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Here’s our Q & A with the team behind Simba Savannah, Zimbabwe’s new business pitch reality show

Zimbabwean entrepreneurship, Simba Savannah, Zimbabwean businesses

if you are a fan of local enterprise you might have noticed that a new reality TV show, Simba Savannah, premiered on ZTV on Sunday night providing viewers with a glimpse of Zimbabwean entrepreneurship and business innovation.

Modelled along the lines of The United States’ Shark Tank and the global business series Dragon’s Den, each episode of Simba Savannah has two different entrepreneurs pitching their business ideas to five Zimbabwean business leaders (called Simbas which is Swahili for lions) for investment and additional assistance such as mentorship and skills support.

The five Simbas are Ritesh Anand, Nigel ChanakiraChamu Chiwanza, Gary Thompson and Florence Ziumbe.

Simba Savannah which was delivered local production house C Media was directed by Tommy Deuschle, the founder of local hub Emerging Ideas.

It is a collaborative effort that involved local entities that included Emerging Ideas, entrepreneurship hub Udugu Institute (the guys behind last year’s Innovation Baraza), and Steward Bank.

We caught up with Tommy and got some additional information on the direction of the show and how entrepreneurs can be a part of the next edition.

We also got his perspective on the launch of Zimbabwe’s Dragon’s Den  – another reality business pitch show that will air later this year.

How do entrepreneurs get to be a part of it?

The show developed from a grass roots pulse. First with two years of Pitch Night and then with Innovation Baraza. We want to keep involvement at that level going forward so that there’s a thriving community that climaxes into the show. We’ll be letting people know how they can step up to the camera for season 2 in the coming weeks. Right now entrepreneurs and innovators can get involved in the conversation happening online, and be on the look out for upcoming Pitch Nights, or Innovation Baraza’s. We’ve managed to launch Pitch Nights beyond Harare with the recent launch in Bulawayo. we want the reach to be bigger.

Which stage does your business have to be at to participate?

The idea stages we are looking at are similar to the way pitch night presenters, and Innovation Baraza participants are selected. The project or idea should have some existing momentum or traction, apart from just a concept. A first sale, a prototype or beta site/platform.

Is there any direct relationship with Savannah Fund in East Africa?


Will there be incubation for the businesses or its just funding?

The incubation role in each deal made is key. I can say that all of the Simba’s have intentions of mentoring each innovator they commit too (as long as all info presented was accurate). It’s just as important as any cash funding. How much incubation? That’s really up to the Simba’s who pounce on the opportunities.

What sort of direction are you hoping for the show?

Launching more good ideas to the market. Connecting innovators to legitimate mentors and opportunities and educating and inspiring Zimbabwe. The bonus factor is that viewers enjoy the humour, candidness and personalities that dance around on set. I remember after the first few pitches in the making of the show one of the Simbas loudly declared on set. “I’m so impressed that these ideas are local and it makes me proud to be Zimbabwean.” That feeling should ripple into homes, and motivate entrepreneurs and to step out and do more.

Will the episodes be available online at some point?

Yes. We are working on that.

Who have you collaborated with on this project?

This has been the case of #collaborative brilliance in action. CMedia Africa are partners with Udugu Institute on this project but we’ve collaborated and received amazing support from our friends at the US Embassy, Emerging Ideas, and of course Steward Bank. And then of course… The Simbas.

There’s been an announcement that a Zimbabwean Dragon’s Den edition is set to go live this year. How are you distinguishing yourself from it?

I think what already makes this Simba Savannah unique is the community that was there before the show started, and the diverse set of partners involved in it who have been working with entrepreneurs at a grass root level in different ways. It evolved into a show. The dynamic personalities of the Simba’s create a completely unique comradery. As a local based story telling company, we had tons of fun producing the show – and hope people enjoy it. For the record – I think it’s great that there’s more initiatives being launched to propel Zimbabwean innovation.


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23 thoughts on “Here’s our Q & A with the team behind Simba Savannah, Zimbabwe’s new business pitch reality show

  1. i’d totally watch this. but why only on ZBC?? most people have abandoned that! 🙁

    1. I would advise ALL potential applicants to treat this with a severe degree of caution! DO NOT be fooled into handing over your potentially awesome business idea to strangers! You’ll certainly live to regret it!

  2. Opportunity for entepreneurs to showcase their products to Zimbabwe & moreso to potential funders.

    This is great – combined with the Dragons den that i hear is coming to Zimbabwe soon, this is a good thing for Zimbabwean entrepreneurs

    I like how they have created a nationwide community for entrepreneurs & using this to get entrepreneurs . Now we just need a couple of unicorn startups to list on the ZSE

    yes conditions are not good in zim economy but i believe that u just need to solve problems that people are facing with your product in a cheaper & more efficient way & people will come onboard.

  3. So, the prize is ‘incubation’ and ‘potential funding’, why not guaranteed funding? This is a terrible deal for the pitchers, unless you’re a media whore/promoting your personal ‘brand’. Why would you prematurely announce your strategy to the world for nothing in return?

    1. My thinking is that what stops these Simbas to run away with your idea and make money from a re-branded version?.

      1. I think as an entrepreneur, if u were to go to this show, your business shld really have gained some solid traction such that its very difficult for the Simbas to run with your idea.

        1. I think as an entrepreneur, if u were to go to this show, your business shld really have gained some solid traction

          If you already have traction, than why go to the show? The whole setup doesn’t make any sense. However, I’m sure there are enough young and foolish souls who think they are the next Zuckerbergs to fill the roster. Youth is wasted on the young.

  4. I would advise ALL potential applicants to treat this with a severe degree of caution! DO NOT be fooled into handing over your potentially awesome business idea to strangers! You’ll certainly live to regret it!

  5. Someone should help people protect their concepts from theft. These people are not always what they seem. They could be just out to steal intellectual property from people who do not have the means nor the knowledge to protect themselves.
    Possible funding… and not guaranteed! Does this program have the support of CCZ, or Ministry of Small to medium enterprises? Does the vendors association know of this…? I feel various stakeholders are needed to be present to help protect people.

    1. Apart from being paranoid you seem uninformed to all this business pitching game . what does the vendors association and ministries have to do with it . this kind of thinking that government has to stick its nose into everything is backward.

      however i am on the same side with you .. there is risk ,,ideas can be stolen

      1. I might not be very technically knowlegeable of all the relevant stakeholders, but we do live in a world with a govt which is meant to represent and protect its citizens. Whether they have failed to or not, we are constitutionally expected to expect their intervention on such matters.
        You will realise associations such as vendors association represents a group of entrepreneurs… and the ministry represents sme’s which are the cornerstone of innovation, hence my insistence that they vet the objective of such a program and support it if need be, by even offering lessons on patenting.

        1. Mambo, you got it right when you mentioned ‘patenting’- @ the likes of Ernst & Young etc. But to add maybe, gaining momentum on a Social Media Group where you have a following of your ideology/ concept.

          ANTI-THEFT UNIT did the same, they seem to be doing steady fair progress.

  6. this is realy a great programme but guys to be realistic some ideas need to be protected cause u never nkw who is watching the show,cause some one with money will be watching u pitching ur idea and can easly take it

  7. I want to be part of this what can i do because i have a registered company but i dont have money to start my business

  8. I want to be a part of this but have no idea of the selection criteria. What are the requirements for selection.

    1. its all Good news what you have started & Are doing , i would also Love to be Sponsored on Free range supplimentary Fed Organic Poultry project ‘ie; Ducks ; Roadrunner ; Turkey & Guinea fowl: How do i go about Seeing you?

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