When we embarked on the Stimulus journey in April 2011, it was hard to believe that we would get here. Even though there was a clear need to stimulate growth in the Small and Medium Sized (SME) business sector, our market did not immediately understand what we were trying to do. Moreover, the unstable economy at that time did not make demonstrating our services any easier as it was unfavorable for business development – both for us and other entrepreneurs alike. Nonetheless, we believed in our model which was built on the idea that entrepreneurs would be able to establish and grow faster and stronger if they ‘grow together’.
Determined to establish our vision, we set out to prove ourselves on a shoestring budget. The initial stages of our establishment were resourced by considerable personal financial investment and much-appreciated support from family. We began the journey of educating entrepreneurs on what Stimulus was created to do, demonstrating the value of the platform. We offered free training workshops on a variety of business management topics which were well attended, thankfully. However, due to the economic tailspins, these growing businesses could still not afford our services. As a result, in 2014 we had to revisit our business model, and this took us on a journey towards becoming a social enterprise with a strong focus on partnership.
Our unfeigned thanks go to all the partners and clients we have developed relationships with over the years starting with HIVOS Southern Africa who were the first organisation to believe in our vision and see the potential impact we could have together on young people through entrepreneurship in 2014. Since then, we have collaborated on a number of projects through several key partnerships where we have sought to economically empower young people and women in various sectors and from various geographic locations and economic backgrounds. These key partnerships include Culture Fund Zimbabwe with Sida; SNV Zimbabwe, Catholic Relief Services; Goethe Zentrum Harare | Zimbabwe German Society; British Council Zimbabwe/Southern Africa, Danchurch Aid, Open Society in Southern Africa (OSISA) and Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) among others.
The technicalities and trends of business development have continued to transform almost unrecognizably over the last 10 years, but through the unwavering support of our clients, partners and sponsors Stimulus has grown stronger through the changing years. This growth has shown us that there is something magical about organizations supporting other organizations, despite what growth stage they are in, which helps them to stick together and of course, grow together. Each easily resonating with the challenges the other might be facing and providing the necessary support.
What began as one African woman’s dream to transform entrepreneurship in Zimbabwe has become a network through which individuals and communities are building towards a better future through enterprise development at all levels. To celebrate the significant strides, we have made over the years, we must tell the stories that are our journey through the experiences we have shared with you along the way. We recognize that this 10-year anniversary is a personal milestone for Stimulus Africa, but we also see it as a shared milestone and a high-five for every single person and organisation we have worked with and grown with over the years.
Therefore, this year, we invite you to join us over the next 10 months as we unpack the journey by travelling back in time, recognising the struggles and marking the gains along the way. We will also reach into the future sharing the next level of growth we see as essential to sustainable futures as we celebrate 10 Years of growing together with you!