Friday, June 14, 2013

Maps, tobacco tea, and a Saatza machine

I have just returned from Zimbabwe and completed my innovation (seeing the leaves) workshops and pitch session together with my gracious hosts and sponsors ZB Bank.
It always amazes me that innovation when done my way always achieves the same results:
1. The Newspaper technique does work and it is easy to teach
2. Many ideas no matter where are similar
3. I always get some gems ( more on this later)
4. I always get the same feedback; Like why didn’t we see this technique before?
5. I always get the same questions.
6. I always get some awesome indigenous stuff that only a local would like.
So the mantra is that innovation is somehow a global human quality and by using the technique of newspapers it is easy to find great new ideas.
My top ideas in Zim are not necessarily the top ideas from other people but just ideas that I liked.
By looking at a picture of a Chinese diplomat ( and apparently there are many Chinese immigrants to ZIM), an entrepreneur saw the global map behind him on a large sheet of paper. This sparked an innovation of a small device, that plugged in would be able to “screen” maps ( any) onto a wall. Small micro-slide type devices could be bought and inserted and any map made. I loved this idea as the detail and the affordability could be seen, as well the basic practicality of the device that could be in a kids home, a business, a rural area etc.
MY second best idea was the combination of Tea and Tobacco to make Tobacco Tea ( ZIM has both). I loved this idea because smoking does kill but people still want the nicotine. I was reminded of the COCA tea I bought in Colombia.
The last business as by a guy called Will, who had manufactured with his own money a Saatza ( that’s pap in SA) machine that makes an industrial quality Saatza en masse. He really impressed me and my hope is this guy makes it big ( with my help). I immediately hooked him up with my friend Tim from caterware and I hope they do a deal.
Zim was a great experience, the people awesome, the opportunities immense. I hope to come back soon and I really want to see the rest of Africa now.