Seven of the fourteen Zimbabwean youth entrepreneurs who attended the Global Entrepreneurship Summit (GES) in Nairobi, Kenya recently shared their experiences at a public forum emphasizing the need for continued peer collaboration among Zimbabwean entrepreneurs to create a viable entrepreneurial ecosystem in the country. Over all the participants came away from the Nairobi summit with President Obama with renewed inspiration and full of ideas to share with their fellow countrymen and women.
The seven- Tawanda Chikosi of Chikosi Technology Corporation, Tafadzwa Makura, founder of Mazwi and Emaji Water, Constantine Nyanzero of Hyper cube Hub and Emerging Ideas, Rinesh Desai of the Hypercube Hub, Takunda Chingozo, co-founder of Saisai Wireless and NeoLabs, Nomvula Mhambi of Disruptive Innovations, and Bernard Juru of Muzinda Hub- addressed a Food for Thought panel discussion at the United States Embassy’s Public Affairs Section on Tuesday. They concurred that lack of collaboration among Zim entrepreneurs remained a key hindrance to developing a viable entrepreneurial ecosystem in Zimbabwe.
“As young start-ups we always think our ideas are so unique that we cannot share with the next person,” said Mhambi of Disruptive Innovations, “The result is that you end up committing so many mistakes that you could have avoided by simply sharing with someone, ” she added. Mhambi, a Mandela Washington Fellow 2014 Alumnus who has done extensive work in youth entrepreneurship and employment in Southern Africa through her work with Youth Alliance for Leadership and Development in Africa said the GES taught her that “you cannot attract an investor without sharing your idea. And you cannot improve on your idea without sharing it.”
Another participant, Chingonzo, said young entrepreneurs do not collaboratively speak as one voice to the government. He called on entrepreneurs to work together and seek proactive collaboration with the government. He challenged Zimbabwe entrepreneurs to focus on African markets, not just Zimbabwean markets.
Chikosi also challenged Zimbabweans to seek and offer entrepreneurship mentorship to ensure a business excellence standard. “If we manage to get to a point where we are the most literate country in Africa, why can’t we also be the most entrepreneurial country within the continent?” argued Chikosi who is currently mentoring high school students through his initiative, the Chikosi Foundation. Chikosi’s Highfield 1 High class of mentees received second place in the recent Junior Achievement Zimbabwe (JAZ) 2015 competition- the school’s first such success in 10 years. Desai of the Hypercube Hub says the Kenyan model is inspirational because direct government support for tech hubs has had a phenomenal impact in Nairobi and it wasn’t too long ago (7 years) that Kenya’s economy looked a lot more like Zimbabwe’s does currently. Desai acknowledged the need to build a self-supporting ecosystem that is run by young people, for young people, in Zimbabwe – then in turn, turn the heads of government and others.
The 2015 GES held in Sub Saharan Africa for the first time, took place in Kenya on July 24-26, and was the sixth annual gathering of entrepreneurs at all stages of business development. Business leaders, mentors and high level government officials showcased innovative projects, exchanged new ideas to help spur economic opportunity. It was attended by over 1100 delegates from 120 countries, including 20 members of the US Congress, 200 seasoned investors and entrepreneurs, which include: Sir Richard Branson (Virgin Group), Ashish Thakkar (Mara Group) and Strive Masiyiwa (Econet Wireless).
According to Forbes Magazine, there is an entrepreneurial boom in Africa; a growing number of Africans are building innovative technologies and businesses that are solving critical socio-economic problems. After Kenya, South Africa, and Nigeria, Zimbabwe received the most invitations to attend the summit and was featured on the GES website through the recent inspiring Innovation Baraza. It seems that Zimbabwean entrepreneurs are turning heads not just in Africa. – ZimPAS © August 19, 2015