Core Foundation is a group of young people who have taken it upon themselves to come up with brilliant ideas of partnering with the government in order to improve the lives of the people of Zimbabwe. Core Foundation’s engagement with the Ministry of SMEs is meant to facilitate the development of start-ups and small businesses through resource mobilization, creation of incubators, business linkages, trade promotion and nurturing of the entrepreneurial culture.
We had the opportunity to email interview the founder of Core Foundation, Alvin Nyika, and here it is:
- Tell us about yourself and your business
My name is Alvin Nyika and I am the Founder & Chairman of Core Foundation. I am also an entrepreneur, speaker, Christian thought leader, author of Success Climate, co-author of Africa80, and philanthropist. As a serial social entrepreneur, I founded Core Foundation, Gibeon Enterprises, and Success Climate Social Enterprise. All three of these organizations work to inspire economic advancement and social change throughout Zimbabwe and greater Africa.
I communicate regularly to a growing audience through radio talk shows on SFM, The Entrepreneur and The Morning Grill ZiFM on Enterprise Zimbabwe and Impact, and ZBC Radio Zimbabwe on Vechidiki varimumabhizimusi (youth in business), BBC Radio Merseyside, and Africa80. I am a trustee to numerous charities in Africa and have been featured in Parade Magazine, Botswana Youth Portal, Africa Inspirational Stories, Venture Africa, ModernGhana, NaydChat (Kenya), and the African View Point Journal. I was also nominated one of the 100 most influential Zimbabweans under 40 in 2014 & 2015.
About Core Foundation
Core Foundation, www.corefoundationafrica.org, is a hybrid organization that focuses on social entrepreneurial development and wealth creation in rural and urban areas using entrepreneurial development and resource creation to sustain communities and enable economic development. The goal is to create resilient, indigenous and technology-savvy entrepreneurs with a global vision, who will be efficient and who will inculcate entrepreneurial values among educated youth and get school drop-outs to think of entrepreneurship as a viable career option. In March 2015, Core Foundation, signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Ministry of Small and Medium Enterprises in Zimbabwe towards the facilitation of the development of SMEs through resource mobilization and business linkages.
- How much did you need to start your business and how were you able to raise that capital?
Capital has always been an issue for every start up and for us to get started we had to raise our own capital. I remember very well that one of our first investors was a lady who invested $600 for company registration fees. We approached people we had close relationship with especially those who have seen our work and individuals that we have done business with. Through those relationships, we manage to get our first office rentals paid for 9 months in advance. Having the basics covered, gave us time to plan and strategies on how we could sustain and raise capital for operations and programs. We later went into a Joint Venture with Gibeon Enterprise, an ICT distribution company, and were able to raise $14,000 which covered our programs and operations. We believe that business is all about relationships and trust and those relationships can be your greatest capital resource.
- What are some of the challenges you face in your business and how do you overcome those challenges?
We have had our share of challenges and every time we faced a setback we used it as a turning point.
When you’re young and trying to work with governments, you’ll need lot of patience. We still need to break the stereotype of thinking that most of the innovations that are done by young people are backed up by other influential people who’re using them as a front faces. In that effect, we are not taken seriously. It takes lot of hard work and commitment to stand for what you believe. Africa has great potential and most of it is lost with too many red tapes and other factors that restrict a conducive ecosystem. We are grateful for the support we receive from the Ministry of SMEs in Zimbabwe based on our partnership.
- Where do you see your business 5 years from now and what steps are you taking today to reach that objective?
The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams. Our mission is to create entrepreneurial communities in order to change the culture of rural places so they can embrace the potential of entrepreneurship. We basically help young people start businesses in order to create jobs. Development of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) has been recognized throughout the world as an effective mechanism to facilitate economic development. Indeed, it is the SME sector, which has the highest capital – employment ratio and affords regional balance in development. It is the sector which provides opportunities for the youth to exhibit their entrepreneurial potential by being ‘job creators’ rather than ‘job seekers’. This mindset is critical in a situation where unemployment is on a rise. Core Foundation is a group of young people who have taken it upon themselves to come up with brilliant ideas of partnering with the government in order to improve the lives of the people of Zimbabwe. Core Foundation’s engagement with the Ministry of SMEs is meant to facilitate the development of start-ups and small businesses through resource mobilization, creation of incubators, business linkages, trade promotion and nurturing of the entrepreneurial culture.
Last year, Core Foundation lead the hosting of the second National Steering Committee on Formalization of the Informal Sector, which was a stakeholder’s consultative forum on coming up with strategies on regulating the activities of informal business players.
- What advice would you give other entrepreneurs looking to start a business or invest in Africa?
With one of the world’s youngest populations (over 50 percent of Africans are younger than 31), the continent is rich with creative and innovative talent
1- Africa is Diversifying: African economies are finally beginning to diversify beyond commodities, though this is still in the early stages. Africa is seeing a returning Diaspora that recognizes the potential and opportunities in their own countries.
2- Solar energy is one of Africa’s most abundant natural resources. Most parts of sub-Saharan Africa enjoy more than 300 days of free God-given sunlight every year. Still, over 600 million people on the continent, especially in rural areas, don’t have access to reliable electricity. In most cities and towns, power outages are the norm and people often have to rely on noisy petrol and diesel power generators
3- Agribusiness is Africa’s untapped goldmine, and a major potential source of millionaires, with up to 60 percent of the world’s uncultivated arable land, fertile soils, abundant labor, and all-year sunshine, sub-Saharan Africa surely has the potential to become the world’s biggest exporter of food products.
4- Customers are changing: With the growth of Africa’s middle class, we’re seeing development of new expectations. Educated, urban professionals are young, brand-aware and sophisticated in terms of their consumption.
5- Payment Solutions: Every year in Africa, over $100 billion in transactions are still done in cash. This presents a huge and lucrative financial services opportunity for savvy entrepreneurs.
- How is your business participating to the development of Africa?
The desire to re-imagine start up financing has always been at our core. We are entrepreneurs at heart aiming to build a long lasting institution amidst the constantly evolving start-up ecosystem. We are the go to partner of our entrepreneurs, we aim to empower visionary entrepreneurs building unique solutions that reshape the way African’s live, work, consume and transact. Along with capital, we focus on a long term partnership with entrepreneurs to help unlock large value through disruptive innovation introducing new paradigms on finance and economic to transformational businesses as new models of poverty alleviation and sustainable economies.
We have also partnered with African Union Chapter on Africa112 initiative which will help every young African entrepreneur and women entrepreneur in Africa under the theme: THE FUTURE OF AFRICA:HER YOUTH AND WOMEN which will benefit different African countries.