from VIMBAI KAMOYO in Harare, Zimbabwe
HARARE – OLD Mutual Limited reports that its investment on startups, through an innovation hub, is paying off three years later.
Some beneficiaries are now in the financial firm’s ecosystem.
The group launched its Eight2five innovation hub in 2020 with “a vision to create a place where dreams and ideas would be realised.”
That was at the height of the pandemic.
Speaking to CAJ News Africa on Wednesday, Lillian Mbayiwa, Old Mutual Zimbabwe Marketing Public Affairs and Sustainability Executive, provided an update.
She said the hub was among some successes by Old Mutual in the field of information and communications technology (ICT).
“When we opened the Eight2Five Innovation Hub we realised that a big pain point for entrepreneurs is having sustainable growth and formalizing their ventures,” Mbayiwa said.
“With that in mind, we wanted to ensure that entrepreneurs have a marketplace for their products with more prominent companies, so we allowed entrepreneurs from the hub to provide various services to the Old Mutual Group.”
Mbayiwa said a few businesses from the hub had started supplying software solutions to Old Mutual Zimbabwe and Old Mutual Malawi.
She revealed the company was also working with the resident-startups, Zezeru Digital and Tibetron.
For financial inclusion and development purposes, Old Mutual is encouraged to consider startups under the Eight2five programme as the first options to procure goods and services.
“The aim is to promote SMME development and participation within our supply chain,” Mbayiwa said.
Eight2five has since commenced its cloud computing upskilling programme for local ICT entrepreneurs and start-ups.
Late last year, the hub hosted the first Amazon Web Services (AWS) cloud computing onboarding session in the capital Harare for the programme that seeks to upskill local business people in solving problems through the use of technology.
Takudzwa Muzvidzwa, Old Mutual ICT executive, said the session was aimed at building companies with great impact on economic development and ease the business-to-business interactions.
“Ensuring that our entrepreneurs get global competitive advantage is of great importance to us, this is why we took the initiative to put this together and continue the journey of empowerment together,” he said.
Mbayiwa reinforced the commitment by the diversified group that its hub aims to eventually address the issues of poverty.
“We believe the key to addressing poverty, inequality and unemployment over the long term lies in education and job creation. We contribute to education, skills development, and entrepreneurship initiatives across all the communities we operate in,” she said.
– CAJ News