Day 2 of Potraz/ITU event and the state of the ecosystem that should drive innovation is mapped

Leonard Sengere Avatar

The ITU/Potraz event we discussed yesterday entered Day 2 and was all about mapping the digital innovation ecosystem. Don’t worry, you’ll understand what that means when we get to what was mapped.

The goal was to map out the roles and actions of stakeholders at each stage of the start-up’s lifecycle. Feel free to disagree with what was mapped out and share your own opinion in the comments section below.

How it works

The group had to decide whether there was adequate evidence and activities (green), some evidence and activities (yellow) or inadequate evidence and activities (red) when assessing the maturity of the ecosystem.

We won’t be able to go through every matter but here’s what the group agreed was the case:


  • Is there interest in becoming an entrepreneur in the ecosystem? – Some evidence and activities 🟑
  • Are innovators discovering relevant problems to work on? – Inadequate evidence and activities πŸ”΄
  • Do entrepreneurs have the skills they need to develop strong business skills? – Inadequate evidence and activities πŸ”΄
  • Do entrepreneurs support one another in the ecosystem? – Inadequate evidence and activities πŸ”΄


  • Is funding available for innovators to do research? – Some evidence and activities 🟑 [On this one I felt it should have been a dark shade of red however some in academia swore they are swimming in research funding so we settled on ‘some evidence.’
  • Is high-risk investment available for early-phase entrepreneurs and startups? – Inadequate evidence and activities πŸ”΄
  • Are SMEs able to get support through traditional investment and loans? – Some evidence and activities 🟑 (I would have put a red on it but turns out there is little evidence of this)

Entrepreneurial support networks

  • Are there events that gather, connect and inspire innovators? – Some evidence and activities 🟑
  • Can innovators join events to validate or develop their ideas? [Hackathons and competitions] – Some evidence and activities 🟑
  • Are there programs to support, guide and scale startups? – Inadequate evidence and activities πŸ”΄

Private sector

  • Does the private sector provide services and support to developing businesses? – Some evidence and activities 🟑
  • Are there efforts from the private sector to ensure that needed skills are available? – Some evidence and activities 🟑
  • I would have put red on both. Shows just how little I know about what’s going on or maybe it shows that we had private sector people influence a yellow to make their sector look good.


  • Are universities providing an environment and community to inspire entrepreneurs? – Some evidence and activities 🟑 [Really?]
  • Are graduates coming out of universities with the skills needed by innovative businesses? – Some evidence and activities 🟑 [This was a huge red from me, judging from the conversations I have had with some entrepreneurs. However, how can you argue with people who are actually employing those graduates who are saying there is some evidence]

Public sector

  • Are there provisions or exemptions in the tax code to support entrepreneurship? – Inadequate evidence and activities πŸ”΄
  • Is public procurement supporting innovation without distorting markets? – Some evidence and activities 🟑 [Yellow?]

Do note that these are but a fraction of the stuff that was looked at. I chose the ones that I found intriguing and the ones that I was surprised to find myself disagreeing with others on.

So, that’s why it may look like I objected to most of the items. The opposite is actually true. There was consensus on many items. And Reds made up half of the answers, there were a couple of Oranges, many Yellows and no Greens.

I can’t wait to hear what you guys think of this. Please do share in the comments section.

Day 3 will be solution day. The group shall brainstorm solutions and with some of the actual people responsible and capable of implementing said solutions, I have hopes that it will be a productive day. We will update you on how it goes.

Also read:

Potraz and the UN’s ITU hosting a co-creation workshop to assess how Zim can promote innovation



  1. Anonymous

    The current curriculum in most of our state owned tertiary institutions equips these graduates with knowledge and skills to be good employees not innovators yes kune ma hub etc but truth is only a few of our graduates break out with major solutions to the many problems in the country,some just opt to export their knowledge and labour just because it wont make sense to earn peanuts after making considerable investments ( in a dilapidated economy)in their education,the conditions in the country dont necessarily kindle innovation too because funding irikuiswa tuyellow utwo inongozikanwa ne a few people,typical example remember that guy who built a prototype ye helicopter?imagine if he got adequate funding engineering dzake dzaidai dzaanext level,ngavazotiudzewo kunoitwa maworkshops awo tigoindawo

  2. Mohammad Kamran

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    1. Cyrx

      As a technoprenuer i feel that less is being done to promote ICTs to such an extent that other sectors that directly or indirectly (e.g. Education, Health, Trade & Commerce) depend on a thriving ICT sector are fast deteriorating. Support for ICT start-ups is available but only on paper. We hear bank G has unveiled a fund to help start-ups but when you seek those funds they are either given to people doing next to nothing or the funding would not have been available in the first place. Incubation hubs and accelerator networks are not even there which is inhibiting progress. I hope the PORTRAZ/ITU event is not just another event to give us false hope.

  3. Isaac

    πŸ˜„ ko hamusi kutiudzawo kuti we can now edit our WhatsApp messages

    1. Fanny

      Apa uri kureva ku editor kupi

    2. Isaac

      Kuchinja message yaunenge wasenda

      1. Fanny

        What is the name of what’s app u use

  4. Imi Vanhu Musadaro

    Sadly, when the headmaster surveys if there are any problems learners have with their class teachers, they immediately exclude themselves from assessment, whilst providing an illusion of openness.

    A genuine assessment would also include the regulatory frameworks (and regulators), the bureaucracy of establishment (even with respect to non IT ministries).

    If we keep pretending these aren’t obstacles to innovation, we can meet till the end of time, run hackathons till our fingers fall off and become expects in mediocre change, wondering why this innovation is so elusive.

    1. Imi Vanhu Musadaro

      *experts in mediocre change

  5. Fanny

    Are graduates coming out of universities with the skills needed by innovative businesses? – Some evidence and activities 🟑 [This was a huge red from me,

    Why do u say it was a huge red for u, coz ini I think kuti graduates are coming out of universities with the skills needed by innovative businesses but vanoshaya those innovative businesses or opportunities to work in innovative business.

    so it should be a yellow there, that what I think.

    1. S, K

      Let’s maybe put it at orange. It’s rather controversial.

      Rightly, if the question is on whether graduates are coming out with those skills, the answer should be a doubtful yes. Indeed there are several graduates [not a majority] who are coming out with the skills needed by innovative businesses. For example, I have seen this first hand, many in my class at college, lack critical thinking skills to come up with a compelling dissertation. Thus, it begs the question if the majority of graduates do not graduate with the skills, how are few “skilled” ones attaining their skills? Maybe they are just extra brilliant or are taking extra courses.

      Brings us to the next question, if the original question on whether graduates are equipped with the skills, is an attempt at inferring whether institutions of graduate education are effectively equipping graduates with the skills needed by innovative businesses. If that’s the case then its a emphatic no.

      1. Imi Vanhu Musadaro

        Dissertation and innovation are very different. You can come up with a very good dissertation idea only to be told someone did a slightly similar one 2 decades ago, so you can’t do it. Innovation doesn’t follow those silly rules. Innovations can pivot, you can start wanting to build one thing and end up with another product/application. Dissertation is rigid, if you say you are doing X then, half way through, you decide to change it’s at your own peril. And, a dissertation has to be done, if very specific constraints on top of that. Despite your forward thinking it is unreasonable to come to you say come up with usable innovation this year, and even if the market likes your innovation a panel of 4 people will decide if it’s worthy.

        1. S K

          You are not getting the point, are you? [I can sense a bit of some strawmaning there]. My point was emphasising, how many graduates may be precocious as far as honing critical thinking skills is concerned. Mind you, innovation in its very substance, incorporates a certain set of cognitive skills such as critical thinking and horizontal thinking.

          And, yes of course, writing a dissertation and innovation are two different things. The dissertation is rather rigid with it’s prescriptive rules and doesn’t always necessarily foster innovation. But I am sure of is that, writing a compelling dissertation the proper way requires a measure of critical thinking too.

          Indeed there are outstanding students who come up with amazing dissertations only to be shot down by an academic panel. But how many are the the students who come up with such interesting dissertation, whether thay are approved or not? What is their proportion in relation to other students?

          It seems that both the instructors and the students have conspired and agreed that half-baked and “uncritical” writings can actually be termed a dissertation.

          In that vein, my argument was that if graduates are not able apply their critical thinking faculty to something which should be structured, how will they fare on applying critical thinking to come up with innovative solutions in the rather chaotic real world?

          The point which I was arguing for is that institute of graduate education seems to be doing little to equip their products with the skills that are needed for innovation.

  6. Fanny

    We won’t be able to go through every matter but here’s what the group agreed was the case:

    As l always say Mr Sengere half of a loaf is better than nothing.

    1. Fanny

      Remember tsumo iya ini yatsika dope yamwa ndopatino i applier ipapa.

      1. Fanny

        inoti, asi dai ma phone achitombotanga ati are u sure u want to send ndozobaya okay coz yangu ichandisungirira chete🀣🀣

  7. Fanny

    Can’t wait for the solutions they say 🀣🀣🀣

  8. Ches

    I believe the school systems that lie around the world only teach to be employees and never to be employees hence I believe those that are innovators aren’t those that are really bright in school or in a subject matter Idealists are not those that acquire straight As hence I say innovations can’t be taught in schools whatsoever.You can be taught how to program but never to develop something unique.I think if there are enough funding societies set up that overlook level of education but the general idea or the uniqueness of the product our country can go far.

  9. Ches

    ** never to be employees**