Project Updates (Q2 2017)

Project Updates (Q2 2017)

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 almost four 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 cashflow positive. So we’ll file that in a list of projects on our site.

Ok enough of that…

So here is our 2017 Quarter 2 report. Enjoy!

When the Illegitimate Becomes the Legitimate

This is every day life for a Zimbabwean. The Black Market has become normal. It’s called the Informal Market because it’s not categorized or able to be tracked by the government and its revenue authority. Yet, the Black Market is now how every day life functions here. Hence the government’s shift from a cash-based economy to full e-currency.

The black market is, in fact, both a barometer and a checks-and-balances system for the official market.

The significance here is that when a government corrupts its official market, a black market arises in equal measure to recreate a “free” market. Its very illegality assures that it remains free of regulations and functions effectively.

The average man joins the black market when food for the family and fuel for mobility are at stake.

"Governments will always oppress their minions if they can. The greater the pressure, the sooner the minions create a solution.” To read more about that, click here.

The irony is when the same men writing the laws use the informal market to feed their families at night. That’s when you know the illegitimate has become the legitimate.

Now for a few business updates.


It felt like the 2nd quarter hummed by for CMedia. We were nominated for some awards and won a few Ngoma Awards which are granted from DSTV. These awards were for our work done for Econet as well as the Higher Life Foundation. We never do campaigns and stories for awards, but our goal is to be so excellent that a by-product of our work is that it’s award winning quality.

We closed a project with the UN, and have a few larger projects in the queue, which we’re excited about. In May, we also had the privilege of live broadcasting the Stadium Worship event in Harare. Our broadcast was viewed by millions of homes across satellite TV and the internet!

Leading into Q3, we're pursuing external accounts and refreshing our branding to expand our reach into South Africa.


Our open sourced plans are rolling through. We plan to make this a gift to local communities across Africa.


Collaboration between academic, business, professional, and nonprofit worlds.

The project kicked off in May in partnership with Oral Roberts University (ORU)—our alma mater. This vision showcases a medium-term development plan with long-term success metrics (data, best research, testing, implementation, scaling). We had 25 students, professors, and alumni in Zimbabwe working in a local slum.

The goal is to bring qualitative research data to our efforts with church and humanitarian work. After 5 years, we aim to show transformation in people’s lives from our efforts, and use data to prove our findings.

This project will be successful if we can create a solution to one of the many problems these people face in daily life and then scale that solution to the surrounding neighborhoods and communities in Zimbabwe.


After a handful of years planning and developing, we broke ground on a new middle-income housing development in a nearby suburb of Harare. This plot will have around 350 homes, filling a much needed sector of the housing market where many middle-income houses are not being built fast enough for the local demand.


We’ve had a consistent uptake on local investment conversations, predominately in the tech space. There are a number of entrepreneur tandems and teams in Zimbabwe that are seeking to solve social money issues since everyone in the nation has that problem. E-commerce is still a weak point in the nation (non-existent) and we’re interested in chatting with teams that are solving this problem. These conversations are exciting but also slow going as the difficult environment causes many hurdles to jump over before having a viable proof of concept. This result forces us to have many irons in the fire on these deals because they take a long time to develop and often fall through regarding timing. But we’re hopeful for a few of these rockstar teams to be able to come up with compelling and scalable solutions.


  • If you haven’t heard our podcast, then click here and give it a listen. Every Tuesday, Tommy delivers a compelling talk on topics ranging from efficient business practices to creating company culture within your teams.
  • We’ve also had the opportunity to speak and train leaders in places like Rwanda, Switzerland, South Africa, and of course Zimbabwe in Q2.


Cash has been absolutely obliterated. It doesn’t exist anywhere. Because cash is so hard to come by, it takes six separate people to pay one invoice. Everyone owes everyone. In this kind of environment, trust and relationships help, but they also don’t solve the problem. It’s systemic and the culture here continues to look to next year. “2018 is just around the corner…” is a common phrase to hear in conversations.

But how can you live life constantly running from the past crisis and looking forward to next year? An environment where 95% of people are formally unemployed is not a place you would expect to find hope and expectancy. Yet, there’s a remnant of faithful people here working hard each day, believing for a better life for their family, and striving to make local changes for the betterment of their communities.

It’s these people that keep us motivated and passionate to see things change—even if it’s just incremental. There’s a group of people that are serious, driven, and focused on becoming who God has made them to be and changing the environment around them.

Thanks for reading! We’ll talk to you soon.

Tim, Tommy & the rockstars on the Emerging Ideas team

(photo via brck)