localisation of tried and tested methods of doing so or a hybrid model (whatever the case).

    The conclusive point is that something needs to be done and that something begins with us banding together and cross pollinating ideas,  support and advice.  Parretos law will apply here as the few pioneers will eventually inspire and empower the many. Thats how its supposed to work.


    I rolled up a small but steady experiential marketing firm (Uhai Media) as l felt that l was putting in much more energy and resources than l was getting out. Instead of growing the system punsihed me for taking risks. After spending the last 7 months fully focusing on refining my concept at home l can attest to the difficulties of pursuing this route, however l have never been happier (and broker lol). The benefits of thinking global and pursuing this route far outweigh the costs as l now have an agreement with a prominent Hong Kong based Internet firm (with very exciting prospects)

    Funding has been a huge challenge but its never easy. I also believe our local high net worths can play a more active role in empowering the next generation of entrepreneurs. A spiderweb doctrine of uplifting our nation and continent needs to be put into action as this will actually benefit incumbents. In other words more great startups will have a domino effect of promoting employment, investment and GDP per capita. As a result you will actually wake up to a middle class and vibrant economy as is the case with Malaysia…

    Frankly; we need more African people venturing into tech as developers/entrepreneurs and investors both locally and especially internationally. In South Africa you’ll see the same pattern; angel investors and startups are mostly of European decent and the so called BEE preneurs are nowhere to be found in this regard. Perhaps its likely because no young upstarts are building anything. A Financial Mail article last year alluded this to the fact that young Africans are pressurised to pursue safer avenues of earning a living (hence the docotera & rawyer reference in my article)

    @8f4cbe9a828bc64fd6b6d5e8fb0559b5:disqus  l couldn’t agree with you more; irregardless of race we need to get YOUNG ZIMBABWEANS getting into this field. This will require a platform for us to get together and go for the hunt. Hence the need for corporate players to back such a platform.

    Thank you for affording me this opportunity to learn and also make a contribution. By the way Naspers IS fully South African- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Naspers



    1. Tafmak3000

      Please find my main response to this post below! Meanwhile as @7be29a7da30d7e51d7b5e31875e3f6d2:disqus  pointed out we need create platforms for people to come forward. 

      The following must however be kept in mind!

      1. Platforms modeled from foreign prototypes will quickly become superficial as they attempt to assimilate the successes and outcomes of their inspiration out of context thus becoming irrelevant to the unique local challenges in the process alienating ordinary people . For example Zimbos are now obsessed with coming up with a new Facebook which automatically stunts their ability to think of developments that fall outside social networking which is not the greatest need in Zimbabwe.

      2. Such a platform must not necessarily be a place where minds come to agree but in fact a place where minds come to disagree intellectually and with reason. 

      3. Such a platform must take into account (without loosing focus of ICT) other realities that exist i.e socio political, health, civil and education etc in order to remain relevant and beneficial to ordinary people. 

      4. Such a platform must not be a place to embrace and shower praise on all things technological as many tech fanatics tend to do but to “Question all things technological” with an aim of identifying successes and isolating failures. It is this that will allow new thought for better alternatives to arise. 

      5. Such a platform must be Zimbabwean taking into account and respecting the nation of zimbabwe, it’s laws, it’s people, the diversity of its people that is  their cultures, races, religions and history. Within this context such a platform must seek to find solutions that improve the well being across different demographics that are part of our great nation.   

      6.  Such a platform must inspire hope, confidence, knowledge and a new for of patriotism and pride for Zimbabwe and ALL it’s people, 

      7. Such a platform must result in a new way of thinking!

      1. Anonymous

        agree on building a startup ecosystem and platforms with local realities (economics, socio, politics etc…) in mind and ensure it’s not just copied from other economies. applies not just to tech but all sectors. 

        lessons learnt from other places though are invaluable and should be taken into account. so more of learn from and not copy. 

        At the end of the day whatever first platform that gives entrepreneurs a chance to showcase their talent/ideas does not to be perfect. lessons can be learnt from failures and adjustments made or other individuals learn and start something different. it needs to start however and not wait for the perfection of ideologies… 

        The imbalances of our world, of this country even, cannot be fixed in a day. it’s a step at a time. acknowledging the issues is a start. and keeping them in mind does influence direction, tone etc… wanting to fix them immediately may not be the best strategy.

        trying to say here sometimes a worm’s eye view to problems may provide solutions to the small problems and when scaled have a chance at the bigger problems. a birds eyeview may be good only for the realization of the long terms, large scale issues that need to be kept in mind.

        thought the same about local Facebooks. case of too much movie watching and techcrunch reading to me. But I’d rather they didn’t stop. I’d rather they launched fast, failed fast and pick up lessons from the experience. better doing that than sitting somewhere talking about great unique ideas that will change the world.

        jus my 2 cents

        P.S. on people not joining in. I think it’s about the size of the comments.  Comments that size would normally be a separate post on the blog. And these issues (and points you raise) are important enough to deserve that.

        1. Tafmak3000

          I agree completely that an ill thought solutions that abruptly happens is better than a well thought one that never does! The ideal solution however is one that stays true to the first but the closest it can be to the later! 

          I am a strong believer that actions come from thought which it’s self is taught through speech! Thus talking and doing cannot be separated, what can be separated are those who talk and those who listen and do! So let no one make the mistake that when lecturers stop talking the’ll do, NO! Talkers will alway talk so let them talk! some from from a worm’s eye view others from a birds eye view and the rest from in between that way those who act will have a lot to listen to and get inspired from. Most practical solutions came from Impractical often radical thought that was spoken by mere speakers and rationalized by doers through practical experience. The same like you aptly mention must be allowed to happen in Zim. Let the impractical radicals suggest and the doers prove them right or wrong!  (All i’m saying is that all these suggestions however radical must stay firmly within context and cognisant of how the world really works! not blindly adopt the media’s  rating-centric highly politicised dramatizations propagated on our TV’s today )  Lastly the big picture is always important! there is nothing as distractive as the perfect medicine given out of context! If you administer a solution to a misdiagnosed problem by only looking at micro symptoms without contextualizing the entire issue then you are in danger of causing greater harm! In medicine people die as a result of other wise noble intentions! Lastly i’d like to commend Tech Zim a rare example of how some talkers like yourself step over the line and become doers!  

  8. Tafmak3000

    @twitter-297894609:disqus Very educational!, the discussion must continue none the less. 
    It’s a shame no one else got involved!

    Your response however theoretically sound and intellectually solid it may be it will find its self torn to pieces by the practical realities on the ground, so goes the famous adage “theory rarely ever meets practice”! The world is now flat, indeed! but it remains very much slanted! 

    There is a desperate need by intellects to separate politics from economics, unfortunately though you will almost always find politics in bed with economics. Your response for reasons I believe I may know does not take into account these political realities! For example where you take the World Economic Forum as a fair platform that strives to “balance” the “imbalances” of the world I choose to question the WEF and it’s motives altogether, you may ask why?  Simply put the answer is this: the world in it’s current form of brutal imbalance is a result of centuries of engineering and architecture. in even simpler terms the setup we have today where the majority gather up for the few without complaining or asking questions is an engineering masterpiece thanks to generation after generation of a certain breed of very greedy and selfish capitalist engineer. Now to ask the beneficiaries of this machine the instructions to dismantle it is outright naive ignorance and laziness  

    The World Bank, IMF etc are outcomes of the Marshal Plan, the Marshal plan itself was a way to maintain control of the resources and economies of former colonies!

    ( At this point you probably  are thinking that i’m in political rhetoric mode, but please feel free to do your own Independent research on anything I say here onwards! )

    ESAP(Economic Structural Adjustment Program) for example was not a failure in fact it was a tremendous success depending on which angle you are looking from! ESAP allowed the major controllers of the Zim economy at the time of independance (Britain and by extension the USA)  to keep thir influence unchanged if not enlarged. This unfairly gigantic  stake and tyrannical control of the Zim economy still exists largely unchanged in Africa today.  It is in fact that control of “third world” economies that literary puts food on the tables of these countries. The moment the unfair dynamics of control change in Africa, hunger and political strife will become the order of the day in EU/USA! 

    Do you know what hurt Britain’s economy the most during WW2? It wasn’t their industries shifting their production efforts to weapons and other war material/ or the bombing raids by Germany” It was in fact the German U-Boats patrolling the Atlantic Ocean that cut the path of passage between Africa and Europe. Without Africa’s Food and Resources Britain effectively became a “third world itself”. That sadly enough remains ever more true today. 

    Technically Africa can be successful in isolation, but none of the other continents can exist without Africa! Also any growth within the African continent can be exponentially linked with a decline in the growth of EU, USA &  CHINESE (in fact all the other continents)  economies! In over simplified terms the growth of Africa will lead to a decline in Europe! A developed Africa will use up more of it’s food and resources at the expense of other continents who feel they deserve them more than you and I! 

    For EU/USA to remain functional: 

    THE PLAN:-  It is therefore important that exportation as opposed to processing and consumption remains the main agenda in Africa.

    This argument held until Africa began to voice their interest in value addition of their own resources, as a result the engineers went to the drawing board and came back with a solution that would result in the improvement of processing capacity in Africa

    THE NEW PLAN:- In the case where processing becomes the unavoidable agenda of an African nation the owners and thus beneficiaries both materially and financially of such processing entities must remain EU/USA/ while of-cause creating the appearance that that processing concern is loyal and beneficial to the host nation. In fact this outcome has the added benefit of giving the owners their financial reward with reduced labour costs and no cost what so ever to their immediate environment. This also does not affect the flow of resources to EU/USA as whatever product produced  must first be exported to EU/USA as they offer better prices anywhere. 

    The agenda still remains the same: Africa must give – wether raw or processed; EU/USA all the resources they need to build their own economies, additionaly they must allow EU/USA to control the processing and production of these resources within Africa after which they can collect all the profits that in turn support their own economies at the expense of Africa. 

    PLEASE provide evidence of a case where the WEF, IMF, EU, WFP, UN, WHO e.t.c has advocated for and actively worked towards any policy that goes against the above! In fact any policy that goes against this will be quickly rephrased demonized and shot down (funny enough by Africans as well)

    At this stage it is important to note that some of the strongest opponents of African de-colonization and liberation movements where black African intellects, they reasoned that it wouldn’t happen/work in some cases they actively sought to sabotage it.  

    The WEF, IMF, EU, WFP, UN e.t.c  are in place to keep us hopeful, busy talking, planing and researching about change that will never really happen under the current Global frame work while the real McCoy is at work. 

    In fact I read somewhere that the policies of the IMF and the World Bank were and continue to be the main impediments of African growth since their formation! What “they” don’t want “us” to ask is 

    “Wait a minute! We must continue to export all our resources so that we earn money from economies whose strength is backed on our resources at the same time importing products that are made directly from our own resources. Its all about our resources isn’t It?  ”
    Let’s not be naive here. If anyone thinks that the solution to our problems will come from somewhere else or that the ICT sector exists in a Utopian vacuum free of economic greed and political influence keep dreaming . 

    For as long as we come up with a policy they facilitate it won’t change much!

    IMPORTANT NOTE: By “they” I mean capitalist warlords not a person of any particular race or the citizen of any particular nation. 

    I wish I could have addressed your question more directly but I had to establish the backdrop of my opinion before we progress!  

    In regards to Nespars:
    It’s only African Technically, but it hardly benefits the Nationals of South Africa! More specifically like they admit themselves it’s Afrikaner. Do your research you’ ll know what that means! 

    Please invite more people to this discussion by dropping them a link to your article. I thinks it can only get more beneficial!


  9. Richwell Captain Phinias

    Good Lecture Room atmosphere

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