Over the years, in Tanzania just like many parts of Africa there has been a remarkable growth of small business ventures. In Tanzania today, there are said to be more than three million small businesses operating locally.
However despite the contribution they have in our economic growth, these businesses have been facing sig-nificant challenges in their operations, which include insufficient working capital and lack of access to markets, among others. To ensure that small business owners have access to vari-ous business development services,
SMEstwo young men; Canicius Mwitta, 31, a System Developer and Robert Kadikilo, 25, a Mobile Application Developer, came with an innovative online digital platform and mobile application which aim to connect micro, small and medium enterpris-es with business advisors and train-ers possessing the expertise needed to help business owners improve
Explaining more about their digital platform, Mwitta, who holds a degree in Computer science from the University of Dar es Salaam and Masters Degree from University of Edinburg in Scotland, says “our platform, which is titled Bizfundi, was developed as an innovative mar-ket facilitator tool that links SME’s, business development services pro-viders and financial institutions.
The system utilizes Tanzania’s high rate of mobile phone penetra-tion to enable a diffused population of users to easily access small busi-ness support and financial oppor-tunities.”
He says the mobile platform is part of the Feed the Future Tan-zania Enabling Growth Through Investment and Enterprises Pro-gram (ENGINE) which is a four year USAID funded activity that increas-es private sector investment leading to inclusive, broad –based economy growth in the regions of Mbeya, Morogoro, Iringa and Zanzibar.
So far according to Mwitta, they have managed to register 210 small businesses and 65 business advi-sors. He says the platform, which can be accessed via website and as an android application is simple to navigate where a business owner, after creating a user profile, he or she can search through a database of pre-screened business develop-ment services providers to easily find those with the expertise they need within their geographical loca-tion.
“We are happy that we are part of making a big difference to these small and medium businesses by offering them a platform where they can get assistance. Yes we under-stand that there are plenty of appli-cations out there, but our biggest dream is to see that lots of busi-nesses register with our platform and that we assist them to create a sustainable market for their busi-nesses. “
Despite the positive results, Mwitta and Robert say there’s more which needs to be done particu-larly for the targeted group, which they believe have yet to understood about the platform and the biggest challenge is to make them under-stand. “We have received a lot of important feedback from the tar-geted groups and we have managed to make some improvements based on their recommendations and so we believe we are going to make this platform a success,” he says.
Last year, they participated in a competition titled Data Hack Com-petition which involved using an idea they had that involved data they had of their registered clients to predict the probability of some-one getting a loan from a financial institution.
“We created the model which pre-dicted the probability of someone getting a loan, the competition was stiff, there were a lot of young men and women from various parts of the continent who had developed their applications for years. Despite the fact that we had limited time to do the preparations, we were able to win under the category of Women and youth, where our solution was to focus on broadening access to finance for women and youth.” they explain.