A boost for Zambia tech Start-Ups
During a gathering of local tech start-ups in Lusaka, Zambian capital recently saw entrepreneurs discuss the business outlook for 2015. The trends emerging from Zambia’s tech industry were exciting according to organisers who are planning an invite only event next month to discuss opportunities in tech industry, including fast growing developments in digital music and film distribution and mobile gaming, many of the country’s tech start-ups were failing. Of course, the risk of failure defines a start-up. Zambia technology entrepreneurs, like their peers around Africa, are eager to roll the dice and try to realise the potential of the country’s market. Broadband Internet use has reached ten per cent of the total population and there are now more than five million activated mobile phone numbers in Zambia, and it’s growing. But Zambian entrepreneurs need more than just the courage to gamble on a start-up if they hope to compete with regional businesses. Overseas based Zambian tech entrepreneurs hope to bolster the local technology business community. The American and European based entrepreneurs have initiated events that they will share their insight and experience starting end of next month.
Top on agenda will to discuss some of the typical problems facing start-ups, such as how to value a new business, as well as how to develop a product and market and finance it. In addition to that, they aim to share knowledge with and increase networking among existing tech start-ups in Zambia to provide the tools to expand their companies. According to one of the organisers whom I spoke to, Lusaka event will be divided into a general lecture as well as a closed workshop.“Basically, Zambian start-ups already have their own business ideas,” he said by e-mail. “By studying the South Africa and Nigeria’s Internet businesses, they can take a short cut and avoid failures,” He emphasized that start-ups should not worry about their revenue at the early stages. “Problem identification and market size are more important,” he told your blogger.Although most people expects start-ups to be able to explain a few basic things, such as the problems they confront and the corresponding solutions, who should settle the problems and the potential users or clients.“If they can answer these simply, I would consider investing,” said an event organiser, who has more than a decade of experience in early stage tech investments.“We are basically using our networks from Europe and United States, and none of these speakers will be paid to speak at the event,” organiser said.One of the attendant confided to me that he expect the conference to be a useful networking event for Zambians. He hoped it would end with further collaboration between the speakers and participants, and increase the survival rate of Zambian start-ups.