Total launches Start-Upper Challenge

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Michael Tome and  Kudakwashe Mhundwa
One of Zimbabwe’s leading fuel retailers, Total Zimbabwe, has launched the second phase of  “Start-Upper Challenge”  designed to capacitate youths who have business and innovative ideas.

The Total Start-Upper Challenge was established in 2015 as a global programme that has seen several success stories including that of Tawanda Chikosi.

Chikosi is now famous for his innovative “Road Rules App”, which has positively impacted on would-be drivers both in Zimbabwe and Zambia.

The Start-Upper Challenge seeks to support youths with innovative and bankable ideas through provision of funding, business support, marketing communication and skills transfer.

Building on the success of the first edition, Total Zimbabwe has partnered with industrial players who include Solvay, Areva, Eiffage, Air Liquide and Vinci Energies.

Total Zimbabwe communications officer Anesu Mutasa, says the partners “will give the start-ups more options for incubation”.

Mutasa explained that the initiative aims to influence broader social change as it seeks to promote economic development in the young generation.

“The spirit behind Start-Upper Challenge is to capacitate and develop the youths below 35 years for broader social change.

“We ,are also trying to contribute to economic development (and) we have many young entrepreneurs out there whom we would like to see develop and grow in different sectors,” said Mutasa.

Participants to the challenge should be 35 years of age and below, and must be citizens of this country.

Projects to be considered should proffer practical ways of addressing public health, safety, education and other social issues affecting local communities.

The previous Start-Upper Challenge was last held in 2015/2016 and involved 34 countries.

11 000  applications covering different sectors such as education, health and e-commerce were received and 6 642 satisfied the competition’s requirements.

From the large pool of different innovative ideas, 102 participants emerged winners and Total provided them with financing, coaching and media promotion to operationalise their ideas. This innovative concept allows start-ups to test their technologies in the facilities of big companies, which are looking for innovative and real-world solutions.

The Start-Upper Challenge comes at a time when young local entrepreneurs are launching several start-ups that need funding in order to capacitate them and grow their proposals into big businesses.

Recently, two local entrepreneurs Winston Chikazhe and Aaron Chikukuza, launched a mobile application called Chatlearn, which is linked to WhatsApp, through which learners can access information using WhatsApp bundles.

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