Zinger Systems began as a business idea in the minds of a few Cameroonian entrepreneurs. After they spent one year developing their academic software and business model at Activspaces, a technology hub in southwest of the country, they eventually launched their business and now employ eight people.
Activspaces is a shared office space where designers, software developers, artists and more can gather.
“We’ve realized that many enterprising techies work in isolation in Cameroon," said the space's community manager, Al Banda. "They’re struggling to solve problems that have been tackled before. But they’re trying to do this by themselves in these tiny silos. We think that by bringing people together, we’re building a community centered around technology and pushing ideas together with a strong group spirit.”
Someone who wants to join the community applies to the Activspaces board with their idea, which is then reviewed, and if accepted they gain access to workshops and help with gaining finance for their business.
“So basically we incubate initiatives – innovative initiatives," said Banda. "If one has a project which they feel can really be of impact to the community, they apply to active spaces with this project. We’re basically just a hub where people come together and try to solve problems and build businesses out of these problems.”
The purpose is to achieve financing for business – and Banda stressed it is not a charity endeavor.
"Just giving out grants to Africa is not really the way forward, because you’re putting in value where nothing has been given in return," said Banda. "I think we need to focus on making proper investments.”
This year Activspaces is launching a super-incubator that will place entrepreneurs in the same apartment living together, and of the ten ideas going into the competition, Banda said he expects five to emerge as working businesses by the end of 2012
Activspaces is part of a wider network of tech hubs known as Afrilabs, which also has co-work spaces in Kenya, Senegal and Uganda.