Online innovation lives in Zimbabwe

June 19, 2013

Tawanda Kembo is a serial online entrepreneur. Ideas roll out of his mind onto the Internet quickly and seemingly effortlessly. His latest project is a website that lets Zimbabweans report when, where and to whom they have paid bribes.

It is simply titled “I Paid a Bribe”. The project is built upon the Kenyan-developed Ushahidi platform and is based on an Indian initiative of the same name. Kembo got the opportunity to present his project to members of Zimbabwe’s civil society at a social media Symposium organised by Hivos on March 26th and 27th, 2013.

He was one of a number of young Zimbabwean entrepreneurs and visionaries who spoke at the symposium about the social media landscape in the country and the possibilities presented by digital media for development work and entrepreneurship.

Other presenters included Fungai Machirori, founder of groundbreaking women’s portal HerZimbabwe, Nigel ‘Sir Nige’ Mugamu’, initiator of the 263 Chat discussion series which every Tuesday evening sees Zimbabweans all over the world discussing a selected topical issue over Twitter, Aura Kawanzaruwa of Nafuna TV, which uses cutting edge methods in its video production, and Fungai Tichawangana, founder of Zimbo Jam.

Kenyan representative at the forum, Nduko Matigere, spoke about the developments and innovations around digital media in his country.

Despite the obvious challenges that Zimbabwe has had in the recent past, culminating in an economic meltdown that saw millions of young people leave the country in search of better livelihoods, this symposium demonstrated that the spirit of entrepreneurship lives on.  A new generation is now spearheading the technological innovations that will help power the growth of the country.

Hivos supported the event along with the Norwegian Embassy to Zimbabwe under their ‘Culture Frame’ collaboration.

Stephen Matinanga, who is in charge of the Culture Frame at the Hivos Regional Office in Southern Africa, explained that in 2009 Hivos and the Norwegian Embassy realised the increasing role and importance of social media and other new information technologies in development work, and came together to support projects in this arena.

Under the Culture Frame, Hivos has initiated a series of events and capacity building activities around new information technology and social networking, which culminated in the social media symposium in March.

“Our aim for the symposium was to provide an interactive platform where Culture Frame partners could meet with the media, civic organizations, ICT practitioners and service providers to explore what each had to offer to the other. The objective was to explore ways of leveraging each other’s resources and expertise to strengthen civil society’s efforts to engage amongst themselves, and with public institutions in the national dialogue,” explained Matinanga.