Zimbabwean wants to take 1 mil traders online and raise US$5 billion, hmmm

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Tomato Appletree Digital Commerce

E-Commerce company Appletree Digital Commerce, today unveiled the Taking One Million African Traders Online Movement (TOMATO)– its solution to the lack of opportunities for the youth across Africa.

“We came across some alarming statistics which inspired us to think differently about how we could provide practical solutions to help young Africans to realise their entrepreneurial potential.”

Nigel Daura, Managing Director of Appletree Digital Commerce

If you’ve never heard of the name Appletree Digital Commerce, it is a Harare-based company (according to its website) that is an end-to-end payments solution for fintech, marketplaces, crowdfunding and other platforms in general. They say they have given innovators next-gen payment solutions and enable merchants in 79+ Countries to accept, split payments and automate payouts online in 100+ currencies and multiple payment methods.

The rationale behind the TOMATO Movement

Nigel Daura makes his case this way:

According to The African Development Bank’s – The High 5 Jobs for Youth in Africa paper; Africa is home to 1.2 billion people while 36 out of the world’s 40 youngest countries, are in Africa. Of the 1.2 billion people living in Africa; 420 million are youths aged between 15 and 35. The continent’s youth population is projected to double and to be over 850 million by 2050. In addition, it is projected that 10 – 12 million youth enter the workforce each year. 

While the existing business models can’t sustain the projected growth in Africa’s young population the internet offers a vast number of opportunities which we can gainfully exploit. There are only 3 million formal jobs created annually – showing the need to teach Young Africans to think entrepreneurially and take firm and deliberate steps to support small businesses.

According to The World Bank in its  Exploring the Relationship between Broadband and Economic Growth paper; growth follows the internet, and studies reveal that Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per capita growth is 2.7 to 3.9 per cent higher after the introduction of broadband. In developing nations, a 10-percentage point increase in broadband reach translates to a 1.35 % increase in GDP. Where it doesn’t create whole new businesses, broadband connectivity can lower costs and increase returns.

In response to this; Appletree Digital Commerce says it has partnered with technology partners that are market leaders in their sectors from around the world to create a digital ecosystem with which they aim to Take at least One Million African Traders (SME Retailers) Online.

They estimate that for an SME to set up an e-commerce solution that will actually deliver results it will cost about USD 5,000. Most African SME’s cannot afford that; so it is in that light that they have set an ambitious goal to raise USD5 Billion, within the next 10 years to allow them to give 1 million African SMEs USD5,000 grants in the form of e-commerce solutions.

The road to US$5 billion

As a first step, Apletree says: with “the cooperation of Zimbabwean selfless individuals and businesses that support the vision” they have put together “The Africa’s Best Jobs Crowdfund Prize Draw” whose goal is to raise USD 263 Million while at the same time “creating opportunities” for 38 individuals which will be “life-changing.”

According to Daura, the International Finance Corporation (IFC) in partnership with the European Commission have indicated that the African e-commerce market could benefit by around $14.5 billion if the number of women selling on online platforms achieves parity with men.

“It is to try and plug some of these challenges and offer solutions that TOMATO has come into being today,”

Nigel Daura, Managing Director of Appletree Digital Commerce


  • Fully Furnished Home in the Exclusive Section of Harare’s #1 Postcode
  • An 11-Bedroomed Guest Lodge with Restaurants + USD 250k Working Capital
  • Brand New Toyota Land Cruiser Prado
  • Brand New Toyota Hilux Xtra Cab
  • Low Mileage Yellow Lamborghini Gallardo


  • Brand New Fully Furnished Apartment in an Upmarket Cluster Development
  • Brand New Toyota Hilux Xtra Cab
  • USD 25k Salary for a year working for Appletree Digital Commerce learning about E-commerce
  • USD 25k Capital to setup own e-commerce business

For every USD 20 contributed to the Crowdfund the contributor will be rewarded with 4 MP3s “Hit Songs” by Local Artists Tafadzwa, Mwenje Mathole and Masa Caroleen + an Entry into the Draw.  

A lot to unpack

We are really curious to hear what you think about this. Appletree said a lot here and we know the Techzim community has some very strong opinions on matters of funding opportunities. So leave your thoughts in the comments.

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What’s your take?

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  1. Imi Vanhu Musadaro

    Those prizes are very impractical for people seeking to empower. They might be life changing, but definitely impractical. It also looks like they are raising money for themselves under the guise of empowering others.

  2. watch and see

    pyramid scheme scam loading

  3. BossMagaya

    Ichi ndicho chiscam chekuenda vafungamari vakomana vakati rega vati varikuda kusimudzira vanhu

  4. Shawn Ikope

    This does not make sense. How do you raise money for your venture only to spend it on something else other than the venture?

  5. Anonymous

    The website is not even secure.I thought its a payment company, shouldnt security be their top priority

  6. Itai

    The prizes are too attractive to believe. Infact they are planning to fail. How can u expect to raise usd5 billion from 1million members contributing usd20 each (20million) and at sane time dishing out bizarre amounts to people in the name of prizes?

  7. Anonymous

    To raise 5billion $US in Zimbabwe its impossible, they cannot even raise that amount of money Joburg let alone in Zimbabwe

  8. Ruf

    When you say 263million to 38 individuals which will be life changing… They definitely not lying… But haven’t mention who those are and what the money is for… Please screen the article techzim you clearly have alluded something is not right… Yet you post it… Next thing you know the course will be on your door as accomplices

  9. Ninja B

    It’s a scam, i you can see it a mile away.

  10. Bring it up

    The option is so lucrative, but pamunozobata mari pfungwa dzinochinja, mari haidaro.
    Good idea though.

  11. Andy

    Now this is real innovation, disruptive innovation at it’s best! An African doing something for Africans benefit.

    1. Anonymous

      I’m with you. We could learn something. The problem with thinking outside the box is the possibility of never realizing that there’s no box.

  12. Anonymous

    I think they have a story to tell.
    We’re probably not getting their approach as it’s a new concept, at this scale, locally.
    Bring them over again, in a Q and A format. Include some of the questions in comments section. If they have a story, I’m sure they’ll stick to it.