By Brian Sedze
ALMOST every adult Zimbabwean has an idea resident in his mind to make Zimbabwe a better place in terms of mainly the economy.
These ideas have unfortunately no innovation funnel in which government, business and finance can tap into so that ideas are commercialised. Zimbabwe has no shortage of money but ideas.
Now this belief that only universities have monopoly over ideas causing the creation of University Innovation Hubs is elitist and faulty because it excludes ideas that exist outside students and lectures( University evosystem) yet in truth a lot of Innovations have been done by drop outs, the street and so forth.This innovation hub idea must be expanded.
After the coming of what is now generally called the second Republic, I wrote a position paper on creation of Innovation Hubs to the President of the Republic.It was a broad concept to tap into people’s minds for the economy.It was well received.
I was referred to Ministry of Industry, of which I was requested that I refine the concept. To do that I had to meet mutual funds, banks, venture capitalists, students etc to refine the paper.
The refined paper was taken to the Office of the President whose office requested I meet Professor Mapfumo the Vice Chancellor of University of Zimbabwe.
At our meeting with Vice Chancellor I was asked to refine the paper again. At our second meeting I was shocked when he said “An Innovation hub can only exist at a University”.
I protested to the idea of University only Innovation Hub by saying a person in Binga as an example can value add on Moringa to make better medicine or a person in Mukoto can come up with refrigeration ideas for tomatoes or drying( my exact examples). I insisted that every person has an idea.
A few months later the UZ innovation hub was launched and I did not receive an invite or acknowledgement.
I was shocked to realise that the genesis of the idea was being attributed to some office and that of the Vice Chancellor.
One President’s Office staffer I shared the idea with called during the launch to say they are saying word by word what was in your last concept paper.
I still insist ideas are resident in every Zimbabwean. We have to challenges that not so many ideas seem to move without meeting the President, no ideas are generally acceptable without being part of a political ecosystem, that Zida is outside in looking, that investment is generally valuable if it’s from outside, that the government wanted to play regulator not market maker in an economy in which we have near zero venture capitalist.
- Brian Sedze is an economist and tax consultant. This article was pulled off his Facebook page.