Dar es Salaam: Tanzanian technology and innovation platform Smart Lab has today launched “Vodacom Digital Accelerator,” in partnership with Vodacom Tanzania.
The program intends to help early-stage and growth-stage technology startups become profitable and revenue-generating businesses. The launch event was held at Smart Lab offices in Mikocheni and saw more than 100 attendees from different sectors in the innovation ecosystem.
The new programme which will run yearly aims at identifying and supporting startup entrepreneurs in mobile, telecom, fintech, media, health, education, and e-commerce through a 3-month acceleration period by providing them with mentorship, technology, networks, and partnerships.
At the end of the acceleration, startups will pitch to a panel of investors and associates where the top 3 startups will receive further support from Smart Lab and Vodacom for another phase of 6-months which will include follow-on investment, marketing, and integration with Vodacom systems.
Smart Lab Partner, Edwin Bruno, shared his excitement for the new program saying that “we are excited to be part of the “Vodacom Accelerator” and together with Vodacom we hope to create a brand-building platform for the tech-savvy youths.
And also to solve problems in corporate by connecting them with youth who are building the next innovative products and seeing how these can act as partners in driving development. In partnership with Vodacom, we hope to create the next round of success stories for Tanzanian entrepreneurs building fast-growing technology companies coming from within the country and scaling across Africa.”
He detailed that “the innovation community has mushroomed in Tanzania from just a handful of hubs in 2011 to more than 45 in 2019 but there has been a slower involvement from the corporate side and Vodacom in this partnership with Smart Lab will lead in bridging that gap, we look forward to a tech evolved future for Tanzania that is full of disruptive solutions which will leave an impact to the coming generations.”
Speaking during the launch event Vodacom Tanzania Plc Managing Director Hisham Hendi said that the partnership between Vodacom Tanzania and Smart Lab is a crucial move towards providing opportunities to startup businesses via technological paths which will result into workable business models which will benefit communities, especially scores of youth across the country, he encouraged more youth to be innovative and take advantage of this opportunity.
He also added, “Vodacom has partnered with Smart Lab, a well-known innovation hub that aims to bring tangible results that will disrupt the innovation eco-system. So, this will be an opportunity for startups and innovators in the selected criteria to showcase their products and also gain from the platform including exclusive partnership deals with Vodacom, mentorship, technical assistance, marketing and exposure to Vodacom and Smart Lab’s large network of partner.’
The launch was also attended by other stakeholders from the government, investor community, innovation hubs, financial institutions, corporates, startups, university professors, development partners, embassies and key players in the technology and innovation community.