2019: Year of innovation, experimentation

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As is customary at the end of each year it’s important to review work down during the past year and look ahead into the future. Tech Hub Harare opened a coworking space targeted at helping early stage start-up founders grow.

First we would like to thank the Business Times for giving us a chance to share our start-up stories and events. Without them few people would have benefitted from this column or attended our events. The weekly column has become a popular section with readers as it covers anything from start-up news to tips and advice on how to start a venture and grow. The feedback received throughout the year 2018 was wonderful and was put to good use. It helped us focus our attention on addressing some of the biggest challenges facing first time entrepreneurs in the country. Aside from the lack of capital many start-up founders are struggling to find good mentors and access to materials to help them scale their ventures fast.

Recognising this problem we launched an App available for download on Google Play store called “Mytechhub”. The app allows start-up founders to register their profiles and get connected to mentors, resources, networking events throughout Zimbabwe and the world. It also exposes startups to investors and customers by giving them turn by turn directions to registered startups.

The country is now connected to the world via many channels and more than ever it is now very easy to connect with anyone and learn from their experiences. What is not easy however is to find the best people to connect with! This is where communities such as ours come in. We are helping start-ups connect to value adding resources and mentors. In 2018 we held 3 networking events dubbed the “Meet and Greet” series, where those 2019: Year of innovation, experimentation who attended listened to advice from real successful entrepreneurs. The interactive sessions usually lasted for 2.30 hours with people engaging with each other and sharing their experiences. We will be having more of these throughout the year in 2019, starting with one on the 18th of January 2019.

Turning to the opportunities in 2019, the country remains gripped by a few challenges innovators should solve. The fuel challenges facing the country, doctors and nurses challenges are clear breeding ground for innovations that can transform these industries that are clearly in need of disruption. Taking a leaf from the popular Uber service or the Air BnB services that have continued to grow from strength to strength and are expanding at rapid pace throughout the world, Zimbabwe needs home grown solutions to solve everyday problems using technology that is within most people’s reach as we speak.

Less than 10 years ago these services were non-existent but look at the impact they are having on how we live our lives and decide how to commute and book hotels. Closer to home, ride sharing, food delivery services are sprouting all over the place and this is a good thing by the way.

What do we see happening in 2019 and beyond in Zimbabwe? The use of smart devices is increasing by the day as these devices become more and more accessible. This means that in 2019 we are going to see an even higher adoption of apps that will replace some of the ways we currently use to conduct business. Let us look at some of the areas where we will see further disruption.

Market Place Development

More and more people are realising that going to a brick and motor stores when you can actually order online and wait for delivery is much better especially with the mainstreaming of deliveries through ride sharing apps that are sprouting every day. More importantly this space has attracted big names with big advertising budgets. Anyone who didn’t know how these market places work is learning everyday about the convenience of such applications. Very soon everyone will know and the real magic will begin.

E-government

Towards the end of 2018 exciting developments started to happen and we believe we will see increased pace in 2019 as government departments start to adopt and adjust the systems being introduced. This is inevitable! On the consumer education side we advise the Ministry of ICT to step in and push hard through main stream media the message that e-government is the way to go and will save users time and money.

SME digital Social media platforms

There is a noticeable trend in the use of digital social media platforms by SMEs. In 2019 we will see more SMEs adopting social media in their drive towards brand equity and presence, as it becomes more expensive to access traditional media due to high costs. We also see a rise in the number of Start-ups offering these services to SMEs across the country, thanks to free digital programmes being pushed across the internet by Google, that have raised the number of skilled people starting up in this field.

More people to try their hand at Computer programming

This trend was already catching on in 2018. In 2019 we will see a sharp rise in the number of people enrolling onto computer programming classes throughout the country.

This is because not have these skills will disadvantage professionals as companies are adopting new technologies that are being used to augment existing skills and capabilities in almost every industry through Data Science, Machine Learning and Artificial intelligence.

There are a lot of trends we are seeing in 2019, but we can’t name them all! What we can say is Tech Hub is looking forward to an exciting year of innovation and experimentation. We are looking forward to more engagement and participation in the country’s young but growing start-up ecosystem.