Oh, Oh, Oh, Seasonal Greetings From Sahara Ventures CEO.
It has been a year of finding our feet from the COVID-19 pandemic, a lot of fun, chaos, and learning.
All we wanted this year was to #UnleashPotential of African youths through innovation, technology and entrepreneurship after the setbacks of
COVID-19 pandemic. The year started slowly, with some ups and downs here and there, but eventually, we picked pace. We are grateful to our tribe, “Saharans”, partners and clients who stuck with us during the difficult times. We built a brand of the people, and the people were there when we needed them the most.
Most of our work this year has been with academic institutions through projects we do with partners; Innoversity, DALILA, SUSIE and GEOICT4e. We have learned a lot through this critical block of an innovation ecosystem. We were able to pilot different tools and approaches; Startup Launchpads, Startup School Campaigns, Research Commercialization Tools, and Campus Exchange Programmes. The most exciting part of the process was introducing new concepts of Challenge Based and Multi Competence learning approaches to universities and HLIs. Sahara Ventures believes academic institutions have a crucial role in accelerating innovation and digital entrepreneurship in the African continent.
We have also learned a lot from the work we do with UNCDF Tanzania through the PesaTech Fintech Accelerator Program. The new tools and approaches that have emerged from the program to assess business models and technical feasibility of the fintech solutions will have a long-term impact beyond the program's lifespan thanks to our partners Enea Advisors, Hindsight Ventures and IPF Softwares. Strategic partnerships between the startups and external partners such as Vodacom Tanzania, MFS Africa and others. It is living proof of the gap that exists in our ecosystem. We are excited to see how the program will evolve moving forward. We are happy to see some of our portfolio companies raising seed funds from commercial and impact investors.
We are honoured to have signed another long-term partnership with UNFPA Tanzania as their focal innovation partner to design and co-implement to develop innovative programmes and products with other partners in the area of Sexual Reproductive Health. The fourth cohort of the Amua Accelerator in Zanzibar was successfully implemented. We are happy with what we have achieved in the past five years with the Amua Accelerator platform. We are impressed with the success of some of our portfolio organizations, such as Afya Intelligence and TAI Tanzania. TAI Tanzania impacts thousands of people with their innovative storytelling approach via animations. We wish them more success in the year 2023.
Our tools from Swichi Program with DW Akademia were adopted by 11 Small and Medium Media Houses across the country to help them strategize for disruptions brought about by the digitilization of the traditional media industry. We are happy to have contributed to the sustainability and ensure the long-term existence of some of these media houses. We want to thank the support of the Tanzania Media Foundation (TMF) and the Press Clubs throughout the program. News is no longer news; we need to help media houses future-proof their businesses.
We continued our efforts to unlock capital for African startups this year. Reaching out to over 30 early investors at the regional and global levels. We are looking to engage with more investors in 2023 through a digital platform as we are looking to automate our system of investors and startups matchmaking. My time in Kenya searching for early-stage investors was worth a while. Thanks to all investors and investment firms that welcomed us to their offices; DoB Equity, Baobab Network, Unconventional Capital, Raisin Capital, Acumen, Lateral VC, Viktoria Ventures, NaiBan and others. I’m sure in 2023. We will see more deals between Tanzanian startups and some of these investors.
We have continued our work aligning with our mission statement of building a more mature innovation ecosystem in Africa by working with partners across multiple areas, telling African digital stories to BBC and CNBC Africa, supporting future skills (using AI tools) for youths in Arusha in partnership with KOICS, running innovation workshop for GIZ and UNFPA Tanzania, contributing to the body of knowledge through insights report we published with our partners; Briter Bridges, Tanzania Data Lab, UNCDF and others. You can review all our reports here. We have also contributed to multiple reports covering innovation, technology and entrepreneurship in Africa.
We will continue our work with the government to support grassroots innovators emerging from the MAKISATU program. Sahara Accelerator wants to play a critical role in getting some of the businesses investor-ready through our investor readiness program and help some to commercialize their innovation and research through our ReComm Program. The Recomm program to support innovation and research commercialisation will be launched next year in partnership with HLIs as part of the Innoversity Project.
We are happy to see some of our portfolio companies becoming the go-to digital solutions for consumers and businesses in Tanzania. We are so impressed with Dawa Mkononi, Hover, Remmo App, GasFasta, Bizzyn, Settlo, Safari Wallet, EvMak, Afri Solutions and others that are disrupting multiple sectors across. This is just the beginning. We are expecting new products and solutions will emerge from the ecosystem. We are honoured to be part of their story.
It was a refreshing year of the Sahara Sparks people in large groups meeting again after the COVID-19 event protocols. Themed #PotentialUnleashed, it was great to see our colleagues, partners, mentors and old friends sharing their ideas on the Sahara Sparks stage again. Thanks to our major partner this year, the UNDP Funguo Program, the event was a success, with over 4000 people engaging with it in five days. We want to thank all our partners; Total Energies Tanzania, Briter Bridges, UNCDF Tanzania, GAIN Tanzania and others who supported us in one way or another.
Sahara Sparks also supported and participated in multiple ecosystem events organized by partners, including; East Venture Capital Association (EAVCA) Conference in Dar, Jukwaa Africa’s Social Media Day, ABC Attorney Conference, Diaspora STI Conference, and TPSF Private Sector day. This year also, for the first time, Sahara Ventures partnered with Clouds Media Group (CMG) to launch the first edition of Lianzishe Innovation Challenge, promoting grassroots innovators through matchmaking with strategic partners and sponsors.
Sahara Ventures and CMG are planning to launch another circle of innovation challenge next year in partnership with the government through Tanzania’s Commission For Science and Technology (COSTECH). Sahara Ventures believes in strategic partnership and collaboration with the government. We are honoured to be part of the National Innovation Framework Team, the National STI Policy Team and the National ICT Sandbox Taskforce. We will continue to offer our knowledge and experience.
It was also a great year for Silicon Dar as its story was featured in China's most credible news agency, Xinhua. We are looking to officially kickstart the conversation with Kinondoni Municipal council in 2023 about Silicon Dar. and the government involvement. Sahara Ventures continues to build the innovation ecosystem in Africa by strategically working and engaging with key ecosystem actors. We are open to partnerships and collaboration with public and private actors.
This being said, again, thank you so much. We are looking forward to future collaboration.
I wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year — Enjoy Responsibly.