I don’t care who you support or where on the political spectrum you are. All of that is immaterial because doing business as a startup or an entrepreneur is exceedingly difficult in Zimbabwe. The payments system, for example, is a maze with one dead end after another.
So what am I asking you to do? Well, next year is probably when the election season is set to start and you have to make sure that everyone from your ward councillor to the executive branch hears your grievances.
Let this election season not be mired in ideology
If you have lived through a Zimbabwean election cycle then you know how the story goes. Regalia and posters from all those participating will be plastered everywhere. Prospectives and incumbents will be waxing lyrical about political science, philosophy and the likes.
Now, all of this is great because we get to hear the ideas being peddled by whoever has found a soapbox and a willing crowd. I don’t know about you but aren’t you tired of the broad strokes and copy and paste promises?
Of course you are, and since you are reading this I am guessing you are a techie or an entrepreneur. Well, this time we need to demand that whatever pamphlets and messages that are going to be put out are more granular.
Infrastructure projects and grand plans are all well and good but new industries need building and Zimbabwe needs to step into the future. As much as there are deficits and deficiencies across the board, the old way of doing things has clearly fallen short.
Startups are building nations
With the way 2020 went and 2021 looking much the same, entrepreneurs need to make sure that anyone seeking office understands that startups are building nations.
Now, I have to admit that I didn’t arrive at this “get in their face strategy” alone. It was inspired in large part by a Twitter Space that was hosted by Kuda Musasiwa founder of Fresh in a Box and Ryan Katayi, CEO of FarmHut last week.
Hearing that startups that should have been thriving were actually struggling took many in attendance aback. Furthermore, the way the market itself is focusing on a narrow set of business models and ideas to the point that its cannibalizing was equally distressing.
The overwhelming consensus was that we need to make those who are about to get on the road and seek your vote aware of the problems small businesses are facing.
Let’s start with a Startup Act
We need a legal framework or many that create a conducive environment for startups in Zimbabwe. Without this, we will continue to be bottlenecked into competing for the same spaces and not properly challenge companies like EcoCash who desperately need the competition.
A Startup Act is what Zimbabwe and many other African countries are lacking. We need a different set of rules for vision and potential. The Company’s Act and laws like it are grossly insufficient and some would say outdated for how businesses are emerging.
I won’t waste your time by explaining what it is, one of our contributors said it better than I ever could. And you can click and open in another tab the link below.
Leverage online platforms if you have access to them
Local lawmakers are making their presence on social media and online platforms more pronounced by the day. If they have time to tweet or host a Twitter space, get in there and let your voice be heard. If they don’t have a social media account they have will surely have an email address or even a P.O Box.
I am saying this with the full knowledge that I am not just speaking to just one kind of entrepreneur. I am sure there is someone here in the logistics space, e-commerce, software development, mobility and many other industries.
I am, after all, just a writer who gets a fraction of a picture of an industry if it should come across my radar. You, on the other hand, have struggled to get to where ever you are now and have an acute understanding of the insufficiencies that are affecting your industry.
There is no one better than you to speak the language of your tradesmen to people who are very similar to me. Those who only get a snapshot of the kaleidoscope of what makes an economy tick. The biggest difference is, of course, that I am not in a position to participate in the process of crafting laws.
Dispense with the name-calling and vulgarities
Being rude or using colourful language has rarely gotten anyone anywhere. The only way that any of us can begin to make a difference or at the very least push the needle to those conversations is through consistent and persistent messaging.
Whether you are writing a thesis in a Twitter thread or you are blessed with the gift of brevity (in reply or reaching out to whoever aligns with your political views) you have to be, at the very least, civil. Doing otherwise would be a disservice to the cause and would most certainly block any avenue to proper discourse.
What’s important is that those building future industries need to get their message into the ears and feeds of those who are running in 2023. Because without your input, what hope do we have that anyone on the political spectrum will suddenly figure it out?
And what if they don’t listen?
Then great, we go again and again and again! If you think one email or mention is going to change anything then you are mistaken. What I mean is that you need to channel your inner three-year-old and say it over and over until you get a reply.
And don’t think we will be sitting in the terraces, not at all. Techzim will keep doing what it has always been doing. However, we can’t speak to the depth at which you can about your sphere of competence. If you want the tide to turn, you have to be an active participant.