The culmination of a successful STEM program in Zimbabwe will see the creation of many technology companies, creating jobs and rebuilding Zimbabwe’s dying economy, maybe spawn a billionaire or two. But of the many start ups to have been bred out of this country, little success has been achieved with many failings recorded to date, and some, dying even before they are presented to the world.
The technology sector has offered a lot of opportunities to people and businesses around the world with some of the world’s richest people coming from this sector. Zimbabwe’s richest man, Strive Masiyiwa is also from this sector, highlighting just how powerful this sector is but despite the promises the technology sector presents to the world, Zimbabwe is yet to fully capitalise on it.
By Pearson Mbendera
Taking our economic hardships aside, Zimbabwe isn’t the best place to start a business. The start up ecosystem, or rather the business ecosystem as a whole isn’t so vibrant and doesn’t really work well to sustain the economy in all its facets, be it job creation, business opportunity generation and tax.
But for Zimbabwe to create a conducive environment for start ups, there are a few things that need to be put in place.
We need Start Up Accelerators
Start up accelerators are programs that support early stage, growth-driven companies through education, mentorship and financing. Start ups enter accelerators for a fixed-period of time, and as part of a cohort of companies.
With programs like Simba Savanna and Econet’s Elevate helping youths with their business ideas and financing, giving hope to the budding entrepreneurs and creating quite a support unit need in the start up ecosystem. But they are not enough, there is need for more.
Given that more of the people starting up businesses don’t have experience of managing businesses, some having not worked a single day in their lives, simply throwing money at them won’t do any good as many won’t even know how to navigate the business world.
Be open to new ideas
The old way of doing things no longer holds especially in the technology sector that has seen a lot of innovation that has changed the world, and the only way for the sector to completely take shape is if new ideas are accepted, even encouraged as they are the key to unlocking a lot of potential hidden inside the people of Zimbabwe.
Heavily laden with a lot of problems, solutions-centered technologies can help mitigate those problems and they have a better chance of being well accepted in Zimbabwe. Technology is supposed to be the answer to the people’s problems, thus, if there is a problem, technology should find a solution, its that simple.
But many people simply want to create imitations of popular technologies out there and expect people to take the cheap imitations over the originals that offer a whole lot more than the imitations.
I cannot stress this enough, there is need for Zimbabweans to support one another. While there are a lot of people who dream of starting businesses, they do not necessarily give the support to others that they will want to receive in return. A lot of businesses have failed because there was
The consumption of local products is key to creating a vibrant start up ecosystem. No business just being formed can conquer the world before conquering its own home first, after all, charity begins at home.
In China, they are more receptive of their own products and services, even preferring them to other international brands and products. This has also spawned quite a successful me-too approach where by Chinese companies create imitations and consume those imitations over the originals.
This is the work of everyone, not just the few. It requires the coming together of every Zimbabwean, young and old, rich and poor, manufacturer and consumer, business owner and regulator, so that a good, conducive playing field is created for start ups to flourish and prosper.