Fresh move to spur growth of Tanzanian startups

Country Manager for Tanzania Breweries Limited (TBL), Jose Moran speaks in Dar es Salaam yesterday. From left is the firm’s sustainability manager, Ms Abigail Mutaboyerwa and managing director for Smart Lab which is an innovative hub partner with TBL, Mr Edwin Bruno. PHOTO|THE CITIZEN CORRESPONDENT

What you need to know:

  • The programme comes at a time when studies show that start-ups, like other well established companies, were going through several operational challenges emanating from the global Covid-19 pandemic

Dar es Salaam. Start-ups, including those that had been grappling with operational challenges due to the Covid-19 pandemic, could soon breath a sigh of relief, thanks to a beer maker’s accelerator programme.

Tanzania Breweries Limited (TBL), a member of the Anheuser-Busch InBev group of companies, said in Dar es Salaam yesterday that it was now inviting innovators across the country to apply for its 100+ Accelerator programme that would see a start-up going home with up to $100,000 (about Sh230 million) to implement a pilot project.

“Once selected, participants will receive mentorship, training and up to $100,000 to implement a pilot project with some of the most well-loved brands in the world,” the firm’s country director, Jose Moran, said yesterday.

The programme – which was officially launched in 2018 – seeks to solve supply chain challenges across water stewardship, circular economy, sustainable agriculture, climate action, inclusive growth, and biodiversity.

The programme comes at a time when studies show that start-ups, like other well established companies, were going through several operational challenges emanating from the global Covid-19 pandemic.

A recent survey by the Tanzania Start-up Association, which is an umbrella membership-based organization that brings together stakeholders in the Tanzanian Startup ecosystem, revealed that at the climax of the pandemic last year, 42 percent of start-ups reported to be in what is called the “red zone”, going four months or less of cash runway left.

“Since the beginning of the crisis, 65 percent of start-ups have had revenues decline. 31 percent of them have seen their revenue drop by more than 50 percent,” read the Tanzania Start-up Association survey findings which were compiled after collecting responses from 1,000 start-ups across Tanzania.

While advocating tax breaks, debt relief, soft loans and grants to maintain liquidity, the survey indicated that 70 percent of start-ups were facing difficulties to cover operational costs while 9.7 percent had failed to repay loans due to decrease in the number of customers.

According to Mr Moran, this year’s program will be looking for innovative solutions that could scale quickly and make a significant impact on one or more challenge areas.

It specifically focuses on start-ups that have a product in the market or one that was preparing to go to market.

“The Accelerator is particularly interested in supporting great teams, companies led by passionate entrepreneurs who have surrounded themselves with diverse talent that are in the best position to succeed,” he said, calling upon start-ups to send in their applications during the period between March 28, 2022 and April 30, 2022.

Understanding that no one company or organisation can solve today’s sustainability challenges alone, the 100+ Accelerator helps to establish partnerships with scientists, innovators, entrepreneurs, and companies around the world to identify and scale new sustainability solutions.

Applicants will be evaluated on a rolling basis, with scoring being assessed based on the values that pertain to how they fit with identified sustainability challenges; their ability to demonstrate traction/product-market fit; market expertise and team as well as capacity to carry out the pilot in the selected global zone.