Thirty year old Tawanda Katsaruware, who was born and raised in Zimbabwe, is passionate about transforming people’s lives through technology.
He boasts of a great education as he obtained a presitigious Bachelor of Computing and Information Technology (Honors) Degree (commonly known as Computer Science) at the Chinhoyi University of Technology. He mainly concentrates on mobile application development in Android and iOS.
Katsaruware is also a sole proprietor of a registered company, Luminsoft Private Limited, which has created several applications adopted by various organisations.
He says, “I don’t have the capacity to employ people as yet. I do all the programming work myself on multiple projects, so as a result I don’t sleep much, sometimes l am awake for over 2 days to get things done.”
He adds, “I am a mobile app developer. Zimbabwe is coming up and people come looking for apps, so they come up to me with an idea and I bring it to life for them.”
TYPES OF APPS
The first app that launched Katrasruware's career was the SecureExpo designed for an event in 2012 and 2013 called SecureExpo, where security companies gathered and exhibited their products and innovations. This app was a guide to the event, positions of stands of exhibitors, a program for the week, contact details of exhibitors and a QR Code reader to allow quick saving of contact details on business cards.
In 2010, Katsaruware created a Biometric Registration System into an advanced event registration system for high level events. This app was used for two events. the first time it was ever used was in 2010 where it was used to enroll and verify around 3,000 people at a political event in Mutare, Zimbabwe, and the second time the following year 2011 at the SecureExpo event. The app had special features which were used as finger print scanners to verify the identity of only registered delegates at an event.
He explains, “I created it because there were problems of people gaining unauthorized access to certain events because people were passing around access cards or sending other people in their place.”
Dairyboard Rugby Festival is another mobile application used to provide fixtures and results of matches played by high school teams every year. This is the biggest annual rugby gathering in Zimbabwe.
Computer Society of Zimbabwe. They have a yearly Summer School event. The app created in 2013 gave profiles of speakers and an active dynamic timetable of current and future events, and activities during the event.
The Cultural and Social Expo, was an app created for Zimbabwe Agricultural Society in 2013. It was for a tourism event at the Harare Agricultural Showgrounds, with information on exhibitors, maps for venues, timetable for activities and shows at the event.
"Federation of African Media Women Zimbabwe", a nonprofit organization, had an app designed for the purpose of an extension of a database that allows the public to search and find details of individuals and companies listed in FAMWZ.
Handymen, the latest edition created for Android and iOS, is an app that allows an individual to search for the services of a tradesman. This will be released towards the end of May.
“For example plumbers, mechanics, electricians, that broadcast to suited individuals who you can then browse through to get the best suited for you. The app schedules your jobs and gives reminders etc. Both the user and tradesman have the app which enables instant alerts and job searches and results. All tradesmen are rated and commented on after each job which appears on their profiles so users always get the best people suited for them.”
Pregnancy Prayer is an app for the prayerful pregnant mother-to-be. The app moves with the user every day, giving relevant prayers for the stage the user is with the pregnancy, from conception to birth. The app has a set of changing pictures that reflect the baby’s stage of development in the tummy and the relevant stage info, do’s and don’ts and tips to help mom-to-be along her journey. Extras are a kick-chart, a journal, to-do list and a food diary. This is the second app created in 2013.
AUSC Team Zimbabwe AUSC - Africa Union Sport Council. This app was for the African Union Youth Games held in Zimbabwe in 2014. The features included a set of fixtures, team profiles and results of games played. The app allowed the user to know what was happening and where at any given time.
The Viral Suppressor
“During that time I registered my first company in my second year. I'd realized at this point that I was pretty darn good at programming and I figured I’d start making some money. I also picked up an interest in viruses and Malware because it was quite a problem at the time because the university's internet was bad, very bad. So anti-viruses were useless. I then developed methods that could heal a computer manually from an infection. I ended up servicing computers of close to a hundred students over the course of my time there. In my final year I then made an automation tool that could do what I’d been doing manually. I called it the Viral Suppressor. The idea behind it was criticized because people couldn’t wrap their minds around the idea that you can have an 'antivirus' solution that requires no internet updates. But it worked. About 15,000 downloads later I was sure it worked.
This initially sounded unbelievable to many IT experts but it proved itself and made a huge difference for many people in Zimbabwe who had no internet to update their antivirus programs (which heavily rely on the internet to be effective). Unlike an antivirus program, the Viral Suppressor not only disables or removes Malware, but also takes steps to recover normal functionality of the computer. I released it for free because it couldn't be sold commercially due to the lack of online payment platforms. In 2014 there was an outbreak of ransomware called "festasAzulCorrupta" that corrupts Microsoft Office documents.
"Viral Suppressor was able to pick this Malware up and disable it. I then made an addition to it that enabled it to be the only known program able to recover such documents. To date the Viral Suppressor and its related removal tools have been downloaded just under 50,000 times.
“It is a unique virus removal tool I built in college and released to the public 2 years later. Put basically it is an anti-malware program that can function without requiring internet updates".
Katsaruware explains that the current economic pitfalls in Zimbabwe do not exempt him from the financial constraints he experiences.
"There are countless in Zimbabwe, I need capital to expand because there is a whole lot of ideas I have which I can’t implement but I avoid to do. I need between $15,000 and $20,000 to get started (capital). I have mixed feelings of Zimbabwe, yes that this place has a lot of problems and a lot of things to solve, therefore have a lot of solutions that I can solve. No, because I don’t get paid for some of the jobs I do, not best environment.”
He adds that there is a need for Zimbabwe to improve in the area in technology,
“I have been to India and other parts of Africa, in India these people are pretty impressive, how they develop their own innovations and work hard on it. In comparison to Zimbabwe we are generally behind on the latest trends, technology and we do need to improve from there.”
What does he say about upcoming fellow youth technocrats in Zimbabwe? “The best advice: just start, don’t go in being money driven because you will get let down but just do it and develop a passion for it and just don’t be money driven.”