FUN Nights Harare is a global movement and event series that shares stories of professional failure. Each month we get three to four people to get up in front of a room full of strangers to share their own professional f*ckup. The stories of the business that crashes and burns, the partnership deal that goes sour, the product that has to be recalled, we tell them all.

The second edition of FUN Nights commenced with its own set of technical challenges including light showers and no sound. Hashtag, hope for the best, prepare for the worst! Thankfully, the night moved swiftly along with our first speakers of the night, Chiedza and Ellinah of Unplugged Zimbabwe.

Unplugged is Zimbabwe’s premier Afro-based ‘blankets and wine’ style music event that is intended to bring together tourists, local people, business, youth, media and visitors from all over Harare. Audiences are encouraged to drive down to the designated venue with a blanket or picnic chair, a bottle of wine, the company of friends and family to share in an upmarket music and lifestyle experience.  They talked about some of their biggest mistakes which included heavy rains with no tentage, power outages, cancelled main acts and fake entrance stamps. These major stumbling blocks helped the company to grow to its current status. Always provide tents, rely on generators, use a distinctive wristband system and always have a back-up plan! Through it all they found a great support system in each other and managed to defy the naysayers.

Our second speaker of the night was Gabriel Chipara of Mantis Africa.  He is a business consultant with hands-on experience in all aspects of financial & management accounting, auditing, new product/service costing and financial viability assessment, tax compliance/planning and enterprise profit optimization. Chipara noted that failure can be fun because you’re not a slave to the system. He spent years in Zambia on a profit maximization product that he later found out the average Zimbabwean CEO didn’t want, noting the importance of market research, due diligence and localization. He spent several months operating on savings and at least five years farming, a loathsome time period for him. It took someone telling him that he had a voice for radio; for speaking engagements for him to realize that he had a product in himself. There were moments when those close to him implored him to go back into the employment sector but in the end he followed his gut for  he was determined to work for himself and not submit to the man. Throughout his journey he learned about the power of networks and the value of one’s own worth. He’s a firm believer that entrepreneurs must be able to sell themselves and their products in order to succeed.

Our final speaker of the night was the inimitable Deborah Peters. Debbie is a fund manager and consultant with extensive experience in private equity funds, investments, infrastructure, power projects, real estate and healthcare in Africa. She has set up various offshore funds in Mauritius, a real estate fund in Nigeria and is currently consulting to banks, multinationals and insurance companies in Zimbabwe as well as advising startups and entrepreneurs. Debbie talked about her campaign for Councillor of Harare Ward 7. She marvelled over how she had just been kicked off of two Whatsapp groups because of the controversial name of this particular event. She faced political intimidation, financial waning and branding inconsistencies. Nevertheless, she persisted and even though she lost the election, she continues to speak her mind and has come become a social influencer as a result.

The theme that resonated throughout the night is the power of perseverance, that idea of stickability. Hashtag, it’s not the failure that prevents success, it’s the quitting. The entrepreneurial journey is not an easy one, especially in an ever-changing environment but if you believe in your product/service and are passionate enough to stay in the arena, the chances of success are higher.

If you missed this second edition of F*ckup Nights Harare, you can catch up on YouTube and Facebook. Look out for the next F*ckup Nights Harare on 15 February 2019.  For constant updates follow us on Facebook at @FuckUpNightsHarare and visit our website

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