1. wearetechzim:

A bit of coffee before heading to eTech Africa expo! See you there

    wearetechzim:

    A bit of coffee before heading to eTech Africa expo! See you there

     
  2. Our latest techzim podcast We discussed Econet Zero, Startup investment in Zimbabwe, DStv price increase, a DStv workaround and the warning from multichoice, and finally the eTech Africa expo

     
  3. Is starting a tech startup just too costly for us?

    Article appeared first on Techzim earlier this week.

    I usually argue on the side of “lack of funding is just an excuse”. If you work hard enough, if you’re solving a real problem, if you’re passionate enough, if you think outside the box etc… But sometimes I wonder if the problem is lack of funding, or if it’s more an issue of young people having so much more to lose if they decide to take the startup route and its high risks. More to lose compared to their counterparts in, say, Europe, the US or Cape Town.

    Is it that most young people have come very far to get to the relatively good jobs they have and that there’s so much extended family responsibility and expectation it becomes a really dicey issue venturing into the unknown?

    For a lot of young people, not only are they trying to start a company, but they’re also the bread winners for the the extended family. To generalize a bit, this is unlike their counterparts in the west whose parents usually own a decent home and their children can use the family garage to start a startup, or validate their ideas at least.

    It’s a system in which, if one blunders chasing an idea that comes to naught, it’s not just them that pay dearly for the failure. It’s their young brother in primary school for whom they pay tuition fees. It’s their parents as well who depend on the $200 he sends them every month. And even for the entrepreneur himself, that one failure could result in the city spitting him out into the midnight train back to the small town where opportunity space is even tighter. Are these realities what keep people grounded to the 8 to 5?

    Faced with this, one way to approach it  is to get a very good education, get a very good job and save enough money to take you (and the family) through, say, one and half years or startup uncertainty. The risk here often times is that it’s easy to get addicted to the 8 to 5 rewards especially if the company coats them with that all important company car to make you one of the first members of your extended family to ever own one. It’s an achievement a lot of friends and family will call you crazy for even thinking of leaving.

    The other option is to work on the startup as hard as one can at night and dutifully report for the regular job at day and execute so good you still get promoted to get some additional ‘disposable’ income. Leave days and off days (or too-sick-to-come-to-work days) become the precious opportunity to do the day stuff for the startup like physical meetings with prospective customers etc…

    There’s another group that has a different problem. It’s the unemployed group. For them the issue is actually that, even armed with a good education there are just no jobs to absorb them in the economy. Companies are closing down so the job market is shrinking. Starting their own venture becomes a means to survive as opposed to having dreams of making it big one day.

    But for this group, starting their own venture is still as difficult if not more; Still relying on their parents even for the $1 bus far into town, their prospects of owning their own computer, let alone a broadband connection, are distant.

    They may not even yet have a startup idea to work on that’s going to make them money. But access to resources is still important and access and access doesn’t come cheap. It is important that they get basic exposure to the tools they could use; a proper PC, a broadband connection and knowledge of development platforms and the possibilities. Of course the power to keep all these things on has clearly become a component that’s not a given as well. It’s a dull picture right? But maybe this is the picture we need to see and find solutions to before we proclaim that lack of funding is just an excuse.

    I guess this is why co-working spaces (you can call it a hub, innovation centre, or whatever else you prefer) have been great enablers on the African continent. I imagine they’d have the same effect in Zimbabwe. Of course the resultant benefits won’t be apparent immediately, but slowly they enable more people to access tools, knowledge, a community of similarly venture minded folks and, hopefully, people with money that are prepared to back great ideas & teams.

    Is starting a tech startup just too costly for us? How can we lower these barriers?

     
  4. Techzim, Google+, Hacker News and the old Google

    Sometime last week I posted this article on Techzim about why I don’t use Google+ much, and why I think the reason behind is something that discourages most other internet users in Africa. It’s basically a speed issue. Google+ as a news topic is that interesting an issue we got an avalanche of traffic from all over the world after I posted the article on Hacker News. The story actually made it to the top 5 news items on Hacker News. Techzim obviously couldn’t handle this sudden surge and the whole day we had to put up with “resource limit reached” errors from our hosting.

    For me, this points to one thing, people really wanted Google to succeed with Google+. I know I did. I still do. But more and more, I encounter cases where I see the old Google I loved, may really be gone.

     
  5. WhatsApp as a content sharing mobile social network

    So, a friend of mine and  guest blogger on Techzim, Jabulani Chirinda, has been over the past month or so arguing the case of WhatsApp as a social network to rival Facebook, Twitter and Google+ in the future.  I have been saying it won’t, but have founding his arguments for a mobile-only social network pretty convincing.

    See I don’t really use WhatsApp that much because I aIways had a disliking for texting. It’s really basically that my fingers are fat and have never really owned a mobile device that didn’t require me to painfully focus on the task of texting.

    So anyway, Jabu suggested something I found really interesting on Friday; to use WhatsApp as a content sharing platform the same we share Techzim links on Facebook, Twiiter and Google+. I said yes because it’s the first time I’m hearing such a suggestion and I’m getting this feeling there might really be something there. And a bonus is I’ll get a chance to test Chirinda’s mobile social networking arguments.

    So anyway, the problem is that WhatsApp has a limit of 15 members, at least that’s what this says. So how to get around this? Have people re-share with other groups? Have multiple groups with different contacts in them? Or maybe this can be limited to a small group of people that participate in the intense debates about Zim startups and technology. Will be thinking more about it. Or do we need to start thinking of a new mobile social network to just address this issue directly on our own? And maybe expand it to other Africa countries where a huge number of internet users, like here, are mobile first and mobile only. Ribe

     
  6. It’s discussions like these that make me love the Techzim community so much. They weigh in on the subject, provide new angles, challenge each other, challenge the writer even, and at the end of the, we all come out of it with more perspectives, more information.

    Post in question is “The changing face of the web development industry” is by our new contributor, the multi-talented Sam Takunda

     
  7. A question posted on our Techzim Answers QnA platform.

    So after using Powertel for the past couple of months, I have finally decided to dump them as I gave them more than enough time to sort out their issues. For example, sometimes network just drops and the only way to resolve this is to re-insert the modem (its not faulty. I’ve been through two), or as for the past couple of weeks, I have been getting no more than 56kb/s (yes same speed as dialup!)

    click the title for more