Zimbabwe’s Small but Expanding Tech for Social Change Scene

Billion Dollar Investment (3)Zimbabwe’s tech scene is still very much in its infancy, partly inhibited by lack of support for entrepreneurs and most citizens needing to prioritise more immediate income generation.  However, there is huge potential in this space with a highly educated population and some extremely enthusiastic individuals who are driving things forward.

The Indigo Trust has recently made its first grant in Zimbabwe.  We funded Veritas to work in partnership with Pledge 51 to develop a mobile application of the new draft Zimbabwe Constitution.  Our former grantee Pledge 51 has developed mobile applications for the Nigerian Constitution and the App has been downloaded more than 530, 000 times!

Veritas are a parliamentary monitoring organisation which track all new legislation in development, summarise and analyse the data.  They publish some parliamentary proceedings, notices of parliamentary committees and key statutory information.  They also summarise budget estimates and plan to publish all MP and Ministerial data on their websites.  They also sometimes stimulate moderated discussions around issues including peace and democracy.  Their bulletins go out to their 4000 direct subscribers and are posted on Zimbabwe Situation – which has reached over a million readers.

Billion Dollar Investment (1)We’re also extremely interested in contributing towards the establishment of a tech innovation hub in Harare.  I was able to meet with some fantastic techies whilst I was out there who may be involved in the process.  These include the founder of I Paid a Bribe Zimbabwe, Nigel Mugamu who uses Twitter (#263Chat) to encourage Zimbabweans to think differently around solving social challenges and Sam Dzino, who is Zimbabwe’s Mxit partner and who is working closely with Marlon Parker to replicate some of his RLab’s approaches to stimulating tech innovation.

Limbikani Jump Start (3)I was also able to meet with Limbikani Makani who has established one of Zimbabwe’s leading tech blogs Tech Zim.  He’s organised successful Bar Camps and has established JumpStart, a not-for-profit which supports entrepreneurs through events, mentorship and training. They focus on commercial businesses which are financially viable.

The Indigo Trust is currently in discussions with The British Council, Alpha Media Holdings, The US Embassy in Zimbabwe and Google to explore how best to approach establishing a tech hub in Harare.  We’re actively seeking out techies with business skills and the ability to mobilise the tech community to get involved so please do get in touch if this includes you.