Project Updates :: 2016 Q4 Annual Review

Project Updates :: 2016 Q4 Annual Review

If you haven't read Part 1 of our 2016 Year In Review, please read it first:

What Do Our Kids See?

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 4 Year In Review report. Enjoy!

Hello from rainy Zimbabwe. This month has been deluge upon deluge of torrential downpour in the nation. It’s an answer to the devastating droughts that have ravaged the soil the past few years.

With the rain brings lots of street flooding, mud, and slogging around. It’s a true metaphor of how many in the nation feel during the introduction of the infamous Zimbabwe bond note. Read more about that here.

The truth is, people’s spirits are not hopeful and excited about 2017. They are wondering what’s going on and many are not just daydreaming of leaving, but actually wanting to find a way to leave the country. It’s a sad state for many.

For those that have followed our story for very long, you know that we are all about relationships and creating micro-economies despite the circumstances around you. This could not be more relevant and important than now.

It may be hard for many to wrap their minds around, but in the midst of this chaos, our businesses are still surviving (most businesses are stagnate or dead in the water). The progress is slow, but a few of our entrepreneurs are still having investment conversations currently. Some are in the middle of signing new deals—they don’t know how those deals will transpire in the environment, but they’re proceeding on relationship and the faith in their teams.

Zimbabwe is one of the worst economies in the world, and yet there is a remnant of entrepreneurs, who do business with honesty and integrity, who are surviving and positioning themselves to thrive with just a crack in the door of opportunity.

Are you ready for that opportunity yourself?

While we’re on this, have you read the Legatum Prosperity Index 2016? Zimbabwe is ranked at 119th in the world. Whoa! That’s way higher than we’re used to seeing, why?

They sited that Zimbabwe has the biggest prosperity surplus of the region in Education. Yet it has massive challenges in the political and business spheres.  Part of this is due to “one of the most severe droughts of the last decade.”

In the report, it’s highlighted that if Zimbabwe can address a few key issues, it can rise further. Some of those key issues being:

  • skilled workforce—practically train people for jobs
  • solid & efficient political environment
  • bolster economic growth

That it could easily rise to the top half of the prosperity index. “Zimbabwe is a low-income country that is over-delivering prosperity given its wealth. It has grown more prosperous since 2007, posting a 17 rank improvement in the global index, though it still has major weaknesses in several key development areas.”

We all know these sorts of reports don’t really matter, but it offers a logical and alternative perspective to the mud-slogging that’s happening on the ground to date.

Now for a few business updates...

Cotrade Industrial Solutions—providing mining supplies & dust suppression.

We've landed in Zambia. Our feet are on the ground and a contract has been signed for multiple services and products. Zimbabwe systems didn't have the pace needed to move with our products and Cotrade is continuing with forward progress into new markets. As we've stated all year, this has been a slow process. It looks as if things will begin to pick up pace for the company in 2017.

CMedia—your story is your marketing.

CMedia had at the privilege to work on the Metallon story about how the dominant gold mine in Zimbabwe thinks and operates. This story is about to be finalized. Dark holes, mining camps and the villages marked the journey of our production team.

The Schweppes Africa tale starts off with a remarkable shot of the elephant gang eating oranges in the desert. It shows the adventure and people behind the brand.

CMedia has shifted gears to telling shorter stories, and developing character-driven pieces. We did an experiment with Econet in the last part of 2016 and learned a lot from a campaign that captured a wide demographic through a Dr. Seuss rhyming script in three different languages.

CMedia is poised for large projects and the Bond Note has hit while we are poised. Uncertainty doesn't stagnate the team, but it's a faith walk into 2017. We're still moving forward and exploring regional expansion out of survival.

Pitch Nights Open Source

GDV is close to receiving its initial round of funding from multiple sources and we'll be transitioning Pitch Night as an open-source platform with the FREE turnkey solution and manual, so that more cities can start pitch nights. Instead of trying to manage the demand of new cities wanting to do pitch night, we've decided just to give it away. We currently have 20 African cities wanting the programme.

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. We shipped 2 containers end of 2016! With one more scheduled Q1 2017.
  • Real Estate—on the look for matching funding and once the rains, which have been the best in years in Zimbabwe, subside the ground breaking begins.
  • We're weighing all projects and streamlining. Focus, prioritizing and although there's been good things happening with pitch nights, radio shows, etc, we're focusing on building teams, brands and leaders in 2017.
  • Technology—we're about to launch a Global Communications Platform for a nonprofit (CMI).
  • We are helping facilitate 5 teams from the USA bring students and church members to Zimbabwe in 2017. Two teams are from our alma-mater, Oral Roberts University. More on these guys, but they'll be conducting a multi-year impact investment project in conjunction with us and Celebrate International.


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. The team connected so well that they all came to Bulawayo to work with Educate directly! More on that next report, we're sure. 

Educate continues to seek funding. 2016 they expanded and had their best year yet. There's always the uncertainty of running a micro-finance business with no currency, but this team are solid and find ways to thrive while everyone else is just trying to make ends meet. 

Thanks for reading! Talk to you soon.

Tim, Tommy & the Emerging Ideas team

(photo via backmont)