Article by: Sage Swaby July 21st
Monday, July 23 – Last Friday, July 21, SLUSH Global Impact Accelerator’s (GIA) pitching competition was held at BUNI Innovation Hub in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. Their third time in Tanzania, SLUSH observed 11 promising startups pitching their businesses. SLUSH GIA’s mission is to bring more impact-driven startups from emerging markets to Helsinki, Finland allowing them to attract financing and build long lasting networks. SLUSH was created in collaboration with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Finland and other multiple global partners. Beginning around noon, SLUSH opened up the event with an explanation of how each startup had three minutes to pitch and a five-minute Q&A from the judging panel. Maryam Mgonja, BUNI partnerships manager, was introduced further discussing what BUNI was and how it operated within SLUSH.
The first startup to pitch was Infoshule lead by Wilson Mnyabwilo, CEO. Infoshule is an app that will allow parents to keep track of their children’s progress in school. Costing 250 TSH to use, parents will have access to attendance, school fee payments, reports, time tables, and more. The app includes both public and private schools, with five percent revenue returning to the school itself, helping them have smartphones and other technological devices for the classroom.
The second startup to present was MobiAd which offers customized caller tunes to small and big businesses. In contact with Tigo and Vodicom, MobiAd has 9,020 users and costs 2,000 TSH per month. Accessible through an app, MobiAd focuses on affordability, flexibility, and convenience.
The third startup, FoPa+, recognizes plastic waste and offers a solution to reduce it. Their solution is a biodegradable food and drinks packaging. With ingredients including starch, the material can easily break down and is environmentally friendly. Starting at 1,000 TSH, each sale will combat continuing plastic waste.
The fourth startup, SmartDarasa, pitched their solution to having more visual learning in schools and other academic settings. Led by Lead Mrina, CFO and sales and marketing expert, the augmented books will have 3D images and videos emerging through an app. Starting at 5,000 TSH, each book contains lessons that students will find interesting.
The fifth startup, TusomeInnovations, promised to solve the small amount of locally developed digital resources in Tanzania. Led by Doreen Mushi, lead developer, the game called “Tanzania Yangu” is available on CD for learners from 9 to 14 years old. The CDs also reach out to learners who have disabilities such as visual and hearing problems; resources in sign language are currently being developed. Targeting around 10,000 parents and seeking 30,000 USD, TusomeInnovations focuses on evolving digital content in Swahili for Tanzanian children.
SafariWallet was the sixth startup to pitch. They are trying to solve the problem of booking vacations, and how difficult it can be. As the first providers of installment payments for tourism in Tanzania and the rest of East Africa, SafariWallet has had 812 customers this month. By partnering with six businesses including Zara Tours and Springland Hotel, the promise for a new way for travelers to see culture will be fulfilled.
The seventh startup, RusticPay, offers a solution to solve money exchanges mainly in rural Tanzania and other areas. Currently, existing services are unavailable to farmers who make two USD or less a day. Many lack access to formal financial services and are at risk of theft. Using a mobile device, farmers can use the Rusticpay app to deposit, withdraw, and send money and make payments.
The eighth startup, Mtoko, wants to connect travelers all around the world. Their slogan, “Connect people through travel wear, one message at a time” explains their startup in one sentence. Mtoko designs travel clothes made locally in Tanzania, with five percent of their profits supporting connectivity building programs. With up to 200 pieces of clothing sold, Mtoko wants to close the disconnection between travelers and local communities.
Zudua, the ninth startup, promises to make online shopping easier. Hussein Dewji, the founder, led the presentation showing how Zudua is accessible through an app and their website. Launched in February 2017, Zudua has over 2,800 products on their site with 122 side brands and over 400 orders in this month alone. Shipping to Bora Bora, Nairobi, and Arusha, Zudua will also bring tablets to smaller villages so they can shop
online, receiving packages at their door.
Worknasi was the tenth startup to pitch. Worknasi is dedicated to giving businesses, startups, and freelancers a place to congregate; its slogan being “Save money. Make money. List, rent, book shared office and meeting room spaces.” Seeking 150,000 USD, Worknasi hopes to expand their business so far having eight entrepreneurs accessing their office space.
Closing the pitching with the eleventh startup, Biotech deals in producing bioplastic innovation. Cost effective and biodegradable, their containers and bags combat pollution and plastic waste. Their market is supermarkets, stores, and packaging companies. Led by Victor V Kabegu, Biotech’s presentation shows they make their products from starch and cassava. Working alongside cassava farmers, Biotech is looking for an investment of 150,000 USD.
After all 11 startups pitched, the judges sat down to decide which five startups would be going to the next stage of SLUSH. After much private discussion, SafariWallet, Zudua, SmartDarasa, MobiAd, and TusomeInnovations were pushed into the next stage. At SLUSH, the selected shortlisted startups will be receiving an online mentoring program, a Helsinki boot camp program, a skills workshops, capacity building with world leaders, industry specific matchmaking sessions co-organized with the leading organizations, and access to SLUSH from November 25 to December 2, 2017.