Foresighting 2020, Mixed Feelings of 2019 and Sahara Ventures at 5.
It’s my tradition to write at the end of the year an article to reflect on our year as Saharans and sharing our plans for the coming one. We have just published our numbers for 2019.
2020 is around the corner and we don’t have big plans we just want to work on what we already have. Closing 2018 we had 3 major plans; investing more time on Silicon Dar Initiative, consolidating our Accelerator Programs and generating more insights and data from our work. We are happy the Silicon Dar platform went up, the initiative was launched, and the report was published the next phase of the initiative is even more interesting. We have done three corporate-sponsored acceleration program this year and supported four startups through our venture-backed accelerator. Through our data and insights, we have been able to generate reports that provided information about Tanzania Innovation Ecosystem, our mission is to build Africa’s (Tanzania’s) innovation ecosystem. Our biggest achievement was the report, “Towards Realizing Digital Economy in Tanzania” with insights from Prof. Benno Ndulu and Prof. Joyce Ndalichako, Minister of Education, Science, Technology and Vocational Training, The Government of The United Republic of Tanzania.
Mixed Feelings of 2019, Vusi Thembekwayo, The Late Ali Mufuruki, Amb. Ami Mpungwe and Andile Ngacba are the few notable successful businessmen and investors who have graced our boardroom. When you are an African startup team where the age average is less than 35 years old and those are the people who have spent time at your office you know that you are heading in the right direction. These are the people any young African entrepreneur will dream to meet living alone having productive conversations with them. It’s unfortunate we have lost our dearest brother Ruge Mutahaba, Mzee Mengi and Mzee Mufuruki in the same year. I’m grateful as an individual I was able to meet and engage with them physically at least once before they passed. Thanks to Sanjay Rughani and the CEO Roundtable, the productive conversation, and friction of ideas I had with Ali during the CEOrt dinner will remain in my memories forever. Rest in Peace; Ali, Reginald, and Ruge. Thanks for inspiring us to believe that it is possible. We will celebrate your lives and continue to learn from your works. You can view Ali and Andile's conversation here.
Foresighting 2020, Future ReImagined, that is our theme for Sahara Sparks 2020. We want to re-imagine the future of Africa in the digital age, the age of the Fourth Industrial Revolution and the Digital Economy linking with Africa4IR our theme for 2019. We have a lot of plans to continually create value for the ecosystem by working with other key ecosystem stakeholders. It’s great to see initiatives such as Tanzania Startup Association, Networks of Hubs, Tanzania Startup Act, etc being championed by different partners in the ecosystem. We would love to be part of it and contribute in any way we can being a strategic player in the ecosystem. Part of our time will be dedicated to helping with this. Internally, three important issues of highest priority to us.
- Creating more female founders and women-led businesses; through the initiative led by women of Sahara, SheFound. We are looking to run more activities and programs to support and create more female founders and encourage the growth of women-led businesses. Being a private company our focus will also be identifying investable businesses from the program and investing in them.
- Investing more time in future technologies; being a futuristic company we want to spend more time understanding how can we nurture and support solutions that use future techs (AI, IoT, Robotics, etc). We will continue to support communities such as Tanzania AI Lab. We want to identify, support and invest in these businesses with proven business models our priority being solutions with high social impact.
- Creating a Venture Fund for Startups and Nurturing Investable Businesses; Its tough to accelerate and fund startups at the same time. In 2020, our plan is to work with different partners, local, regional and global to design an investment fund for startups in Tanzania, purely commercial fund. The aim is to create a sizeable fund to support later-stage businesses in Tanzania which are looking for growth funds.
Sahara Ventures at 5, next year it will be 5 years since we sat down and came up with the concept for Sahara Sparks. We don’t know yet what we want to do but one thing for sure, we are very grateful to all those in one way or the other have played a role to help us reach here. I will refrain from mentioning names with the fear of forgetting others. We don’t have anything to give back to you. We are requesting you to continue to support our work. Warmest wishes of the Season from Saharans to you and your family.
Happy New Year 2020.
CEO, Sahara Ventures.