Zimbabwe and regional technology news and updates

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30 Apps4Africa 2012 finalists announced

Appfrica, the organisers of the Apps4Africa challenge announced today the list of 30 startups on the continent that have made into the funding and mentorship competition’s finals. Out of the 30, the top 3 will be selected for the finals prize of $10,000 each, ongoing mentorship from Appfrica and according to the announcement, opportunities for further funding. The winners will be announced in the coming weeks.

Startup talk: A knack for potential

A lot of startups simply stuck their heads into the sand and launched e-commerce sites with a credit card based checkout and no wonder they failed. Whilst at it, it needs to be mentioned that people hate writing cheques and banks hate issuing cheque books even more. seems to have mastered the art of doing e-commerce in Zimbabwe: it includes Ecocash in its checkout options something most startups need to start doing in addition to adopting and adhering to local customs. Why is there no Miss Zimbabwe app so you can vote for your favorite lady? Why is Ubuntu Shonastill failing?

Startup talk: the value of a brand

Although it might not be apparent at first, one of the most common reasons why startups fail is because of the inability by the founders to create a recognisable, respected and indispensable brand-a cult brand. A brand is a “name, term, design, symbol, or any other feature that identifies one seller’s good or service as distinct from those of other sellers.” Examples of popular brands include Microsoft Word, Windows, PlayStation, ZESA, PowerTel, ZOL, Yo!Africa, Econet, NetOne, Telecel, TelOne and Coca Cola.

FootballZone releases its first football app: AFCON 2013

Local Football updates startup, FootballZone, has announced the launch of its Afcon mobile app that went live in the Nokia Ovi Store last week. According to FootballZone cofounder, Godwin Chiparaushe, soccer fans in Africa will be able to follow the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations on their phones via the app.

About Yookos, its SMS adverts, and its place in the social networking space (interview)

Trying Yookos hasn’t been easy and I would’ve just given up had I not been on a blogging mission. See, when you sign up it says the verification email’s been sent to your mailbox, but doesn’t actually send it until you attempt to login with the unverified account and instruct it to send the email. That was my experience at least; 5 times I tried with 3 different emails.

Zimbo Jam finally comes back online. Her Zimbabwe still down

We are noticing that the Zimbo Jam website, which has been offline for close to 2 weeks to recover from the defacement incident, came back online today. The website is Zimbabwe’s most popular entertainment blog (blogazine if you want) and one of high profile local websites to be hit in recent weeks.

Lendme kills Airtime and Mula service, Pivots to being micro-credit SaaS platform

Micro-credit and airtime credit startup, Lendme, announced yesterday the discontinuation of its LendmeMula and LendmeAirtime services with immediate effect. The company says they are killing the two services to focus on building a micro-credit Software as a Service platform for micro-finance institutions (MFIs).

2012 roundup: The year in review

The year kicked off with one of the largest ISPs in Zimbabwe ZOL, announcing that it had been acquired by Liquid Telecom, a move which resulted in the Econet Wireless Group cementing its position as Zimbabwe’s largest telecoms firm.

biNu adds EcoCash to its credits payment options

In a story title “More problems for regular SMS: biNu credits now available locally” that we posted here a few weeks ago, we expressed our delight that biNu credits were now available locally. The Australian based company (which now has representatives locally) had just announced that its 200,000 Zimbabwean users could now buy its platform’s currency at Easi and YoTime

Is starting a tech startup just too costly for us?

I usually argue on the side of “lack of funding is just an excuse”. If you work hard enough, if you’re solving a real problem, if you’re passionate enough, if you think outside the box etc… But sometimes I wonder if the problem is lack of funding, or if it’s more an issue of young people having so much more to lose if they decide to take the startup route and its high risks. More to lose compared to their counterparts in, say, Europe, the US or Cape Town.

Our Christmas give-away to Zimbabwean startups: 1 month free advertising

For a while now we’ve been thinking about how we can provide some startup friendly advertising opportunities on Techzim. We get roughly an average of 6,000 page views a day and we know that could help a Zimbabwean mobile or web startup company get word out there about their great new service. But we also have to pay bills here so we can’t exactly invite startups to free advertising party.

#263Chat: Tweets on tech and tech entrepreneurship in Zimbabwe

Earlier this week I was guest on the weekly #263Chat discussion hosted by Nigel Mugamu where the discussion was centered on tech in Zimbabwe; the state of, the challenges, possible solutions, opportunities, funding for entrepreneurs and other issues. #263Chat is a really interesting way to have a realtime virtual gathering and discuss important common issues. If you’re not on Twitter yet, this is a good reason to try it.

Jumpstart event: Panel discussion on tech entrepreneurship

One of main objectives when we founded the Jumpstart initiative earlier this year was to “connect startup ICT entrepreneurs to mentors that can guide them on building successful businesses.” We are therefore happy to announce that next week, we’re will host an event to that realises that specific objective of mentorship. On the evening of Thursday, 6 December 2012, we will have 4 entrepreneurs and technical executives from some of the largest companies locally as panellists in a discussion on tech entrepreneurship challenges faced locally and strategies to overcome them.

Vpayments may not be for everyone

When mobile payments were introduced in Zimbabwe, I thought here is the chance for me to sell my book to Zimbabweans who do not have Visa cards, MasterCards etc. I made my first call to Big Bank in November of 2011 and asked them about accepting payments via their mobile money transfer solution. I was told it was Ok.

Why most Zimbabwean start-ups AREN’T failing. That is the question.

Yes, that’s right. You didn’t miss anything. Zimbabwean startups ARE NOT failing. They aren’t failing enough. That’s because they are not many start-ups in the first place. The better question to ask is: Why there are not a lot of Zimbabwean start-ups.

List of Zimbabwean web start-ups formed in the last 4 years

This is a follow-up article to my post Why most Zimbabwean Start-ups fail. After reading some of the comments and discussions, I felt the need to share with everyone the list of Start-ups I compiled during my research for the first article. Below is the list, I hope it will help you in whatever way you want.

Why most Zimbabwean start-ups fail

Building a successful Start-up is every entrepreneur’s dream, but recent world statistics show only 1 in 12 succeeds. Why do start-ups fail? Why are Zimbabwean start-ups failing? Why are all those brilliant ideas going down the drain?

Announcing Zimbabwe’s first ePayments Forum

Convenient payment options are a critical and often cited sticking point for commercial and economic development. Numerous discussions have taken place around the need for increased electronic payment methods as a means to overcome time, socio-economic, and logistical constraints amongst others.

Urine powered generator developed by Nigerian girls

Four girls from Nigeria showcased a urine powered generator system they developed at the Maker Faire Africa just held in Lagos.

Easi simplifies prepaid electronic vending

You’ve probably seen the Easi logo on the right in a number of retail outlets in the country. The company has entered the market to provide a South African designed solution to simplify the electronic vending of prepaid products. So far Easi has signed up all mobile network operators in Zimbabwe, internet providers like Broadacom and Africom, […]

Apps4Africa 2012 Zimbabwe brainstorming session tomorrow

As you’ve probably seen in our events calendar, Apps4Africa 2012 is here. Like the previous one, the sub-Saharan funding competition challenge is split into three regional competitions for East Africa, West & Central Africa, and the Southern Africa region which Zimbabwe falls under. Unlike the 2011 edition though, the competition is not about coming up with three […]

University student develops EcoCash internet payments proof of concept

One of the things that came out of the EcoCash tour that we were part of recently was that internet payments are not near the top of their priority list in terms of the roll out of payments. Understandably so actually; there are bigger, immediate and bankable needs to address away from the web. Needless […]

biNu Social is here, a lightning fast mobile social network

In August, after biNu’s much reported $2 million Series A funding round, we noted that the emerging markets “Smartphone in the cloud” service seemed to be morphing itself into a mobile social network. It became apparent later that this indeed was the case. Now it’s not just a gradual background morph; biNu Social is here. […]

The problem with grant and challenge funded entrepreneurship

Today I read an article that noted something we discuss often with colleagues here. It’s also an issue that I find a lot of people strongly disagree with; the issue around donors awarding money to young entrepreneurs for the impact prospects of the startups’ businesses. Even with limited knowledge of the Kenya tech company ecosystem, […]

Presentation: Building a vibrant ICT Industry in Zimbabwe

After posting an article two days ago about presentations made at the ongoing eTech Africa event in Harare, readers asked us to publish a video of Mkhululi Ndlovu’s presentation about Building a vibrant ICT industry in Zimbabwe. We don’t have a video but we managed to get the full presentation document and we have an audio recording to […]

Mobile services startup AppleVine introduces new DStv payment method

MultiChoice’s DStv is probably the most popular pay TV service in sub-Saharan Africa but subscription payment is not as convenient as most people would like. In Zimbabwe, it used to be that to make payment you had to do it at one specific bank; one called Interfin. Then, later, MultiChoice added more banks to their DStv […]

DEMO Africa announces shortlist of 40 tech startups

In less than a month the first DEMO Africa tech startups event will take place in Nairobi, Kenya. In preparation for the event, the organisers have released a shortlist of 40 startups from different countries in Sub-Saharan Africa to launch at DEMO Africa next month. “This has been a very enriching exercise seeing the kind […]

Telecel Zimbabwe accused of stealing VAS concept

Just yesterday we published an article in which we wrote that Econet wireless had launched a value added service (VAS) promotion that is in many ways very similar to a promo Telecel launched just two weeks ago.  It’s an SMS based QnA service where the provider sends questions to subscribers and the subscribers get points […]

Have an innovative idea in science, technology & business? read this

Recently we were pointed to an innovation challenge that we think is a great opportunities if you’re an innovator and in need for both exposure and some investment. The challenge was announced in July but thankfully, if you’re reading this now, you still have more than 5 weeks to participate; the deadline for submission is […]

LendmeMula introduces ZimSwitch enabled MulaConnect card

One of the issues with the LendmeMula micro-credit service that we have covered here before, is that so far borrowers have had to wait for up to 24 hours before they could access the borrowed money in their bank accounts. The money had to be transferred by Lendme to their bank accounts. This made the […]