The power of imagination

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Many startup founders have reached out to Tech Hub enquiring on what they should do to start their business or move to the next level. This week we had a meeting with founder who is building a platform aimed at a niche.

They have traction already having signed up 500 customers. In deciding what topic to cover this week with all that’s happening in our economy it would have been easier to focus on the negative stuff, the fuel price hike and the rise in the general cost of living among other negatives.

As an entrepreneur you will do well if you can push off negative thoughts. Yes the price of fuel has gone up and will affect the way you do business. If you focus on this fact, what is it going to change? Nothing! So why waste your time focussing on things you have no control over. You have control over what your business can do to cut fuel use, or how you can reach your customers online or via an app.

Turning back to the entrepreneur we met this week, we were impressed by their idea which we can’t go into for confidentiality reasons. It is great to see young people innovating and creating new business models and replacing the old way of doing business. How did they think of such an idea surrounded by so much negativity? This is a good question which is worth spending sometime answering. Having positive thoughts in a hopeless situation, surrounded by negative reports, social media posts and friends or family is next to impossible, yet many people are able to shut it all out and build successful ventures. Did you buy bread today? Or Milk or a Coke, how come the makers of these products can supply the supermarket you bought from day in day out 365 days a year?

What allows others in the same difficult environment to build successful ventures? Its imagination and selfbelief. Borrowing from Albert Einstein “Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited, whereas imagination embraces the entire world, stimulating progress, giving birth to evolution.” So don’t stop imagining.

Some interesting services are being rolled out by traditional kombi operators like Pamushana Transport Africa @ pamafricagroup who indicated that they are introducing a Tap and Go payment system for all their vehicles most of which are plying the Warren Park / Town route. Such services are transforming the commuting experience while solving problems of revenue assurance for the transport operator.

Equally impressive is a WhatsApp Sticker App to attach stickers to your regular WhatsApp message thereby enhancing it. The service is embedded in an app created by Ed Tatenda Chitambo @ edychitambo and was created two months ago. It has been downloaded by over 60 000 users on the google play store and has over 15 000 active daily users from all over the world. Using local content the creator has designed stickers that most Zimbabweans dotted across the globe can relate to hence the success of the app.

The point we are trying to make is with the right kind of imagination success is possible. The economy may be struggling but the environment is ripe for disruptive innovation. Learning from services such as Uber, Air BnB among others there is a lot that entrepreneurs in Zimbabwe can do.

Take for example the Electronic World Trade Platform (eWTP): a private sector-led and multistakeholder initiative, for public-private dialogue to incubate eTrade rules and foster a more effective and efficient policy and business environment for cross border electronic trade (including both B2B and B2C) development, in which Alibaba is a key driver. These services can bring to the world new ways of doing business and can expose participating African countries to new markets.

Knowledge is a key driver of such initiatives and Zimbabwean innovators will do well to spend time researching and learning about how we can take advantage of the connectedness of the world. We have the capacity to transform our economy by adopting new technologies and approaching our problems and challenges with technology solutions.

What services would you like to see being introduced using similar technologies? We want to hear from you.