Mbekezeli and Bukhosi Mhlanga have a dream. That dream is to make websites accessible and affordable to Africans of all walks and creeds. They have launched a Free Web Hosting service, piloting in Zimbabwe, to make this dream a reality. I caught up with this dynamic due to understand what this hotly debated service means for Zimbabweans and Africans as a whole:
Kudzanai Thondhlana (KT): For those who may not know you, who are you and why should we care?
Free Web Hosting (FWH): The very first of its kind in Zimbabwe, Free Web Hosting is a start-up that allows companies and individuals to transfer their existing domains/websites from paid to completely free hosting, as well as register new domains! Free Web Hosting Zimbabwe was founded with the sole purpose of offering Zimbabwean businesses an opportunity to compete on the global stage. We provide Zimbabwean businesses with a competitive advantage others in African countries cannot claim to have.
KT: What is your view of the Zimbabwean entrepreneurial landscape and how it is contributing to Africa as a whole?
FWH: Zimbabwe has over the years lent its biggest resource to develop foreign nations. Zimbabweans all over the world are making waves and pioneering a new unprecedented business environment. This resource is not only making Africa and African products or services lucrative, but also providing our continent with the confidence to think outside the box. The vast emergence of hubs in most African countries speaks for itself.
KT: In your assessment, what are the opportunities for African start-ups and entrepreneurs in this era and moving forward?
FWH: In this era, we have technology working for us. A lot of business barriers have been rendered obsolete by technology. A once local village marketplace has opened up and become global. Most developed Western countries have always found value in everything African, including artifacts we ourselves did not consider. Africa is definitely open for business and being resource rich, has the greatest potential of all if only entrepreneurs would step up and seize the opportunities. You could literally wake up in the morning and sell tomatoes to someone in the Arctic circle!
KT: Is entrepreneurship overrated?
FWH: Entrepreneurship is one of the best inventions of men. Only through entrepreneurship can we have achieved the level of advancement we currently enjoy today. It took some truly innovative and imaginative minds to get us to where we are. If you begrudge it then you must belong in the Stone Age.
KT: The concept of Free Web Hosting has set tongues wagging with supporters and detractors alike. How have you seen the response? What are you trying to achieve?
FWH: The response has been truly humbling. With any new venture, particularly these firsts, you do get a lot of detractors. In our case, however, we have witnessed a lot of adoption and precious few cynics. We do need the cynics as they assist us to prove just how amazing this service is. Our goal is to give Zimbabweans a break. It is tough being Zimbabwean, you have to work extra hard for every single thing. Imagine if someone could ease how your business owns its web presence. Imagine if someone could make it free for you to acquire customers in the United States.
KT: What do you hope to contribute to the African narrative in your lifetime?
FWH: The most important thing to us concerns how the world perceives us as Africans. We need to change the narrative they attach to us. We need to show Africa has the potential to not only export technology, but innovation as well. Africa can truly be a global leader and shaper and this all starts by affording every African an opportunity to showcase their product/service on the global market. This is where we come in.
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