Project Updates (Q2 2014)

Project Updates (Q2 2014)

One of our guiding principles that we seek to implement as a group is transparency. As we work with entrepreneurs and companies, we think it’s important to inform you and be open about what we’re working on and how it’s going. At the end of each Quarter, we’ve written quarterly reviews showcasing what projects we’re working on and the status of those. If you’ve followed closely, you’ve noticed that some projects went very well and some have flat-out failed. We think that’s part of it and we’re not going to hide those stories from you, no matter how failure makes us feel in our personal lives (read more about our thoughts on fostering failure here).

So here is our 2014 Quarter 2 report. Enjoy!

CMedia, our TV production company—Quarter 2 has seen CMedia stretched in new ways. We’ve cut off some of the services that we weren’t skilled at performing (like website building and maintenance) and focused on strong storytelling through video and advertising. The team’s culture is tighter than ever and as the 2nd Quarter came to a close several very exciting and potential projects have been discussed. We brought on an intern from Washington DC and two of our team members are returning to Zimbabwe end of July! We’re excited to hit the end of the year strongly. We just wrapped production on "Makosi Today" Season 2, and it's getting quite a bit of hype. The second season will be airing on local television and on a UK channel that just picked it up.

The Basement, the first modern youth hall in Zimbabwe—still hosting events weekly and cash flowing, which sustains a local youth group. Our monthly pitch night events are the highlight of the space.

1 Million Cups Tulsa—we’ve successfully transitioned 50% of our initial founding team. Quarter two was interesting with Summer break in the USA and a lot of traveling on the team. The community is vibrant with about 50+ entrepreneurs at the weekly event. We’re booked deep into Quarter 3 on speaker line-up and will look to succeed the final two founding members (including Tim) by the end of the year. This community event has also opened up a very unique opportunity to build the startup ecosystem in Tulsa. We’ll unveil a new project in Tulsa in Quarter 3.

Startup Pitch Nights, Harare—off the success of 1MC Tulsa, we decided to host a startup event during Global Entrepreneurship Week in Harare, Zimbabwe. Next thing you know, we have 150 entrepreneurs in the newly opened ‘The Basement’ and we do SPNs monthly! We wrote another update on this earlier this week, but the startup community is starting to stretch its legs with each month’s event. The last Pitch Night, we saw a start-up get funding as higher players such as Nigel Chanakira, Gary Thompson, and Luke Ngurume have started attending and contributing to the Community Springboard.

95% Market Share Conference—Getting people to “get” it when it comes to relationship marketing. In May, we joined forces with VBF (Victory Business Forum) and The HUB to bring out Jim Niekamp, a man like no other who took his company to owning over 95% market share in his industry, to Harare for 2 days. The Marketing Association of Zimbabwe jumped on board and so did hundreds of leaders, CEOs, entrepreneurs, and idea men. We hosted this event on the 26th of May. It was a decent success. We would have liked to see more turn out at the conference, but it happened to also be on a national holiday. Next year we plan to do this event again and take a group of entrepreneurs for the Chicago VIP access tour.


We just took on a brand new, micro-finance company who received their license last month. We'll be part of the founding board and help grow this company that's focused on helping students go to school through easy payment options. More to come on that later.

A few failed and stalled projects (put a feather in our caps)—we shelved the water project in Ethiopia last quarter. We have a few product ideas that we’ve been working on. One is electronic accessories. We secured an import/export partner, however, our team on the ground has had issues in their personal lives and have not been able to make much traction besides a few bulk sales.

Entrepreneurship Development Centre—there’s not much movement here, but we have had many talks about doing a startup fund and coinciding that into a physical startup space. More on our building updates later in the quarter as these projects begin to take more concrete form.

Cotrade Industrial Supplies—mining is slow going and then extremely fast paced in spurts. Liquidity is tight and there are some jobs that we did at the end of last year that still haven’t been fully paid for. It takes years of relationship development for one big project, but that one project can pay off. We’re bashing down the doors of 3 major mines for new projects and got help from a local lawyer in our approach for long term contracts. We just brought on a highly experienced project manager  from a wealth of mining experience as a consultant. There will be something big to report on next time with Cotrade. There’s not much to report here other than we are optimistic about 2014 with our prospects of expansion into a new market.

Planned Adventures

It wouldn’t be an Emerging Ideas quarter without our upcoming plans for adventure. So, we're going to climb 19,341 feet to the top of Kilimanjaro! Our Kilimanjaro climb is 5 weeks away and we've partnered with Celebrate International to raise money for a brand new project called Project: Relocation. It's a cluster community for orphans, where they'll live with foster families and grow up in an active and loving environment as opposed to a rural orphanage. The land has already been given to us and so far we've raised close to $80,000 towards the building fund.

In May, we planned a meeting of the minds on Lake Kariba and Tim caught his first crocodile, while simultaneously getting smacked in the side of the head by a tiger fish jumping out of the water. Also the CEO of Thou Mayest Coffee Co is getting hitched! So we’ll be planning a manly rendezvous to celebrate the special day.

We mentioned in our Annual Review 2013 that we were seeking to fund a few initiatives early 2014. We have two deals in terms negotiations currently. One is a Harare education finance company that we are beyond excited about (more to come)! And the other is an American business incubator moving into a new USA market. Few interesting things on the tech scene will be emerging soon as well. Update: both of these deals are on the verge of closing. By September, we will be able to write official updates on the new initiatives and companies launching.

We hear time and again how difficult it is to do business right now in Zimbabwe. As much as this is true, there is a mild undercurrent of momentum that's picking up steam. Keep fighting the liquidity crisis and look to develop longer term relationships. The tendency in times like this is to scrap and get ahead of your neighbor, when we strongly believe if we all help each other move forward, as the momentum picks up, it will be a launching pad for everyone and not just the few who were able to squash others on their way to the top.

Cheers everyone,
Tommy & Tim and the rest of the Emerging Ideas family

(photo via lawrence whittemore)