On the 16th of February, the first episode of the Hub Issue Series was hosted at DeMoyo Café in Avondale, Harare. The participants comprised of hub managers.

The Lego bricks, sticky notes, and charts perched on the centre table added an interesting touch to the anticipated workshop, topped with cameras on the sidelines to capture every moment.

What purpose would this serve?

This and other questions took form as the session progressed, a session inspired by the essence of play and imagination in its design.

10 hubs were represented including Ubuntu Lab, Impact Hub, Simuka Comedy, Voices of Fashion, Mainland Development Hub, Madhorofiya Republik, DeMoyo, B2C, Enthuse Afrika and Page Poetry Alive, facilitated by UNDP Peace, Development and Dialogue specialist William Tsuma and Communications Consultant Rutendo Kambarami. 

The Hub Issue Series stemmed from a series of meetings held with select hub leaders to discuss the mushrooming of hubs in Zimbabwe and the apparent lack of cohesion amongst them, Farai Ncube from British Council, the series project partner, said in opening.  The goal of the series-which constituted a three-part dialogue- was to establish the state of the hub sector in Zimbabwe, underscored by questions around what purpose hubs serve, a key precursor for measuring impact.

Facilitator William pronounced the desire by hub communities in Zimbabwe to be sustainable, effective and impactful.

Through use of the Lego bricks, participants were asked to imagine and design the key components of their ideal hub ecosystem.

The exercise produced colourful manifestations of ecosystems embodying government representatives, training centres, corporates, hubs, creatives, as well as a ‘utopia’ of sorts dubbed a ‘dream tower,’ to help creatives align with their goals.

While the prototypes clearly exemplified the hub managers’ desires, the combined ecosystems lacked one fundamental element, the Zimbabwean citizens. There was no physical representation of Zimbabwean citizens on the Lego boards and William challenged the participants to not assume the presence of an element, without physically representing it on the board.

“If you can’t see it, chances are, you will not pay attention to it..In our ecosystem this is saying something, who are we serving?” asked William.

Taking note of certain elements that appeared to be outside the ecosystem designs by the different groups, Rutendo chipped in to criticise the ‘othering’ of externals in the ecosystem, which implied that “there were people you were not letting in.

While reflecting on William’s comments, hub managers were asked why they exist. The managers were challenged to break down precisely what regular needs their hubs serve. In support, Rutendo stated that 14 million Zimbabweans, within which there is a 90% unemployment rate, are real people with real needs- something to think about in deliberating purpose.

Following an afternoon session discussing collaboration and some of the challenges including unhealthy competition in the sector, Rutendo encouraged the participants to become aware of policies that affect them in their lines of operation and to come up with a framework that defines relationships within the hub sector. Suggestions were made to form a hub consortium to mediate issues within the sector.

In what personified a coming together of minds to help define and shape the local hub ecosystem, key plugs from the first hub issue series include:

  1. The need to clearly define purpose amongst hubs in Zimbabwe.
  2. Awareness of the role hubs play in servicing the Zimbabwean citizens at large.
  3. To open channels for collaboration amongst hubs for sustainability.
  4. The power of visualisation in planning and goal setting.

Link to Hub Issue Series 1 trailer:

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