UNDP to inject Sh1.6 billion in local startups

UNDP’s Funguo innovation programme, program’s manager, Mr Joseph Manirakiza PHOTO | COURTESY

Summary

  • The forum that kicked off yesterday and will go through Friday, will focus on unleashing the potential of young people in Africa through digital innovation

Dar es Salaam. The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) will next week announce a Sh1.6 billion grant to startups in the innovation space, The Citizen has learnt.

The amount that will be disbursed through the UNDP’s Funguo innovation programme, is set to benefit over 25 startups, according to the program’s manager, Mr Joseph Manirakiza.

He was speaking yesterday on the sideline of an event where Sahara Ventures in collaboration with its longstanding partners launched a five-day Sahara Sparks 2022 Forum.

The forum that kicked off yesterday and will go through Friday, will focus on unleashing the potential of young people in Africa through digital innovation, technology and entrepreneurship.

“We are doing all in our power to help startups that have innovative ideas. This (Sh1.6 billion grant) is just the beginning. We will, next year, announce the second grant cohort,” said Mr Manirakiza.

“The challenges that I see is that youth are coming up with so many innovative ideas, but resources to support them are limited.”

Speaking during the launching of the forum, Sahara Ventures chief executive officer, Jumanne Mtambalike expressed the need for exploring strategic areas to unlock the potential of young people through digital innovation and entrepreneurship.

He identified the strategic areas that need to be given considerable attention to include; digital and financial inclusion, skills in the digital age, energy-tech and innovation, tech-transfer and research for development.

Other areas are grassroots and community driven innovation, emerging technologies and digital entrepreneurship, and digital leadership.

He said the 2022 event which is set to attract between 3,000 and 4,000 participants to take part both physically and virtually, is structured in three parts.

The three areas are the conference---the main event, meet-ups---partners’ engagement events and the marketplace---linking startups with investors.

The Commission for Science and Technology (Costech) director general, Dr Amos Nungu, said if the startups were to strive, they needed to embrace strategic partnership and collaboration.

“The challenge with some innovative startups is that they want to do each and everything by themselves. That is not the way to go,” insisted Dr Nungu.