LACK of venture capital and funding remains a major bottleneck for emerging local technology startups whose efforts to grow have largely been hitting a brick-wall.
By Kudakwashe Pembere
Internet Service Provider Dandemutande chief executive Nhenha Nyagura in an interview after the SeedStars World Startup Competition held recently made a clarion call for local companies to invest in local startups.
“Its also an indictment on industry, we should be doing more to support some of the ideas especially when you look at the amounts that these guys are looking at raising, some are looking at getting $100 000 to $300 000. That is a capacity we can source locally. No need to wait for these international initiatives to come and support,” he said.
At the SeedStars competition, some innovators presented their price tags and amounts required for their projects to flourish.
“This project needs $800 000 to realise its full potential,” noted Chiedza Kambasha of Ignite Africa at the SeedStars World StartUp. Competition.
Another added, “We need about $350 000 to buy the items needed to assemble this gadget.”
In the meantime, local innovators anxiously wait the much heralded Government’s ICT Innovation Fund valued at $25 million which is set to bail out innovators whose efforts are being hamstrung by lack of financing.
“A lot of young people have solutions that can make Zimbabwe better because they don’t have support or funding for inventory, marketing, office space, salaries etc, their ideas die.This robs the nation of great solutions and I have seen many great entrepreneurs moving out of the country for green pastures elsewhere.
“That’s how bad it can get.I however advise startups to raise their money on their own though its difficult. Before you offer a product, start a service that people pay for and reinvest the revenues you get” said Karim Tapiwa Subeli, CEO and Founder of Karims Technologies.
Apart from Government, there are some private and public partnerships that have been forged to support these start ups. Further, one of Zimbabwe’s leading fuel retailer Total splashed $35 000 to emerging startups which saw 10 walk away with the cool prize money.
A startup hub Innovation Baraza five months ago partnered with Old Mutual and TelOne to source funding for these youngsters,
“Four months ago, we partnered with Old Mutual and TelOne to set up a co-working space that is powering innovation and entrepreneurship in Harare and we hope that Potraz and other partners takes this partnership to the rest of the country,” said Constantine Nyanzero at the ZIM ICT Innovations Harare Pitch Night.