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Startups and youth entrepreneurship key to economic growth

by Unique Zimuto

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“We don’t stop going to war just because the terrain is difficult,” so says Lesley Marange, the young founder and CEO of Glytime Foods, a startup that is making waves in Zimbabwe and the region. “We don’t need money from politicians, we want them to create an enabling environment for us to do business”- this from 26-year-old founder of payments platform Kwingy and agricultural analytics and data company Farmhut.

These sentiments succinctly capture the mood of young founders in Zimbabwe and the continent. Their daring youthful innovation and exuberance stands in stark contrast to the economic obstacles staked against any business let alone, startups.

According to recent statistics, more than 2.2 million young people are unemployed in Zimbabwe. Some of these have resorted to using their education and the skills they have to start enterprises of all sorts. Some have more than just one gig to survive as they experiment and pivot. Sadly, not all of them succeed or are able to survive the challenges of being self-employed in this tough market.

The conversations with Lesely Marange and Ryan Katayi reflect acute frustration with an environment that puts up myriad obstacles on the path of young people intent on building companies that have huge potential to create jobs. There is a sense that those in government and the opposition don’t think youth entrepreneurship is a priority at all and yet young voters are the biggest voting block in Zimbabwe. A harsher view would be that politician don’t get it and just don’t care.

Smart politicians should be sitting down ,for reverse mentoring , with Lesley Marange, Ryan Katayi, Chad Mhako, Kudzai Makaza, Eleph Gula-Ndebele and Nyaradzo Dhliwayo to name just a few that have shared their wisdom on our platform. These young people are on the coalface of starting and running businesses in this hostile market. They know a thing or two that could help politicians build a better economy and perhaps win votes.

For starters, there needs to be an overarching Youth Entrepreneurship Policy to harness the creativity of our young people towards sustainable economic prosperity. We need an environment that provides incentives and support for start-ups in all sectors of the economy. Zimbabwe needs specific initiatives to attract investments into creating a digital and data economy. These young people are a great resource in pointing us towards what needs to be in place before we reach out to international players.

We believe that there is a large new economy in Zimbabwe waiting to be natured that would support traditional sectors like agriculture, tourism and mining. We need more creative thinking on how to entice the young people in the diaspora and those already home to grow the renewable energy sector in a smart and efficient way.

Deliberate support for startups and youth entrepreneurship would inject life into our economy and create thousands of jobs. The virtuous cycle from this would change our economy forever.

In Conversation with Ryan Katayi

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If anyone is suicidal, I don’t judge anymore. At some point, I was in a dark place and a supportive community helped in giving me hope again. says Ryan Katayi. Ryan, a Partner & Co-Founder of Farmhut & Kwingy, is a young man who is passionate about life and entrepreneurship . He believes that e-commerce is the future and it is here. In this episode Ryan takes us through his journey of almost being at the verge of giving up on life. Watch his episode here

Audience Responses

From the Ryan Katayi episode, our community had this to say:

Ruvimbo Mudede:
I agree with Ryan’s points on hair and our inability to evolve and embrace our own hair. Are we honestly waiting for someone else to tell us our hair is acceptable in order for us to proudly wear our hair as we please. We really need to start seeing ourselves as Africans as a superior race and start setting our own standards. For how long Africa, for how long?
Bella Afrique:
Ryan you are a blessing to Zimbabwe. It is so refreshing & inspirational listening to passionate, patriotic & wise young person like you. You are living your purpose. Keep it up & keep going. You put a big smile on my face throughout the hour I watched & listened to you. Ndatenda hangu
David Madzimbe:
Ryan you are destined to greater heights… you moved my mindset. Trevor thank you for bringing such brilliant individuals

In Conversation with Nyasha Zhou

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Don’t miss the next episode with Chartered Accountant, Nyasha Zhou in conversation with Trevor.

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in conversation with trevorZimbabwean entrepreneur and newspaper publisher Trevor Ncube sits
down with various high-profile guests in a series of candid,
conversations that seeks to go beyond the headlines
and beyond the sensational.

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