#ZimStartUp: Linking African University Students With ‘Common Ground’


MANY Zimbabweans fly abroad for their tertiary education so as to enhance their chances for better employment opportunities. Some in affluent families get their education overseas while those from unfortunate backgrounds are fortunate enough to get scholarships get a rare chance of education there.

Imagine the insomnia of getting to track down those whom you left in Africa on how they are ferrying well academically. It is also difficult to come up with a thesis topic for everyone. Worse still if one needs to come up with one which suits their home country.

Students abroad always want to be kept appraised of trending research topics in their home areas, employment opportunities.The adage sharing is caring was the main ingredient to the formation of this mobile application called Common Ground as students will be giving one another academic ideas.

The startup won the Best Learner Start up thus getting a chance to pitch in Mozambique for the Seedstars Africa Summit penciled for December 14.

The idea to form Common Ground was birthed by a Zimbabwean student Nyasha Chidzero and Rwandan Jackie Bagwiza who graduated at McGill University in Montreal,Canada in a library.

“So common ground all started out two years ago in my final year at university. I studied in Canada and one day I was sitting I the library with my colleague Jackie, my classmate discussing a lot of things like home.

Common ground is a mobile app that allows African students on campuses across the world to collaborate with each other on projects ideas, opportunities and information.

These patriotic-cum-homesick African duo of Nyasha and Jackie had to return to their home countries to brainstorm further on what Common Ground would entail and hit the ground running.

“So initially it was a lot of thinking and also initially Jacky and I both of us are people with no tech skills. So, we only really funded a programming team from November 2016 once I had graduated and come back to Zimbabwe,” said Chidzero.

A year has passed on with the application running which saw Chidzero and her team launch their beta phase.
“We have been running common ground for about a year.

“But the app only launched as a beta test in June this year and so far, we’ve been bootstrapping.We’ve been putting our own money in the central building of the app.

“So now we are looking into expanding. We are looking for $80 000 to help us especially in the early marketing and speeding up the development of the app.
“At the moment our beta test community is a closed one because we need to have direct contact with the people we are beta testing with for feedback. So, we’ve got just over 50 people beta testing the app and then also we have a big community on Facebook and Twitter,” added Chidzero.

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