Forum highlights potential of startups

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By Rosemary Mirondo

By Gadiosa Lamtey

Dar es Salaam. Following numerous challenges faced by startups, an innovation and tech forum series has been launched to enhance and improve an enabling environment for women and youth-led innovation ventures.

Such challenges as reported include lack of exposure, accessing finance and human resources, among others.

In view of this Innovation and Tech Forum was launched by Media Convergency in partnership with the Tanzania Commission for Science and Technology (Costech), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and Habari Hub.

The series will create space for discussions and bridge the gap between experienced innovators and newly established ventures by curating collective ideas and sharing learnings towards innovation and scaling journeys.

Opening the inaugural forum held at Bunihub on Friday August 27, Costech director general Dr Amos Nungu remarked that despite the challenges Tanzania’s startup ecosystem has great potential.

CEO and Founder of Safari Wallet, Iddy John, who took part in the panel discussion said he started his company in 2013 but failed to realise any substantial growth until 2020 when it gained momentum following challenges of Covid-19.

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Explaining, he said, safari wallet is a travel fintech platform whose goal is to give freedom of travel to local Tanzanians and Africans to afford their dream experiences by booking holidays or experiences they desire through manageable installments for a pan of up to 12 months as a payment model.

John noted that a majority of startups struggle in their early stages due to lack of exposure, capital and human resource.

On her part, Director of Emjey Couriers, Margareth Simalenga said the company delivers parcels and documents from door to door in Dar es Salaam and other regions.

She noted that during the infant stages of her business she faced many challenges including lack of office space, an app, skilled labor and financial resources to scale up.

“Five years down the lane, we have grown and expect to launch our app this month that will connect our customers digitally. It was difficult to access corporate clients who failed to believe in our capability at the beginning,” she said.

Also in attendance was a partner from Habari Hub, Wilmore Mihayo who said a majority of innovators adopt what has already been innovated.

“It’s not a bad thing but one has to change an innovation by at least 68 percent to claim it as an innovation,” he said.

“Our country has also experienced some innovations including the use of the internet, telephones and even change of buildings from what we had in the 1990s to what is there currently.”

Meanwhile, CEO Sahara Ventures, Jumanne Mtambalike said startups face numerous challenges but there has been progress with startup policy as well as the national digital transformation blueprint.

However, he noted that it was imperative to be realistic with what works in the country’s market especially as only 4 percent of innovation capital comes to the continent.

“In such a scenario we need to focus on the things that matter,” he said.

UNDP Investment facilitation and Finance Analyst, Linois Norlund said UNDP through its Funguo programme seeks to improve the enabling environment for women and youth-led innovation ventures.

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