Losing Power And Painting Zimbabwe

Losing Power And Painting Zimbabwe

80 mile per hour winds ripped through my city last night. It uprooted trees from the ground, flipped over patio furniture, and obliterated several main power grids in the city.

After the storm, as I was driving through the city, many of the traffic lights were flashing red, and even Walmart was out of power. They had to bring in a large refrigerated semi-truck and park it in the parking lot to help maintain the food temperatures on their meats and frozen goods.

This news is the talk of the town. How can a business operate without power? How can traffic flow smoothly without proper traffic signals? How can we keep our meat cold without a working refrigerator system?

Good questions. These are questions that entrepreneurs in Southern Africa have to answer far before their businesses ever get started. These questions are built into their business plans and engrained into their processes (or at least the companies that are built to last for years).

I think many times (no, most times), doing business in Southern Africa gets spun the wrong way. It gets twisted into a handout fest where "struggling entrepreneurs in Africa need your American help." I suppose that's ok to build awareness, but it couldn't be farther from the truth.

In many ways, I believe the process for starting a business in Africa has the potential to sustain and be more thorough than in the USA—allowing for successful businesses to do even greater things in their marketplaces.

Businesses in America don't start thinking about what they'll do if they lose power, or how they'll pay their staff if the economy collapses. Businesses in Zimbabwe have lived through that, and they're stronger for it.

A word of encouragement: let's stop painting Zimbabwe as a basket case that needs outside, first-world funding to make it. Let's start spinning the story positive again. We were once the Breadbasket of Africa. We know what that looks like and many of us can remember the hard work it took to sustain that. Let's start dreaming big again and not settle for a story that puts us in negative light.

Life's too short to wonder what would happen if…
Electricity or no electricity, Zimbabwe will always make a plan to overcome adversity.


For all of you in America, elections are being held in Zimbabwe on Wednesday. No matter the outcome, one thing is for certain, Zimbabweans are determined to see their Zimbabwe rise. And if you look at all the signs and statistics, it's doing just that.

Until next time,
Tommy & Tim

(photo via holger lückerath)