After a long wait, the Zimbabwean government has availed the $25 million fund for local tech startups. The fund which is sourced mainly from local ISPs and will be availed to local startups on a 36-month repayment plan. Applications for the POTRAZ administered loans are open until the 30th of May 2017. The ICT innovation fund is a long overdue element on the local tech scene and could see some startups go commercial and having a meaningful impact on an otherwise extremely difficult environment.
The fund also comes at a time when most innovators and local startups were beginning to grow suspicious as the fund follows two innovation showcase events held last year in Harare and Bulawayo. The two events really showed great potential within the tech startup sphere and made apparent the need for funding within the ecosystem. However, suspicion began to brew as those who participated were promised the fund would be availed in a few days which unfortunately turned in weeks and subsequently months!
Tech boom or fade?
Now by African standards, $25 million is quite massive for investment in the tech startup scene. This could well be the beginning of something interesting in Zimbabwe’s tech scene should the fund be administered in a fair manner (this is probably every innovator’s fear). History in the sector has it that many ideas have been stolen with the innovation owners left in the sand. This has led to local startups generally developing a negative and suspicious attitude towards any government partnerships and initiatives. The ICT innovators’ fund is a little different though. Buy in from the country’s MNOs and ISPs kind of legitimizes the whole thing regardless of the fact that some of these MNOs are notorious for being ‘idea vultures. who prey on unsuspecting startups.
Apply for the ICT innovation fund
If you have an ICT innovation or startup solution that requires funding then this could be your opportunity to get yourself a loan. Download the PDF Guideline from POTRAZ and send your application through to [email protected]