Startup Réseau, an India-headquartered startup accelerator kick-started its East Africa expansion with the inaugural edition of “Wazo Challenge Tanzania“, announced in February 2021. The startup competition is aimed at 18 – 30 year old Tanzanian entrepreneurs, who have an idea to solve a local business or consumer problem, by using technology.
“With a near 60 Mn population having 43 Mn mobile phone subscriptions
and 17 Mn internet users – technology will help take the leap forward, and solve social and business problems. Our broader thesis is that Africa has African problems to be solved by African talent, by leveraging technology and that’s what we are here to enable through our programs. We have started off in Tanzania and our plan is to go regional first, and then expand pan-Africa”, says Ajay Ramasubramaniam, Founder & CEO, Startup Réseau.
As a part of the program, Startup Réseau hosted a Venture Bootcamp, wherein 10 high-potential founders were selected for a 4-week venture mentorship and leadership development bootcamp, that was delivered by successful founders, industry leaders, domain experts and investors from Startup Réseau’s global network. The Venture Bootcamp also had a parallel track of “Office Hours” wherein 15 more startups from the application pool were mentored.
Awarding the winners during the Demo day event, Abdi Mohamed, Managing Director, Absa Bank Tanzania said, “Wazo Challenge Tanzania was based on 12 startups selected from an application pool of 150 startups which focused on 5 themes. Absa being the co-sponsor saw the need to support youth with innovative ideas which are also aimed at impacting communities and bringing people’s possibilities to life, and this at Absa we say is Africanacity”.
Mr. Mohamed also added by saying that Absa Bank has a major role of being a force for good to the community and ensures that youth are highly supported considering there is a bright future instore for them and their daring spirit of making a business idea into reality marks ‘the dream come true’ for entrepreneurial footsteps in the business world.
The grant money was awarded as Top-3 prizes of USD 5,000 (Kikoba App – FinTech), USD 3,000 (Mipango – FinTech) and USD 2,000 (MedPack – HealthTech)- determined by the stage of startups, the founders vision, uniqueness, market opportunities and clarity of business model. Another factor considered was the “best use of funds to achieve a milestone”.
Says Jagruti Bista, Lead – Africa Programs, Startup Réseau, “It is a great start for us in Africa, to contribute towards building the early-stage startup ecosystem by leveraging our learnings from India. The Tanzanian startup ecosystem is nascent, and so far it has been a right decision to start from here. It gives us scope to do more, and have an impact. Working with our inaugural cohort, we found the entrepreneurs to be passionate about building on their ideas and solving local problems. Most of them have identified a product market fit, and interestingly, a lot of it is similar to what we have been seeing in India going back a few years. First-time founders require hand holding from program operators like us who can empower them with resources, and help them in building today, for tomorrow. We look forward to working with at least 30-40 local startups during this year.”
At the Wazo Challenge Tanzania 2021 Demo Day, Startup Réseau also announced 2 new programs for the region – East Africa FinTech Bootcamp and Founder Development Bootcamp Tanzania in collaboration with Y-Center, which operates entrepreneurship initiatives in Kenya and other parts of Africa.
Built on the founding pillar of #StartupsFirst, Startup Réseau operates accelerator programs with a vision to bring the ultimate global network of Enterprises, Capital, Markets and Services to Startups. Startup Réseau is aiming to build out regional hubs across Africa, to enable + accelerate tech entrepreneurs through structured accelerator programs and open up its global networks.
(WINNER OF $5,000 CASH GRANT)
Kikoba App (Francis Mwakatumbula, Co-Founder & CEO)
A digital platform that helps savings groups to manage and collect funds, loan cash in the easiest way.
Kikoba enables accurate record keeping of funds collected, by using a smartphone app, that ensures transparency, safe back-up and improved trust between members and groups. Having a real-time analysis pipeline allows kikoba making sense of all of the transactions in real time, which, ultimately, allows for better management of a group member and finances
(WINNER OF $3,00 CASH GRANT)
Mipango (Agnes Mollel, Co-Founder & CEO)
Mipango is a Personal Finance Management (PFM) application that uses Artificial Intelligence to enable users classify their expense, get advice on reducing unnecessary expenses and AI for personalized financial advice on Investment opportunities, Saving and increasing Income/ Income streams. Mipango App is the only localized personal finance application in the region that also makes personal finance fun and easy.
(WINNER OF $2,000 CASH GRANT)
MedPack (Henry Mathayo, Co-Founder & CEO)
MedPack is a B2C pharmacy service that sorts your medication by dosage and delivers directly to your door. MedPack simplifies the process of managing and procuring medication through a combination of convenient packaging, modern technology and personalized service. With MedPack, customers use their mobile phones or laptops to upload their doctor prescriptions onto the MedPack website, and the company’s partner
pharmacies pack and sort medication by dosage, and the MedPack team delivers the same to customers doorstep. In addition to prescription medicines, MedPack also delivers other pharmaceutical items such as medical devices and hygiene material for women and children.