One thing that really makes me feel good are initiatives aimed at fostering development through young people. Most developed nations are what they are because they have embraced and continue to cultivate the startups culture. Such standpoints mean that young people are being supported to enter the startups arena. Despite the daunting economic challenges being faced locally, it seems more and more youth-oriented entrepreneurship drives are being setup. This is a step in the right direction because the youth might be a proportion of the current population but they’re 100% of the future.

Youth Connekt Zimbabwe

It falls under Youth Connekt Africa whose mission is to rally together partnerships that foster youth participation in the overall development of the continent. The Youth Connekt initiative was pioneered 7 years ago in Rwanda. Since then 10 other African countries have kick-started the initiative. How the initiative is rolled out for each country is contextual but keeping abreast with the objectives of Youth Connekt Africa. The Youth Indaba that took place earlier this year in February formed the basis for what informed the setting up of Youth Connekt Zimbabwe.

Youth Connekt Zimbabwe is currently a pilot run with key focus is on the development of skills, interactions, business training, mentorship and networking. Youth Connekt Zimbabwe is a result of a strategic partnership between the United Nations Development Programme and the local Ministry of Youth, Sports, Arts and Recreation. Some more partners involved are Steward Bank, Higher Life Foundation, Impact Hub, Elevate Youth, UN Volunteers, Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce, amongst others.

Youth Connekt Zimbabwe Startup Tour Bus

This is Youth Connekt Zimbabwe’s very first major activity. The aim of the startup tour bus is to create a platform for young, innovative entrepreneurs to showcase their work. The initiative started off sometime early July and eligibility was to those aged between 18 and 35 years of age. The basic process was one would register if interested then they would get a platform to pitch their business ideas during the provincial tours.

From the entries, 100 were to be accepted for training whilst 20 were to subsequently be picked for the competition. The provincial tours started in Bindura from the 4th to the 5th of July and ended with Bulawayo from the 8th to the 9th of August. For every province, there was a US$5000 prize. The 2-day provincial tours entailed training on the first day and pitching competitions on the second day. The National Finals are scheduled to be held on the 6th of September in Harare. Those participating in these finals will be the 10 provincial winners. All in all, the whole exercise took 5 weeks, 10 provinces, over 30 districts and at least 1000 young people.

Attributes that were being looked for in the pitches were innovation and the potential for employment creation with an overall contribution to the development of the economy. Alongside the training and pitches, there were also exhibitions were young people could showcase their work.

A Look At The Just Held Startup Tour Bus For Bulawayo

This was held from the 8th to the 9th of this month. The top 10 finalists pitched a wide range of innovative startup ideas. Nkosana Masuku showcased his use of virtual reality (VR) to teach tourism in class. Brighton Mlambo built a platform where people in need of plumbing services can easily find a plumber. Gugulethu Siso (founder of Thumeza) is leveraging on tech to optimize logistics. Mayibongwe Ndlovu is into digital recycling where he recycles and improves earphones. Tonderai Tagwi has built an informational app for churchgoers.

Nyasha Mazvavo is the founder of Green Fire whose specialization is producing compressed and hardened paper for use as a substitute for firewood. Msindazwe Ndlovu is recycling waste plastic and glass into building materials. Kempton Halahala is the founder of Bergwerk Consortium which is developing a platform that rates job applicants. Kyla Manzungu is an entrepreneur and model designer specializing in African print lingerie. Anderson Dzambacheka is creating a platform that seeks to connect individuals without using the internet.

Gugulethu Siso, the founder of Thumeza scooped the US$5000 prize for Bulawayo province. First runner up was Nkosana Masuku whilst second runner up was Brighton Mlambo.

I’m sure this shall become an annual exercise considering how successful this pilot has been. Thus all the young people must be on the lookout for more activities from Youth Connekt Zimbabwe. For all those who shall participate in national finals on the 6th of September, all the best!