THE annual gathering of the African Leadership Network is a great place to spot upcoming innovators on the continent.
This year, in early November, 350 heads of business, social enterprises and entrepreneurs met in Marrakech, Morocco under the theme “Exploring the Boundaries of Possibilities in Africa.”
According to CNN, innovators demonstrate an awe-inspiring level of perseverance and commitment to their ideas, overcoming many obstacles to bring us their new methods and products.
The global broadcaster says Zimbabwe’s Munyaradzi Gwatidzo, founder of AstroMobile, was one of those who caught the eye at this year’s event.
Gwatidzo’s story proves that it’s not how you begin that counts but how you finish.
As an orphan growing up in one of Zimbabwe’s poorest suburbs, Gwatidzo was very interested in electronics and would collect broken and discarded phones out of the litter.
With three siblings to care for, Gwatidzo taught himself to repair phones. At 19 he sold his first one — a Nokia 3310.
After buying, repairing and selling mobile phones in neighboring Zambia for a few years, Gwatidzo then seized the opportunity in 2011 to build his own brand, Astro Mobile.
Today Astro is a large ecommerce company and a mobile and electronic solutions provider with branches in Zimbabwe, Zambia, Malawi, Tanzania South Africa.
Astro is now setting up a manufacturing plant in Zimbabwe, a move Gwatidzo believes will set the company apart from its competition.
“Other African tech players in the market just import goods from the East and sell them on the market without necessarily adding any value or addressing the day-to-day challenges that African people face,” he told CNN.
“Astro now provides employment to over 2,000 people and has created various downstream employment opportunities in companies that offer support services.
“These include packaging manufacturers, food supply companies, and construction companies among others.”