A hackathon scheduled for Zimbabwe’s second city, Bulawayo, April 2018 will seek to incubate and provide resources for three technology startups that will provide solutions to the city’s problems as funding for Zimbabwe’s technology scene starts to emerge.

Three teams of tech startups will be selected for incubation from the hackathon to be held at Techvillage – a tech hub – in Bulawayo. The losing finalists will get office time and facilities to further work on their innovations. Zimbabwe government recently unveiled the Innovation Drive Fund which will provide financial assistance for six tech start-ups from the country.

Municipalities and city authorities in Zimbabwe struggle for solutions to challenges with water delivery, electricity availability, poor roads network, and crippled bill payments by residents and double allocations for residential properties.

Most startups in Zimbabwe, on the other hand have to fund themselves, with only a few getting financial assistance through tech bubs and incubations. A local technology company, First Source Technology, which is registered in Zimbabwe is coordinating the Bulawayo city hackathon – which will bring together innovators and City of Bulawayo stakeholders – at the Techvillage hub April 6 to 8.

“The participants will meet to brainstorm, form teams and spend 48 hours building solutions that the City may adopt in solving the challenges that it’s currently facing. From the teams that participate, the hack will select 3 teams for immediate incubation. The remaining teams however, will receive office hours to help them develop their ideas as well,” said Tami Mudzingwa in an interview.

The April hack by First Source Technology to come up with solutions for the City of Bulawayo “is intended to showcase the ability to provide home-grown solutions for business, government and other stakeholders and presents an opportunity to create awareness for “tech” as a career choice” for Zimbabwe’s youths, he adds.

Mudzingwa says owing to Zimbabwe’s history of poor economic performance, the country has not been an attractive investment destination and that this had crippled tech start-up funding.

For First Source Technology, there are opportunities to take up a portion of equity in the three selected projects from the Bulawayo hackathon at a later stage.

Zimbabwe’s start-ups struggle for funding but the situation has started to improve after the launch of the Innovation Drive funding program under which start-ups such as Oyos, Purple Signs, Shift Organic Technologies, Red Pen, Afrimom and Native Project will get funding.

“This (Zimbabwean tech start-up funding) is compounded by a culture that discourages entrepreneurship and risk taking. The future is encouraging however, with the recently launched Innovation Drive Fund being an indication of the government’s desire to empower the creation of viable businesses,” he said.

Cover image credit: Techvillage.

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