The Vodacom Digital Accelerator program that began early September last year has been a fantastic journey for startups and all corporates. In partnership with Vodacom Tanzania, Smart Lab made it a mission to ensure that startups learn and grow as much as possible throughout the accelerator program. Vodacom Digital Accelerator being among the most impactful local accelerators, has shaped startups for almost a year. Smart Lab and Vodacom believe that the investments made and resources provided will bring a significant change to the growing tech businesses.
Despite it being a conducive process, we are sad and delighted to say that the program has reached the finish line. Now, Vodacom Tanzania and Smart Lab are excited to have picked the top startups entering the validation phase. These startups will be provided with technical and marketing support to ensure maximum success. 18th August 2020 marked the end of the program and the beginning of a new journey for both the selected best startups and the rest of the startups in the program. The Vodacom Digital Accelerator Demo day event has been a platform for startups to pitch their revolutionary ideas. Though it was a physical event, we could not accommodate a large number of people due to COVID-19 restrictions. However, people were able to view the event online on our YouTube and Facebook pages.
Startups have been very participative. We were happy with the large number of applications, which were over 500 startups. This shows the growth of the Innovation Ecosystem in Tanzania. We had many mentors and coaches who conducted insightful workshops, boot camp, and training sessions during the program that significantly impacted the startups' growth. Through their journey, there has been significant change and growth depicted in their operations, revenue, customers, and finances. "The Vodacom accelerator program was an incredible opportunity for young entrepreneurs; it offered us tailored learning experiences to grow our businesses to world-class standards. Most importantly, they gave us the reach to the pool of world-class investors and mentors that wouldn't be possible without this program," said Salvatory Kessy, the Smart class founder.
Mansura Mtibora, Co-founder of Ninsiima e-Dispensary, also shared her experience on the Vodacom Digital Accelerator program. "It's from Vodacom Digital Accelerator and the knowledge gained there; we manage to strategize our marketing approach and start paying a visit to different media houses. Mentorship from the program helps us develop many useful documents, which also take us to another milestone, as the document helped us apply to different programs. We have been qualifying to be part of the programs, such as The Future is Female Mentorship Program. We have much appreciation for this. The whole Ninsiima and Ninsiima eDispensary team thanks to the exceptional mentors, Smart Lab, and Vodacom. They have taken Ninsiima eDispensary to another level. It could be my wish for every startup in Tanzania and Africa at large to get a chance to be part of an initiative like Vodacom Digital Accelerator". She explained.
And from Beltro (a data analytics company giving companies insights to better understand their consumers) Frederick Apina, the founder of Beltro "When we heard about Vodacom Accelerator, we were inspired to be part of it. We saw our participation in the Vodacom Accelerator to bring growth and development potential to our startup. Belltro has benefited from the knowledge, insight, and business opportunities made available by the program. Participation in the accelerator has been a fantastic experience! It has given us an additional energy boost and driven us to think in new ways."
Among the key mentors in the Vodacom Digital Accelerator, one of the most successful entrepreneurs Edwin Bruno CEO and founder of Smart Codes had this to say about the program; "We can not thank Vodacom Tanzania enough for playing a big part in pioneering technological advances in Tanzania but mostly for partnering with us in ensuring that we support startups in Tanzania who are coming up with brilliant tech solutions that will transform our nation. Smart Lab hopes to keep bridging the gap between startups and large corporations but mostly nurturing startups in Tanzania and Africa in general. We want to thank the startups that worked hard to be part of the program showing much growth and congratulate today's winners."
Our competition to find a budding innovator ‘Vodacom Digital Accelerator’ ended well, with Smart Class (https://www.smartclass-tz.com/) emerging winners, with a vision to take Tanzania into the digital world followed by Hashtag Pools as the first runner up and Ninsiima eDispensary (https://ninsiimatz.wixsite.com/edispensary) and MyHi (https://www.myhi.co.tz/) as the second runner ups, this competition is very important because it gives opportunities to our young people.
Vodacom's Accelerator Program Tanzania has set a massive example for corporate companies' participation in the innovation ecosystem. It's a call for all innovators, entrepreneurs, and technologists to push for this kind of initiative that will transform the Tanzanian society by creating groundbreaking solutions, solving the growing unemployment problem in the country, and contributing to the economy.
We were happy to hear startups pitch their ideas and had many people tune in to witness innovative companies make their mark in Africa. Smart Lab and Vodacom Tanzania are among the most significant pioneers of Technological growth in the country. They hope to keep being the catalyst for technological advancement and impactful partnerships among stakeholders of the innovation ecosystem.
Smart Lab is an innovation platform that links learning institutions with corporate partners to empower groundbreaking solutions that will impact communities.