Zimbabwean diaspora uses Internet to help relatives back home

Last Updated: Saturday 04 July 2015

-- Soaring inflation and a chaotic governance has put Zimbabwe into its worst days. But its diaspora has pitched in to help, through a medium that the country's despotic regime can hardly tame: the Internet. Online portals like Mukuru.com, Zimbuyer.com and Zimland.com are helping the diaspora support relatives at home. The services include trucking food, buying essentials--from computers to vegetables to furniture--all can be done online.

Mukuru.com offers an alternative to buying fuel--a scarce commodity in the country. Once a relative has logged on and paid for fuel, the company sends an sms to the recipient's cellphone in Zimbabwe containing a 10-digit number which the person can exchange for vouchers at a designated coupon office. They can then fill up their car at stations that import fuel independently and sell at market rates, than having to scramble for fuel when it becomes available at government prices.

Zimbuyer.com and Zimland.com, shopping websites, offer many Zimbabwean goods online. People can order them online from anywhere in the globe and the goods are delivered to addresses back home quickly.

The shopping portals have fast become popular among the diaspora. A Zimbuyer.com official says: "People are buying power generators a lot because there are long power cuts in Harare." There are other concerns also. Mukuru.com founder Rob has not yet disclosed his complete identity fearing the authorities' wrath.

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