Endless Innovation in Zimbabwe’s Development Landscape

27 Jul 2015 by Raymond Zvavanyange

©FAO/Believe Nyakudjara / FAOSocial and networking events bring to the forefront important personal and professional relationships which are useful to organizations. While some won’t get you anywhere, others could become the source of endless innovation and development. Through those connections that do flourish, young people can be catalysts to solve big issues in their countries. 

With this in mind, two events held in Harare, Zimbabwe that have been of great relevance to the local young people are worth mentioning.

Innovation Baraza – Showcasing Youth’s Talent

The first of these social and networking events is Innovation Baraza, a new initiative which seeks to give the best and brightest young people in Zimbabwe a platform to share their innovative and entrepreneurship ideas. 

Young people showcased innovative ideas in key areas within functional economy in Zimbabwe such as science, technology, business and finance, health, food and agriculture, marketing, and renewable energy. The top 5 teams of innovators were selected from forty finalists and are now receiving additional mentorship and training as they prepare to compete at the Simba Savannah Investors Forum in Kenya in October 2015. 

YPARD Zimbabwe was featured among the 40 innovators  under LongCliffe Poultry Solutions, an initiative that uses the indigenous chicken as the entry point within the business model to widen its poultry operations, research and development, and renewable energy sections in Zimbabwe. The goal of our project is to reengineer food and energy security in rural areas of the country.

Agro Intel Farmers Information and Networking Event 01 (FINE 01)

The second of these social events was Agro Intel Farmers Information and Networking Event 01 or FINE 01. Under the theme of “Re-Weaving the Bread Basket: Opportunities and Strategy for a Youth- Led, Tech- Driven Agricultural Revolution in Zimbabwe”, the event was held at Harare Agricultural Showground on 15 July, 2015 and hosted by Agro Intel for young people in agriculture.

Agro Intel is a Zimbabwean innovation organization which specializes in the development of youth in agriculture through mainstreaming technology- based innovation and the packaging and distribution of quality information and knowledge. It’s a social business with the aim to transform Zimbabwe and Africa’s agriculture by equipping agriculturally- inclined youths with specific business skills, entrepreneurial competencies, strategic relationships and current information.

At FINE 01 we got the opportunity to interact with energetic young people who are making big changes in agriculture as well as innovative organizations that share a similar vision and mission with YPARD.  It was pleasing to note that on average forward-thinking young people in Zimbabwe frequently search through YPARD website. In fact, one of the Agro Intel organizers indicated that he checks on a regular basis our website for ideas and updates on news and events in agriculture.

Fostering active engagement among young professionals in agriculture

Innovation, in particular within Zimbabwe’s agriculture is fascinating especially when one traces the origins of the different enterprises within agriculture to as far back as possible. New initiatives such as Innovation Baraza and FINE 01 create a marketplace of ideas for investors and business people, and most importantly for the young people’s potential to be realized. 

The energy from the young people and the wisdom from the old is also an important mix that contributes to the growth of the country’s economy. In both events young people in Zimbabwe were the main actors. This reinforces the idea that young people have a lot of energy, passion, and enthusiasm in what they do, what can be intelligently tapped for societal good and endless innovation. 

Fostering an active engagement of young professionals in agriculture is a continuous process. It’s a collaborative endeavor bringing together different organizations, some unrelated to agriculture but all motivated by the deep desire to create change within people, organizations, and the products from the country’s think tanks. For young people involved in agriculture in Zimbabwe, a thorough understanding of the basics of managing a business is important before accessing distant markets. 

The logistics that are needed to move an idea or product locally are in no way different from those that are needed prior to accessing distant markets. In this way, there are no shortcuts to produce the best ideas, products, and services. Through well-thought, well-planned and well-organized social events, the much needed relationships and feedback loops for endless innovation emerge. 

Picture credit: ©FAO/Believe Nyakudjara