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Zimbabwean tech hub Hypercube closes, cites challenges with funding

Young people working at a startup

One of the co-working spaces at Hypercube being used by a startup team in 2014  

Hypercube Hub, a Zimbabwean technology hub that has acted as one of the centres for the local tech startup ecosystem will be closing its doors for good on New Year’s Eve.

In a communication sent out earlier today by Hypercube Hub, the team outlined local economic challenges and a failure to secure the funding necessary for the hub to continue its operations as the reason behind the closure. Part of the statement read,

The board of trustees has been tirelessly working around the clock for the past 11 months hoping for a different outcome. The truth is that Hypercube has been facing challenges for quite some time including, ensuring we had the right team to execute of our mandate, underestimating the turbulent Zimbabwe economy, implementing adequate policies and procedures, significant delays in the little income we were receiving to cover operational expenses, and adapting our business model quickly enough to reflect the realities of the Zimbabwe marketplace.

Hypercube Hub was formed in 2013 as a collaborative effort that brought together the United States State Department (through the US Embassy Harare), Indigo Trust and Hivos.  $280,000 was secured for the hub through grant funding and it was officially opened in November 2013.

Since then, the Hub has acted as a co-working space and meeting point for several events and actvities in the Zimbabwean tech ecosystem that have included the Startup Weekend, TEDx Harare, Robofest, DEMO Africa pre-pitch events and Google Developer Group meetups. The hub also housed some local startups such as RoadRules.

At the start of 2015 Hypercube introduced a paid membership system that was meant to counter the effects of an unsustainable business model. However, this appears to have been inadequate to meet the needs of the hub.

Other technology hubs have emerged locally over the past few years. These include Econet Wireless’ Muzinda Hub, Emerging Ideas, SkyHub, MotoRepublik, Stimulus Hub, Area46 and iZone Hub.

The issue of practical business models for technology and innovation hubs has always been a topic for discussion both locally and beyond the Zimbabwe’s borders and hubs have had to come with strategies to meet the operational expectations in running their spaces.

With challenges being noted with the model used by cases like Hypercube Hub, it remains to be seen how the other workspaces, hubs and incubators in Zimbabwe adapt to certain realities.

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13 thoughts on “Zimbabwean tech hub Hypercube closes, cites challenges with funding

  1. I once pointed out to some hub founders that this model is unsustainable in the long run and boy was I attacked for being short sighted and pessimistic…

  2. The co-founders put their own interest before the interests of the community and the result was flushing away of US$200 000 down the toilet, when they started the hub didnt they know about the country economic situation or the nature of donors. Were they thinking that a hub is like famine which makes donors to respond year in year out. Zimbabwe was the last country to have a hub and they should have known wht they are getting into through lessons from other countries. whoever was in charge of that thing must be held accountable and not to sing the donor funding mantra which is now monotonous just like the sanctions anthem

  3. Mhhhh pakadyiwa mari apa. We need a follow up article. How do you blow 280K on random events. l am not buying their reason. If they got Funding in the first place why could they get a second round of funding. Normally donors would not let a ship sink like this for no reason. I think if you (techZim) talk to their donors you will hear a different reason. If ever anyone did an audit of their books l am sure they would find some serious skeletons. At any rate if they where paying rent and not taking salaries they would still have change. if they started giving themselves salaries before they generated income ….then they should not blame the environment. I think it was a case of gross mis-management of funds. There are lots of startups that go by with way less than they had. What experience did these guys have in running such a business anyway? A co working space is the most basic of models….mari yakadyiwa ne maboora ngoma aya. Its sad that people play mickey mouse with money like that.

  4. Its always said that Zim people are the most educated in africa, if thats true how come these developres/coders/programmers haven’t come up with one solid application that will put zimbabwe on top of the map like other countries ?. All these hackerthons/code me chi chi are a waste of time and money, nothing really comes out of that shit.

    1. I dnt think that statement is true.we have one of the highest literacy rate but unfortunately that doesn’t translate to being the most educated or innovative.
      The simple truth is we dnt have enough people with the will power to go the extra mile.any solid IT business will tell you it takes at least 3 years to start making significance income or better still profits.The problem with Zimbabwe is evryone is looking for a quick buck and noone has the focus to look into the future,thats wisdom which also has nothing to do with our high literacy rate

  5. with 280k they could have started by buying their own place for the hub, anyway its just business and am sure the co-founders benefited. after all its donor funds, no trouble for me.

  6. Sad to see HyperCube Hub fold.. this is a blow to the startup community.. whatever the reason for the folding its a sad development. I pray that those that have hubs coming up will learn a thing or two and ensure theirs will be around for lomg. we need a tech revolution and it is through these hubs where these ideas are born

  7. tech revolutiin can come from any other source, let us not restrict ourselves to hub mentallity. many longstanding huge IT giants came from garages with no known donor funds or hubs involved.

  8. Zimbabweans are dumb this is sad. Most educated people in Africa cannot keep a hub open. Go figure!

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