We have all come to know our government that all they do is talk, talk, talk and talk with little or no action. Like the Chinese say, “You Chimbabweans all you do is tok tok no do do.” Sad as it is; that is the truth. So when I saw a story headline in today’s Herald saying the Ministry of Information Communications Technology is expediting a $25m ICT innovators fund, i laughed knowing that this will be probably be the last we will hear of this initiative. Don’t get me wrong; I would very love to see such initiatives pay off and fund brilliant ideas and start-ups that are bubbling under but lacking a bit of funding.
Let me tell you a short story about first hand experience I had with the ICT Young Innovators Fund. In 2011, the Ministry advertised an invitation to submit proposals of ideas in the ICT relm that needed funding of up to $20,000. If not mistaken the fund was then $1million meaning they were looking to fund about 50 or so entrepreneurs. At that time me and two of my siblings who are in the IT field got cranking and wrote up a 50 paged proposal to establish a dating service, which at that time was a pretty good idea. We rushed to meet the deadline and spent quiet a bit of money printing two copies of the document in colour with some fancy binding work, hoping to catch the attention of the adjudicating team.
We all felt pretty good about our chances of at least being called up to present our idea to the judges panel. A month after the deadline had passed, we still hadn’t heard anything from the Ministry and I asked an uncle of mine who worked at a fellow Ministry to inquire on my behalf if the adjudication process was completed yet. He couldn’t get an answer on the issue until about the second month when he was advised by a Director responsible for the project that the Ministry had failed to put in place an adjudicating committee and as a result no grants would be disbursed and the money would be sent back to Treasury! I was appalled by the response; with all the brilliant minds that we have in Zimbabwe; the Ministry could not come up with an adequate body to oversee the issuance of grants? We wondered if for sure the funds would be transferred back to Treasury or they would just disappear into a black hole.
So this time around, I really hope and pray that the Minister of ICT will see the process go to completion and bear the fruits that it deserves to. It is commendable that the current government can put aside $25 million dollars for such an initiative. SMEZIM will follow up this issue and give you further updates.