Innovators cry foul over funding selection process

INFORMATION and Communication Technology (ICT) innovators in Bulawayo say they are being sidelined from the $25 million ICT innovation fund meant to fund ICT projects spearheaded by youths.

This comes after only six projects made the grade out of about 188 applications.

Speaking at a workshop organised by the Postal and Telecommunications Authority of Zimbabwe (POTRAZ) in Bulawayo on Thursday, some of the innovators said government needs to equip them on how to come up with winning proposals.

“It is unfair to throw out brilliant innovation ideas because of some minor issues in the proposal submitted,” said Chris Mberi, an innovator.

“Many innovators in Zimbabwe are not trained entrepreneurs. Some of them are very good at coming up with splendid ideas but they fail to convert them into business proposals.”

“POTRAZ should come up with strategic partnerships that will help in raising fund to train innovators in Zimbabwe to come up with favourable proposal.”

The innovators also implored POTRAZ to avail more funds for research and development.

“There are people who are trained to write proposals that are marketable maybe POTRAZ should consider availing funds to the innovators so they can hire those people,” said Willard Shoko, another innovator from Bulawayo.

Another innovator from Bulawayo, Ben Gono, said the innovation fund was too little.

“Twenty five million is not enough to cover everything that we need as innovators thus we are bound to move backwards,” he said.

The government approved $25 million package that was launched last month with the aim of supporting budding ICT innovators in Zimbabwe. The fund is managed by POTRAZ.

In response POTRAZ Acting Director General Alfred Marisa, said they were “in the process of implementing measures that will assist innovators with their proposals but at the moment we are trying our best to select proposal that are marketable”.

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