Renew Capital's operations have expanded to nine African countries, spanning four regions. We aim to provide insight into Africa's startup scene, along with the opportunities and challenges it presents through a series of blogs from our team on the ground. If you share our passion for developing entrepreneurship in Africa, we invite you to check out our open roles.
How I See My Ecosystem: Tanzania’s Entrepreneurial Scene Tackling Local Challenges
By Margaret Mandeya, ML Kidaha | Fri Oct 27 2023
Insights from ML Kidaha, Renew Capital Investment and Project Manager based in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.
Tanzania has a population of over 67 million people, making it one of the most populous countries in Africa. This vibrant and youthful nation is also one of the continent's fastest-growing economies. ML Kidaha, Renew Capital investment and project manager for Tanzania sheds light on the startup scene in the country, citing that the community-oriented culture of Tanzania, embodied by the Umoja spirit of togetherness, drives the success of the business community.
What unique characteristics and advantages does Tanzania's startup scene offer?
Tanzania has a lot of untapped opportunities to take advantage of especially since it is under the radar of the global startup community. The country's population of over 67 million people, rapidly growing cities like Dar es Salaam and its strategic location bordered by the Indian Ocean, as well as the vast freshwater resources of Lake Victoria to the north, Lake Tanganyika to the west and Lake Nyasa (Lake Malawi) to the southwest, make it an attractive place to do business. These features also make Tanzania a suitable market to test validation for both product-to-market fit and scalable market opportunities for adaptation across multiple African countries with similar characteristics.
Tanzania’s young population is eager to learn and adapt, and this contributes to the vibrant, moldable, startup ecosystem we’re seeing. Success in the Tanzanian context is tied to understanding and aligning with the local culture and people. For example, thriving businesses can be found in a wide variety of locations, catering to a wide range of income brackets. Due to Tanzania's background as a socialist state and its community-focused culture, business requires a collaborative, courteous approach. Understanding the local demographics and building partnerships with them is key.
Tanzania is known for its safety and peaceful environment, which can provide a secure foundation for startups to operate.
What are the most common obstacles that Tanzanian startups face?
Funding is a major obstacle for Tanzanian founders as well as the lack of systems to support business growth and help entrepreneurs scale their businesses. Despite ongoing capacity-building efforts, there is a shortage of technical assistance and systems in place to assist entrepreneurs in becoming investor-ready or taking their businesses to the next level. Additionally, there are bureaucratic processes and red tape that can slow down progress.
Entrepreneurs often rely on cash injections from friends and family rather than formal institutions to address funding challenges. However, they lack guidance on how to optimize these resources and are not able to use their funds wisely to achieve business growth.
In the context of Tanzania's startup ecosystem, what role do young people – and young women in particular – play in shaping the future of the country's entrepreneurship and innovation landscape?
The youth, comprising over 60% of Tanzania's population, have a significant role in shaping the economic future of the country. With rapidly growing cities and a tech-savvy mindset, young people are at the forefront of digital adaptation. The increasing number of internet users reflects this positive trend. This shift towards digital adaptation highlights the need for more tech-enabled businesses.
Women contribute significantly to nurturing businesses and play a crucial role in decision-making processes. Moreover, with over 50% of the population being women, there will be a growing demand for products and services that cater to their specific needs.
Could you please provide us insight into your journey in the investment sector?
I majored in finance in the U.S. where I developed a strong interest in the field. I started my career in financial services, focusing on financing small businesses, entrepreneurs and investment properties, especially in commercial real estate. Later, I worked at Goldman Sachs in their private wealth management division. After that, I gained valuable experience in management consulting at one of the Big 4 accounting firms in Tanzania, across various industries. This gave me a comprehensive understanding of the Tanzanian landscape and reinforced my desire to work in investments.
Renew Capital is an Africa-focused impact investment firm that backs innovative companies with high-growth potential. Renew Capital manages investments made on behalf of the Renew Capital Angels, a global network of angel investors, foundations and family offices who seek financial returns and sustainable social impact. For the latest on investing in Africa, subscribe and follow us at our social links below.