Zimbabwe has a significant load of challenges that are presently at play. Hyperinflation, fuel shortages, power shortages and waning income levels are some of the many problems being faced by Zimbabweans. That’s extremely daunting but it must be remembered that adversity often times births progressive innovations. In fact, the true essence of entrepreneurship entails seeking and addressing a human need. That implies that the presence of many challenges spells out many opportunities. So as a principle, tough times shouldn’t be reacted to with just lamentation but must be examined with business opportunities in mind. I’ve been noticing that quite a number of digital business initiatives are sprouting in Zimbabwe.
This is a web application or platform that connects food-related producers to buyers. In principle, it’s a local food directory. The platform is open to any business, no matter the size and irrespective of whether or not you’re a registered business. Businesses that can get listed are those that are food-related i.e. horticulture, animal production, catering and so on. You simply have to go to their website to start the process of getting listed. Chikafu is also a huge proponent of the consumption of locally and sustainably produced food which is much healthier.
Once you get onto the website’s homepage you’ll see a search bar, featured listings and several categories amongst other things. To get listed you start by clicking on the ‘Add listing’ button. You’ll then be taken to the packages page where you choose the package you want. There are 3 packages namely, Free, $5 and $20 (take note those are RTGS$). The listing durations for the 3 packages are 6 months, 1 year and 1 year respectively. The main differences in the packages are with respect to the number of pictures, attachments and products you can include in your listing. After choosing a package you’ll then proceed to add the required information for your listing – this information can always be edited at any point. You’re allowed to also include keywords or hash tags to be easily discovered. When it comes to making a payment, supposing you’ve chosen the RTGS$5 or RTGS$20, there are 4 payment options. The payment options available are Ecocash, Telecash, OneMoney and bank card payments (this is supported through the PayNow platform). After completing the process your listing will be activated within an hour.
ezFuel – Coming Soon
This is a patented registered mobile application that was developed by InDev Tech Business Solutions. The app is all about streamlining the process of sourcing and purchasing fuel by local Zimbabweans. There’s also a framework by which friends and relatives in the diaspora can buy fuel for their loved ones back here. They can do this by using a pre-paid fuel function that’ll enable customers to top up their fuel using the app from anywhere in the world. The platform is currently still under development and will be fully accessible soon.
The platform has 3 main functions namely, top-up, fill-up and simplify. The top-up function is about topping up your fuel balance. Through that function, one can actually request fuel from friends and family in any part of the world. Through the fill-up, you get to select your fuel type and the number of litres you want from your balance. By so doing you’ll automatically generate a QR code that you’ll get scanned in order to get your fuel at a fuel station. The simplify function helps you know when, where and how much fuel is available. You can go to the ezFuel website to subscribe for early access once the app is completed. If this sounds familiar it’s because it is. They have applied modern technology to the fuel coupon system that prevailed in the run up to 2009 dollarisation.
So we are locally seeing a steadily increasing emergence of homegrown digital solutions to scenarios in our local context. Recently I did a walkthrough of another recently availed business listing platform called Batsira Mobile App. All this is progressive for our nation as we settle into the digital age by using our own apps and platforms as opposed to using foreign ones. I would encourage us to use and get involved with these apps or platforms. Let me also urge people out there to continue coming up with enterprising digital innovations for the local context.