Tanzania’s Kilimo Bando, Smart Darasa, and Twenzao have emerged as top winners of the Vodacom Digital Accelerator season 2 taking home over 200+ Million TZS of value-based support and potential of follow-on investments.
The three winners will be supported and empowered in the validation phase of the program, where they 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 tech startups that were in the run for the final prize include Shule Yetu Innovations, Smart Darasa, LangoAcademy, and Vijana Tech, under Edutech. Hack it Consultancy representing the cyber security space. Seto, Twenzao, Get Value, and Spidi Africa under the e-Commerce banner. Others are Medpack representing Health tech, and finally, Bizy Tech and Bizzy Pay on the Fintech side.
Speaking at the Demo Day event, Dr. Amos Nungu the Director General of the Tanzania Commission for Science and Technology (COSTECH) commended Vodacom Tanzania PLC for their efforts in supporting early-stage and growth-stage technology startups with disruptive products and services that have the potential to be brought into the market and scale into profitable, revenue-generating businesses.
“This is a notable initiative to grow Tanzanian tech startups across the country, we all know how advancements in science and technology have impacted communities socially and economically around the world. COSTECH acknowledges these efforts, and our doors are open for support. I would like to urge other companies and individuals who are passionate about technology to support such initiatives as Vodacom Digital Accelerator or establish others like this one. The objective is to have as many as we can so that we can reach more tech startups across the country, our societies are still facing many challenges that require technological solutions,” said Dr. Nungu.
The second season of the Vodacom Digital Accelerator is a program championed by Vodacom Tanzania PLC in partnership with Smart Lab. This program was created to support and empower early-stage post-revenue startups in Tanzania and provide them with guidance and support from application and mentorship training to validation and growth.
The Vodacom Digital Accelerator program being sponsored by Vodacom Tanzania Plc and run by SmartLab, is the only corporate accelerator in the Tanzania innovation ecosystem and its Curriculum is tailor-made for startups’ growth. Now in its 2nd season, the accelerator has received over 700 applications since its launch in 2019 with 28 startups being part of the program and receiving assistance in developing their marketing strategies, technical aspects, and connections with potential investors and partners. In this second cohort, 12 start-ups were selected from different sectors including fintech, health, e-commerce, education, agriculture, and cybersecurity industries.
Addressing the participants and guests after handing over the prize to the winners of the second season of the Vodacom Digital Accelerator, Managing Director of Vodacom Tanzania PLC, Phillip Besiimire said was proud to see the program has encouraged the participants to come up with tech-solutions to tackle challenges facing agriculture, education, and transport sectors in the society.
“I congratulate BizyTech through their Kilimo Bando product, Smart Darasa, and Twenzao for emerging the winners today and all the other startups who have been part of the VDA season 2. The judges had a hard time selecting a winner because you all had great business ideas. It is inspiring to see young people turn technology-driven solutions into revenue-generating businesses. I hope these winners will encourage more tech startups to participate in our upcoming programs and come up with innovative ideas that will solve the challenges facing our communities” said Director of Digital Services, Vodacom Tanzania PLC, Nguvu Kamando.
Nguvu called on other corporates to ideate and support such initiatives since there was the need to bring in more start-ups that need acceleration. “We received hundreds of applicants but could only accommodate a few. Maybe the government can look into providingincentives to corporates that support such initiatives to increase the appetite and partner with us to support more start-ups” he concluded.
On his/her part one of the founders who emerged among the three winners Founder and CEO of BizyTech through their Kilimo Bando product Ms. Isabella Fernandes said, “it was quite an experience to participate and get an opportunity to present a pitch for our company with other innovative tech startups. Apart from being announced as an overall winner, I am highly convinced that Tanzania has reached a stage where we can compete in bigger tech platforms. These companies presented today all deserve a chance to see they operate and benefit our communities. I believe they will take advantage of the connections initiated by organizers to ensure their dreams become a reality.”