After the Ministry of ICT, Postal and Courier Service and the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory of Zimbabwe (POTRAZ) invited ICT Innovators, Startups and Entrepreneurs to apply for Funding, it turns out these are coming in the form of loans and or grants, under the Innovation Project.
Thousands around the nation are excited by the recent announcement by POTRAZ, to fund ICT projects, a drive seen by many as a capacitating move to empower young players to drive their ideas, prototypes or already running projects.
However many questions have arisen as to how one can apply, what kind of project/s qualifies and more importantly, what type of funding the government has unveiled.
It turned out this is not a grant, or “free money” as many had hoped, but rather a loan to capacitate and allow young entrepreneurs to get their ideas out there and drive them into real business models that are sustainable.
Potraz justified the move as the best to select deserving applicants who want to access seed funding to grow their business as the best way out. While also bringing a sense of responsibility into how their funds will be used, as there is a repayment model.
Here is more from the official document
Definition of ICT Innovation
Any ICT based product, service, business model, or process that is new to the market with a unique feature(s) that is successfully implemented to address a current need in a new /better way, or to satisfy a newly created demand when developed and deployed.
2.0 Who can apply?
Any ICT Innovators or start-ups that have brilliant ideas that have the potential to revolutionize its target market and/or drastically change the lives of Zimbabweans and the economy as a whole.
3.0 Application Process
Send a soft copy of the descriptive business plan, projections and budget required clearly indicated “Application for Innovation Project Funding “to: [email protected] for consideration.
4.0 Proposal Format
The business plan must be brief and concise. It is advisable to use the guidelines and format below in order to make sure that all the necessary information needed for assessment is available in the business plan:
i. Section A (Introduction)
this is one of the most important sections of your business plan. It enables evaluators to see how innovative your idea is
Give a description of the innovation or business start-up.
Clearly highlight the goals, objectives, functionality, benefits, and or value proposition of the innovation to Zimbabwe.
Brief description of the qualifications, expertise and capabilities of the team members
Ownership of the innovation and or company owning the innovation should be made clear and supporting documentation is required.
ii. Section B (Market Analysis)
Who are your target and current customers
Your target market, and how big the population of the market is
Simple SWOT analysis
At what stage is the innovation (development, testing or in service etc)
iii. Section C (Funding Request Section)
NB: This is the most important section, take time to write it properly as it determines how much funding you will receive. This section determines if you are eligible for funding or not.
How much funding is being applied for
What type of funding you are applying for, that is, whether it is a Loan or grant for and the proposed repayment method if any
Disclosure of previous funding received from other funding organisations
Detailed use of the funds being applied for
Either purchase of fixed assets,
used as working capital,
payment of salaries
Any other valid reason(s)
iv. Section D (Financial Section)
Revenue projections of the innovation for a minimum of 2 years
Historical financial data if the Company has been in operation
You can include Income Statements, Balance sheet, etc for already established businesses.
Explain how the new funding would improve your operations, in terms of revenue , cashflow and profitability.
How successful Innovators will be selected:
Once the first submission deadline (30 May 2017) is over the evaluation process will begin.
To qualify for semi-finals, you must be selected by the adjudication team.
The Adjudication team, consisting of internal POTRAZ and external experts, will evaluate and rate submissions.
Adjudicators will work with sector specific Experts e.g. agriculture, manufacturing, health, depending on the specific areas that the innovation focuses on, to further assess feasibility of the innovation, after which successful innovations will be selected and announced.
The Adjudication Team will evaluate the proposal submissions based on the following criteria:
Degree of innovation in comparison with solutions already developed and implemented
Impact of the innovation and potential of the proposed idea to make technological change/digital transformation.
Sustainability and scale to which the innovation can turn into a project that can be sustained and the potential that the innovation can be scaled up at a national level and beyond.
How global or local the innovation is; that is, does it solve a problem or improve a situation on a small or large scale?
Potential revenue or cost reduction for the customer or end user purchasing the innovation. The business case should verify these numbers.
How easy it is to develop and how fast it can go to market, explained in a constructive and concise manner.
How easy it is for the potential customers to deploy it, taking into account time, change of behaviour, money. The benefits of the innovation (user or efficiency). What impact does the innovation have?
Does the solution solve the problem in an innovative way?
Terms and Conditions
The decision of the Adjudication Team is final.
Participants must ensure that their Submissions comply with specifications of the definition of an ICT Innovation.
Attempting to influence decision making process will lead to disqualification.
Any Participant who does not submit their application by the given deadline will not be considered.
Current employees, apprentices, trainees, interns, officers or directors in the Ministry of ICT, Postal and Courier Services, POTRAZ and service providers in the Postal and Telecommunications Sector are not eligible to participate.
Participants must ensure that their innovation belongs to them and that it is not stolen from someone else or they will be asked to return the funding.
Canvasing will lead to disqualification of the project and Innovator.
All winners will be required to open a bank account with an identified financial institution for disbursement purposes.
Documents submitted after the deadline will not be accepted.
All successful Innovators will be required to attend capacity building training and will be assigned mentors (business, marketing, finance and technical) to ensure business success.
Fraudulent or negligently misrepresenting information will lead to immediate disqualification.
5.0 Loan Repayment conditions
Successful applicants will require a guarantor to secure the loan which will be offered on 36 month tenure.
Repayments will be done in line with cash flow projections through monthly instalments.
New projects will be granted 6 or 12 month grace periods to commence repayments.
is calling for submission of proposals from 10 May 2017, closing on 30 May 2017 to: [email protected]
To Join the Current Conversation, Join Our Public WhatsApp group on ICT Innovation Fund here.