On September 30th 2022, Vodacom Tanzania and Smart Lab revealed the top 13 technology startups joining the acceleration program at an event held at the Serena Hotel in Dar es Salaam. The "Vodacom Digital Accelerator Season 2" acceleration phase officially began with the announcement, which included startups from the fintech, health, e-commerce, education, agriculture, and cybersecurity industries.
In April 2022, the Vodacom Digital Accelerator Season 2 opened applications to all Tanzanian tech startups with creative solutions with the potential to scale. A media and hub tour of 7 Tanzanian regions, including Arusha, Moshi, Mwanza, Dodoma, Zanzibar, Mbeya, and Iringa, was then conducted to raise awareness of the program and engage innovators from across Tanzania. The Vodacom Digital Accelerator team chose 13 startups that will proceed to the acceleration phase following a two-month application window and one month of application analysis.
Over 200 startups applied to the Vodacom Digital Accelerator program, demonstrating the appetite for startup growth and corporate-startup partnerships. Of these, the education sector accounted for 8% of applications, e-commerce 11%, agriculture 12%, fintech 6%, health 5%, cyber security 4% and entertainment 5%. The program received applications from 18 regions in Tanzania, including Kigoma, Njombe, Bukoba and Mwanza.
“Congratulations to the 13 startups participating in the acceleration program.”
Mr Nguvu Kamando, Director of Digital & Value Added Services (VAS) from Vodacom Tanzania, spoke at the occasion; "I extend my sincere congratulations to the 13 startups participating in the acceleration program. I am proud to say that Vodacom is again a part of this fantastic initiative to support entrepreneurs in the nation. They will be mentored by Vodacom, Smart Africa Group, and other business leaders from various industries over the next three months. They will also get other technology and marketing assistance to start and develop their startups. I am confident they will make the most of these resources because the program's success depends on their advancement after it is over."
After three months of product development and acceleration, three top startups will move into a validation phase that will last another three months. During this phase, they will receive additional assistance in developing their marketing strategies, technical aspects, and connections with potential investors and partners.
The selected startups going through the acceleration phase are Shule Yetu Innovations, Smart Darasa, Lango Academy, and VijanaTech, under Edutech. Hack it Consultancy representing the cyber security space. Seto, Twenzao, Get Value and Spidi Africa under the e-Commerce banner. Others are Dawa Mkononi and Medpack representing Healthtech, and finally, BizyTech and Bizzy Pay on the Fintech side.
The following are all the 13 selected startups and their solutions.
A pharmaceutical company that uses technology to improve services. More specifically, they provide a platform that facilitates the wholesale delivery of medication /drugs to healthcare facilities. The company seeks to deliver convenient and safe value. It has multiple payment options for pharmacies, ADDOs and healthcare facilities to procure medications easily—targeting B2B: pharmacies, ADDOs and healthcare facilities.
A carpooling application connects private car owners and passengers conveniently through a mobile app. The prices remain competitive because Twenzao uses similar rates to the ones used by public buses, and there are several safety mechanisms on Twenzao. The company aims to solve the insufficient public transport system in Tanzania and the Untrustworthy middleman in the transport industry.
Seto is a data-driven technology that operates an online marketplace for lodging and real estate, primarily in short-stay, for-sale and rental categories, with an inbuilt reservation engine and automatic search algorithm. The company plans to reduce hardship by discovering nearby short-stays available at a given time, i.e. Apartments, Lodges, Hostels, Hostels, etc.
Shule Yetu Innovation
The school management system and e-learning platform aim to solve the problem of paper-based mechanisms, a complicated payment ecosystem, insufficient school record management, inconsistent academic histories of students, and, most importantly, inefficient cash collection mechanisms.
Medpack is a Tanzanian registered digital health company dedicated to solving health challenges using technology and digital devices for community development. MedPack provides an online Pharmacy (website and Mobile App) for doctors, pharmacists, caregivers, and Patients to order and buy medication and other pharmaceutical items online from trusted pharmacies. We do quick delivery to the doorstep.
Lango Academy is an Online Platform where African Youths learn & teach money-making Entrepreneurship Skills, Through Recorded Courses & Live Classes. The company aims to solve unemployment issues and encourage young people to employ themselves.
VijanaTech is an award-winning social enterprise that supports youth with capacity building, skills development, and mentorship. Through its activities (Online Courses/Sessions & Physical Training), the initiative helps youth recognize the diverse opportunities available in the digital economy and cultivates the skills and confidence to take advantage of those possibilities.
SmartDarasa app is a platform helps students understand the reality and practicality of things they learn in STEM subjects, and this is through the app and website that utilize 3D & AR technology. The company came up with this idea after realizing a big gap between theoretical knowledge taught in class, and practical knowledge in STEM subjects caused by the scarcity of laboratories and insufficient laboratory tools to provide a reality and practical understanding of concepts learned in class.
SPIDI enables Businesses, Shops, Service Providers and Home based entrepreneurs to do what they do best – sell digitally to customers they previously would not have access to. We enable them by digitizing their businesses and providing access to a marketplace of customers ready to buy their products and use their services. We envision transforming access to essential goods, food and services across Tanzania.
A Global Online Digital Products Retailer (Audio Books & E-Books). Get Value uses internet tools to quickly and efficiently target specific potential customers, providing them with easy product selection and an easy way to purchase and enjoy instant product delivery. Access to the online market for authors
They assist companies in proactively identifying gaps within their IT infrastructure and better aligning to their cyber security practices and team building. People are the critical firewall for any organization, commonly known as the "human firewall". We provide capacity-building services to ensure a more security-aware culture is adopted in the organization and have everyone noting cybercriminal tactics and techniques before they impact the organization.
“We would like to express our gratitude to Vodacom Tanzania for realizing the importance of developing the next wave of success tales for African business people operating in Tanzania."
Mr Edwin Bruno, the CEO of Smart Africa Group and a partner at Smart Lab, expressed his enthusiasm for season 2 of the program, saying, "We are thrilled to participate in the Vodacom Accelerator Season 2. Along with Vodacom, we hope to build a platform for tech-savvy people to build their brands and demonstrate that Tanzanian youth can compete not only on the continent but also globally in technology entrepreneurship. Once more, we would like to express our gratitude to Vodacom Tanzania for realizing the importance of developing the next wave of success tales for African businesspeople operating in Tanzania."
In a related development, Vodacom Tanzania and Smartlab announced a new partnership to encourage and empower girls in STEM fields, where the Vodacom Digital Accelerator will combine with the Vodacom Code Like A Girl initiative. Selected alumnis from the latter program will participate in VDA Season 2 to learn from the 13 startups themselves and the experienced mentors through mentorship sessions. They will work closely with the startups as they develop their products.
The Code Like a Girl program teaches young girls about coding and digital literacy to close the significant gender gap in the tech/innovation ecosystem.
Intending to foster more startup success stories from the Tanzania ecosystem, Tanzania's top telco launched the Vodacom Digital Accelerator Program in 2019 in collaboration with Smart Lab, the leading startup accelerator and innovation lab. The program's first season was a success, as it saw 15 startups go through the acceleration phase and produce four winners. To name a couple, Ninsiima e-Dispensary (Healthtech) and MyHI (Healthtech), both of which are currently receiving additional support from Smart Lab to develop their products and generate income. With this program, Vodacom is advancing its vision to use technology to better people's lives and bring Tanzania into the digital era.