Vodacom Tanzania awards top tech start-ups with $85k

Vodacom Tanzania: Three tech startups have emerged as the top winners of the second edition of Vodacom’s digital accelerator in Tanzania. Photo: Supplied/Ventureburn
Three tech startups have emerged as the top winners of the second edition of Vodacom’s digital accelerator in Tanzania. Photo: Supplied/Ventureburn

Vodacom Tanzania, in partnership with Smart Lab, has announced the three winners of the second season of its digital accelerator programme. The top three start-ups were selected after a competitive pitching event and public voting process, with the winners set to receive a combined total of over TZS 200 million (about $85 500) in value-based support and follow-on investments.

This year’s programme received over 700 applications and saw 12 start-ups selected to participate, from industries such as fintech, health, e-commerce, education, agriculture, and cybersecurity.

Speaking at the Demo Day event, Dr Amos Nungu, the director-general of the Tanzania Commission for Science and Technology, praised Vodacom Tanzania for its support of early-stage and growth-stage technology start-ups.

He noted that science and technology advancements have significantly impacted communities socially and economically around the world, and that initiatives such as Vodacom’s digital accelerator are critical to developing solutions to society’s challenges. He called on other companies and individuals to support similar initiatives, citing the need for more accelerators to reach more tech start-ups across the country.

Managing director of Vodacom Tanzania, Phillip Besiimire, expressed his pride in seeing the program encourage participants to come up with tech solutions that address the challenges facing agriculture, education, and transport sectors in Tanzanian society.

He also highlighted the need for greater diversity and inclusivity in tech start-ups and managerial structures, proposing a special cohort for women or advocating for diversity in top managerial positions.

The three winners of the digital accelerator programme are BizyTech through their Kilimo Bando product, Smart Darasa, and Twenzao. Director of Digital Services, Vodacom Tanzania, Nguvu Kamando congratulated the winners and all the other start-ups who participated, stating that they had all presented great business ideas. He urged other corporates to ideate and support similar initiatives, as there was a need to bring in more start-ups that require acceleration.

The three winners will receive equity-free funding, follow-on investment, access to M-PESA for business services, access to industry experts, access to training and tools, regulatory and compliance support, technology support, and go-to-market support for six months.

The digital accelerator programme aims to support and empower early-stage post-revenue start-ups in Tanzania, providing guidance and support from application and mentorship training to validation and growth.

One of the founders who emerged as one of the three winners, founder and CEO of BizyTech, Isabella Fernandes, described the experience as “quite an experience,” saying that Tanzania had reached a stage where it could compete in bigger tech platforms.

She believes that all the start-ups presented that day deserved a chance to see their operations benefit their communities, taking advantage of the connections initiated by the organisers to make their dreams a reality.

Overall, the Vodacom Digital Accelerator program is a commendable initiative that highlights the importance of supporting early-stage and growth-stage technology start-ups in Tanzania.

The winners’ success demonstrates the programme’s effectiveness in helping to turn technology-driven solutions into profitable, revenue-generating businesses. The call to action from Nungu and Besiimire for greater diversity, inclusivity, and corporate support for initiatives like the digital accelerator is critical to ensure that more tech start-ups in Tanzania can be supported and empowered to create innovative solutions to society’s challenges.

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