Project Updates Q2 2016

Project Updates Q2 2016

It’s that time again for our quarterly review. For those new to our tribe, we write these updates every few months to show you what we’ve been working on.

The disclaimer: One of our guiding principles that we seek to implement as a group is transparency. As we work with entrepreneurs and their companies, and build companies of our own, we think it’s important to inform you about what we’re working on, as well as how it’s going. At the end of each Quarter, we’ve written 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 and here and here and here).

Here’s a list of some of our past project updates: 

Due to our growing portfolio and list of things our team is cooking up, we’ll give you updates on the things that have had movement this quarter. If no movement, then you won’t see it in the list. For a full list on the projects we have going, click here. So for example, we built The Basement exactly two years ago, it’s the first modern youth hall in Zimbabwe. There’s not much to update you on with a physical building space other than it’s still runs, hosts weekly events, and is cash flow positive. So we’ll file that in a list of projects on our site.

Ok enough of that…

So here is our 2016 Quarter 2 Review report. Enjoy!

Warning, we’re honest in this post (per usual).

Hi everyone, happy July! Things have been interesting to say the least in southern Africa. If you haven’t heard about #ShutdownZimbabwe or #ShutdownZim2016, do a quick search and familiarize yourself. We’re longing for the day when #StartupZim is the top trending discussion point in the nation. Thriving businesses and optimism are something that the people of Zimbabwe deserve. We’ll see how the recent discussions play out in the coming weeks.

For more info, we wrote a post on some of the economic happenings in the nation here. Zimbabwe Bond notes have been discussed and there’s been a freeze on all banking activity. It’s hard to build a business when you can’t access your money.

Did you know that in 1980, Zimbabwe produced more tobacco than Brazil and more gold than Australia? It almost takes an intentional destructive plan to bring it's productivity as low as it is today. Businesses are shutting down and families have immigrated and ditched the hard times.

Last month, we had two of the largest revenue months we’ve ever had with a couple of our businesses. Yet we weren’t able to access the cashflow. It takes hours to get $100 a day out of our bank accounts. That’s extremely stifling of all momentum and productivity.

For those of you not in the nation, yes literally, you have to stand in line for hours to get $100 bucks a day. And international transfers have been stopped. It’s an impossible environment. Hence a lot of the civic action that’s been taking place the past 10 days in the country.

Zimbabwe is in a state of complete flux.

Nothing works the way it should. Reports of Zimbabwe's economic chaos has spread throughout the world, but what can the world do? Zimbabweans have taken charge of their national crisis and have demanded answers. The independent nation is now more in need then ever. It needs capital injection. It needs policy change, it needs a fresh kick in the pants (which it's getting by it's citizens). And it needs to rebuild on solid Kingdom values. The national shutdown speaks loudly to Zimbabwe's leaders, but it also stops the little business momentum that is still going on in the country.

Some say it's the beginning of the end of an era in Zimbabwe, others just say that they are "tired." I think we can all agree, no matter where you are in the world, the current happenings are tiresome.

Now for a few business updates.

Cotrade Industrial Solutions—providing mining supplies & dust suppression

Gift and his small team have had to subsidize their income with small jobs that aren't necessarily lined up with the core of the company. In many cases, it's in survival mode. Cashflow is frozen. Orders have been delivered to major mines, yet they're owed payments and those invoices are taking months to process. It's affected cashflow tremendously.

CMedia—production house and targeted campaigns

Our latest studio renovation is complete and it looks amazing. Complete with wood paneling all along the walls, trendy and warm lighting, and fresh coats of paint, the office is a place that no one wants to leave. People just stop by to take a look from time to time.

One of our director's videos took top prize at the iOgrapher Video competition. And check out this campaign we did for the TSL Movement and the press coverage of it.

The brand, momentum and team camaraderie has sustained us during this time. We’ve still brought on new clients and had some great revenue. The future is bright, even as we weather the current storm.

Simba Savannah TV Show

This is happening as we speak, so we’ll include it in our update here. Sunday marked the launch of a new local reality show called Simba Savannah. Partnering with the Udugu Instiitue, the US Embassy Harare and Steward Bank, the show kicked off on Zimbabwe television (ZBC) on Sunday night at a primetime spot. After two years of successful Pitch Nights and an impactful Innovation Baraza event in Zimbabwe, the stories of budding entrepreneurs comes to life on reality TV.

The show goes like this: one or two entrepreneurs, called Innovators, stand in front of prolific captains of industry, called Simbas to see if they can win over mentorship, partnership or investment. The Innovators give compelling talks on why their valuation is valid, how progressive they've been and why Africa needs their product or service. The Simbas, who are encouraged to invest in-kind before any cash is on the table, barter, disagree, educate and either offer a deal or remain silent.

You can catch the show on Sunday evenings at 7pm. It’ll be released online soon and we’ll let you know as soon as it is. This show was produced by our team at CMedia and directed by Tommy.

Action Conference.

We had the honor of speaking at and hosting the Action Conference in conjunction with Celebration Ministries International. We’ve been building a crowdfunding platform to rest on the humanitarian website We made a presentation to 500 of the pastoral leadership at the conference and are making inroads to shift how fundraising and project campaigning is done. If you want to see the beta site, click here.

WEF Kigali

Two people from our team, Tommy and Gerald, participated in the World Economic Forum on Africa, and both co-authored a book with 78 other young Global Shapers accross Africa. The new book, Africa 80, forwarded by Ashish Thakkar, showcases stories of strides and struggles of 80 young Africans on the continent. The stories of Educate and Pitch Nights feature prominently. Read the full update here.

Speaking of Pitch Nights

It’s going bonkers in Bulawayo. People are turning out in droves and mistaking our entrepreneur meetings for political rallies. The energy is high, the community is growing and with the launch of the new TV show this month, there’s traction in how to build an idea and launch it to the market in Zimbabwe. And that’s exciting! Here’s last week’s update.

Medical Shipment

We spend a bit of time doing humanitarian work each quarter. You have to in this corner of the world—there are too many social problems glaring in your face not to. We’ve been working all year on this project. However, this story ends up sad because of a large case of red tape. Everything was ready to go from our partners. The shipment would have alleviated the deep need for medicine in certain parts of Zimbabwe, but the recent unrest and political turbulances stopped the deal in its tracks. We’ll keep trying. There are a lot of people that need these supplies and meds.


Educate is signing on new clients monthly in the midst of the local chaos. Their story is nothing short of a miracle. When everyone else is fleeing the market, this gutsy team is buckling down on their market, doubling down on their investment, and taking the challenges in stride. We couldn’t be prouder. Now for a larger capital injection to pour gasoline on their growth fire...

A Closing Thought

What does it mean to thrive?

In Zimbabwe, you have crickets in the grass and giant rats in the garden. They depict one of the only thriving ecosystems in the nation right now. It’s sad, but on the positive side, the playing field has been leveled. The best time to buy is when the market is low and it can’t get much lower than it is right now.

We believe we’re going to see some of the next industry moguls made and positioned during this time. You watch. The old dogs are pulling their chips off of the table and the young guns are making bold predictions and moves that will disrupt and shift the way business is done in the region in the coming years. It’s exciting and heartbreaking all in the same breath.

If you’ve read A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens, it feels a lot like that. "It was the best of times, it was the worst of was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us…"

We’re hoping for the best of times, will you join us in that?

Thanks for reading! Talk to you soon.

Tim, Tommy & the Emerging Ideas team

(photo via deni williams)