Project Updates (Q3 2016)

Project Updates (Q3 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 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 2016 Quarter 3 Review report. Enjoy!

Hello from warm Zimbabwe. Things have been hot and heavy here. In our last Quarterly update, we mentioned the banking freeze. Well the rumor of Zimbabwe Bond Notes being issued in $2 and $5 denominations is becoming a reality next week, apparently.

Many of our readers have written us and begged for ideas and help with hedging themselves during this economic turmoil. We continue to champion the ethos of relationships over transactions. The Golden Rule: do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Economic and anthropological studies point to the fact that relationships can sustain life when nothing else can.

This season in Zimbabwe is almost begging for supernatural relationships that can bring some sort of miracle into the system. Indeed, that’s what the situation looks like.

We keep harping on the fact that relationships matter more than anything else is because it’s true. And until Zimbabwe and the surrounding nations start to value one another first with their policies, beliefs, actions, and business culture, we will not see a change in the climate.

The beautiful thing about relationships are that they create micro-economies, opportunities, and hope. Relationships breed creation. It’s how it was designed. It’s why we call it Collaborative Brilliance. Together we can create way more. 1 and 1 equals 4.

Speaking of Collaborative Brilliance, we saw it in action in Bulawayo last month. 250 entrepreneurs from the region rallied together to discuss ideas and support innovation at the Pitch Night at the end of September.

And opportunities burst forth. Pitch Nights was funded in Bulawayo for another year and the collaboration has spun off new companies, friendships, and even festivals!

We’re not hedging. We’re growing and breaking the barriers with excellence, vision, and hopeful exuberance. It’s not wasted optimism. It’s believing in our people, our teams, and our vision.

So don’t give up. Bond Notes may come, but we’ll make a plan and find a way to innovate within the new industries that are being created from the top down.

Now for a few business updates.

Cotrade Industrial Solutions—providing mining supplies & dust suppression.

Things are slow and nonexistent, so we're having to explore projects outside of the country as well as consulting with clients in order to keep the business rolling. These are the hard decisions we have to make. Is the business dying? We don't think so, but the industry is dead unless you're willing to play the Corrupt Game which we refuse to do.

CMedia—your story is your marketing.

We’ve continued to remodel the studio and it’s loaded with atmosphere. Because a space, should always be more than that. The space has helped to created a refreshing meeting place. The warm lighting and earthy colors blend well to make it the ideal place for serious and casual conversations.

We had a few very cool media minds out to Zim in Quarter 3. We're trying to be intentional about collaborating to do better art. And it’s been a lot of fun. We’ve got TV shows, movie ideas, and some new clients to work with because of these collaborations. Stephen Kendrick a top Christian Film producer was in Zimbabwe in August. Kendrick is famed for producing films like Fireproof, Facing the Giants, War Room & Courageous. Connecting him with our team was a chance to collaborate on ideas for future film projects. More to follow on this later.

And that’s a wrap with season 1 of the Simba Savannah TV Show. The stats are in. The entrepreneurship show is rumored to have 1.4M viewers each episode on national television. The response from those who watched the whole season has been overwhelming. We were amped to be able to work in partnership with the Udugu Institute and the US Embassy to bring education, humor and great opportunities for entrepreneurs who braved the Simba's Set. The applications are open for anyone who wants to be a part of Season 2, so if you have a ridiculously good idea you want to pitch—APPLY HERE. We are meeting with our partners to map out a bigger and better Season 2. If you haven’t watched all, or any, of the episodes you can watch them right HERE

As alluded to above—Pitch Nights Funded in Bulawayo

It’s still going bonkers in Bulawayo. We had the opportunity to attend September’s Pitch Night and it was humming with inspiration and traction. The Rainbow Hotel in Bulawayo elevated the event to the top floor and even their business is booming because of the association with the entrepreneur community. And now we’ve got sponsorship to continue the program further. We’re exploring expanding the program to many more cities in the coming months. We have about a dozen that are wanting to start it soon.

Projects that we are working on but are taking lots of African time to get going:

  • Medical Shipment—providing medicines and supplies in conjunction with local churches
  • Real Estate—Land prep has begun, and the marketing of the project will begin in the first quarter of 2017. It's close to the city but far from the chaos.
  • Car Sale. We sold a car and did it on a hand shake. The person we sold it to just shut down their company and are leaving town. She's now trying to sell the car that we sold her to try and finish off the balance.
  • Technology—we had developed a partnership that was supporting a large amount of the movement in terms of church growth. We’ve had to pivot and rebuild this app and platform. This will launch next quarter. Our beta test of the crowdfunding platform at has gone well. We plan to roll this out with specific projects over the next several months.

Global Digital Village—rural connectivity project

GDV has just partnered with a local food manufacturing company that will be able to create sustainable trade hubs in villages and small towns. Pilot projects have already been rolled out and are working. We'll be showing pictures really soon.


Educate attracted a group of students from the University of Oklahoma’s program called The Center for the Creation of Economic Wealth (CCEW). It’s a brilliant group of students who work with social enterprises to scale up their efforts. They supply deep research and a boost of energy and support. There’s lots happening on Educate’s horizons. They’re thriving in the midst of the economic stagnation. We’re looking to expand their marketing to new schools, fulfill larger quantities of loans with their current schools, expand territory, and raise further capital to support the scaling. We’ll give you specific numbers in Q4’s update.

A Closing Thought

What is it like working in sub-Saharan Africa? A friend sent this to us today and we thought we would reshare it here:

It's a slow day in a small town and the streets are deserted. Times are tough, everybody is in debt, and everyone is living on credit. A tourist visiting the area drives through the town, stops at the motel and lays a $100 bill on the desk saying he wants to inspect the rooms upstairs to pick one for the night. As soon as he walks upstairs, the motel owner grabs the bill and runs next door to pay his debt to the butcher.

( attention)

The butcher takes the $100 and runs down the street to retire his debt to the pig farmer.

The pig farmer takes the $100 and heads off to pay his bill to his supplier, the co-op.

The guy at the co-op takes the $100 and runs to pay his debt to the local prostitute, who has also been facing hard times and has had to offer her "services" on credit.

Now the hooker rushes to the motel and pays off her room bill with the motel owner…

At that moment the traveler comes back down the stairs, stating that the rooms are not satisfactory. He picks up the $100 bill and leaves.

No one produced anything and no one earned anything! However, the whole town now thinks that they are out of debt and there is a false atmosphere of optimism and glee! And that is how Zimbabwe works…

Thanks for reading! Talk to you soon.

Tim, Tommy & the Emerging Ideas team

(photo via oxfam)