Forging Ahead In The Creation Of A Vibrant Innovation Ecosystem
Greetings FUNGUO Family!
We hope this message finds you in high spirits! The past two months have been nothing short of a whirlwind here at FUNGUO, reminding us of the old adage, "when it rains, it pours!" We've been buzzing with excitement, and we can't wait to share all the incredible happenings with you.
In August, we set the stage on fire with our Youth Month celebrations, putting the spotlight on the extraordinary work of our investees in the youth sector thanks to the unwavering support of key partners like the European Union and British High Commission the UNDP's FUNGUO Innovation Programme. We shone bright at events like the Startups Investor Tradeshow and the Tanzania Hubs Network Online Meetup, making waves in the innovation ecosystem.
September was a month of milestones as we joined in the launch of the Rising Woman Online Platform by Mwananchi Communications. Teaming up with Breakthrough Attorneys, we delved deep into the 2023 Finance Act’s impact on Startups and MSMEs in Tanzania during a stimulating breakfast session. Ventures supported by Stanbic Biashara Incubator, PesaTech, and FUNGUO joined the conversation, making it an enlightening experience for everyone involved.
But what had our team burning the midnight oil was the meticulous review and selection process for FUNGUO’s Second Funding Round. The competition was fierce, and in this newsletter, we offer you an exclusive glimpse into the heart of this highly competitive process. In the coming weeks, get ready to meet the promising ventures that emerged out of the process – we promise, it's worth the suspense!
For the inside scoop on all the exhilarating activities that have kept us on our toes, plunge into the content below. And don’t forget to keep an eye out for more thrilling updates coming your way soon!
The FUNGUO Team!
How Smartcore Is Empowering Youth For A Better Tomorrow
International Youth Week was officially commemorated on the 12th of August 2023, however, we at FUNGUO, took this opportunity to shine a spotlight on the numerous investees that have been, and continue to, work tirelessly to empower youth. Among these is FUNGUO investee; Smartcore.
Located in Arusha, Tanzania, and Hong Kong, China, Smartcore is a digital learning company is dedicated to increasing access to high-quality and pertinent secondary and vocational education for youth in Africa and beyond. Simultaneously, they provide real-time digital education data to various stakeholders in the education sector. Moreover, their approach reduces the cost and time associated with establishing e-Learning infrastructure by offering readily available, rigorously tested, and individually tailored e-Learning solutions.
Driven by a passion for change, Smartcore goes beyond creating an impact in the lives of young learners. Instead, it extends further into preparing the youth for life in general, and empowering them to become informed, responsible, and compassionate global citizens. George AkiliMali, the Founder of Smartcore, emphasizes their commitment, stating that, "Smartcore equips students with future-ready skills and critical thinking, empowering them to tackle real-world challenges and contribute actively to society. Our collaborative learning environment fosters teamwork, communication, and empathy, nurturing well-rounded individuals who embrace diversity and work effectively with others. We are committed to inclusive education, ensuring equal access to quality learning for all students, promoting social equity, and reducing educational disparities."
Reinforcing The Importance of Innovation Financing:
FUNGUO Participates In The 2023 Startup Investors Tradeshow
In 2022, East Africa saw a total venture capital investment of $1.2 billion, with only $80 million directed towards Tanzanian startups. But, the Tanzanian innovation ecosystem, decided to do something about it.
The first was a successful Startup Investor Tradeshow with the theme: 'Fuelling Tanzanian Startups' Success: An Investor Showcase.' This event, held on the 22nd of August 2023, had a fresh approach where investors took to the stage, to pitch their game-changing investment prospects directly to entrepreneurs, startups, and business owners. The goal of this was to provide entrepreneurs (and innovation hubs and centres) with access to a wider pool of investment opportunities and allow investors to connect with promising startups and businesses.
The event offered a one of a kind opportunity for entrepreneurs to network with potential investors based on relevance and for investors to showcase their investment opportunities to a better informed audience.
Unpacking The Tanzania Finance Act For Startups and SMEs
At FUNGUO, we are and continue to be, fully dedicated to creating and nurturing a thriving environment for startups and micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs). This unwavering commitment revolves around providing policy insights, fostering strategic dialogues, and actively promoting engagement within the innovation ecosystem. We strive to disseminate knowledge and forge invaluable connections.
On the 25th of August we hosted an insightful breakfast session for more than 40 startups, focused on the theme of 'Navigating Change: Deciphering the Tanzania Finance Act 2023 for Startups and SMEs.' This collaborative effort brought together UNCDF, Breakthrough Attorneys, and Stanbic Bank.
During this session, we dove deep into the substantial revisions within the Finance Act, shedding light on compliance requirements and the latest adjustments in tax rates that demand the attention of every business.
A Call Well Done!
17 Startups Selected For FUNGUO’s Second Call For Funding!
On May 30, 2023, the UNDP's FUNGUO Innovation Programme unveiled its Second Funding Call, which aimed to identify the next cohort of impact-driven startups and innovative SMEs to augment its portfolio. This call was directed towards legally registered impact-driven startups and scalable innovative SMEs, with a preference for those predominantly owned by Tanzanians. In a concerted effort to encourage and champion women innovators and entrepreneurs, at least 30% of the available funds for this round were exclusively earmarked for ventures either founded or led by women.
During this call, FUNGUO also accommodated startups that had not yet completed their incorporation as formal companies but were registered under business names. The stipulation was that if they qualified, they would need to finalize their incorporation before receiving the grant. This adjustment was made based on feedback received after the initial funding round.
The response to this call was nothing short of overwhelming, attributed to the team's assertive yet strategically designed outreach plan. A total of 830 individuals registered and attempted to submit applications, highlighting the significant interest among Tanzanian entrepreneurs. Of all the registered applications, 132 were deemed ineligible, and 342 applications were either incomplete or failed to meet the submission deadline. Nevertheless, the program received 356 completed and submitted applications.
The next step was the Initial Review Process. This stage aimed to thoroughly assess and verify the information provided by these applicants. Once completed, 30 shortlisted applicants proceeded to an Advanced Review Stage that included physical visits. The visits involved in-depth evaluations of key details, interviews with key personnel, on-site visits for physical verification, and authentication of registration and compliance documents. Through this process, UNDP ascertained the accuracy and credibility of the applications, ensuring that they aligned with the technical criteria of Innovation, Business Viability & Potential to Scale, Team & Management, and Development Impact.
FUNGUO advanced the approved applications to the Investment Committee, which concluded the Second Call for Funding Applications by officially selecting 17 innovative impact ventures that will soon receive approximately $500,000 in funding.
Onwards And Upwards:
FUNGUO Investees Attend The Africa Food Systems Summit 2023 (ARGF)
First, UjuziNet introduced the world to their groundbreaking platform, MazaoHub! This dynamic tool delivers vital reports and analytics for the agricultural sector, meticulously tracking every facet of farm activities, from production to inventory and finances. MazaoHub equips farmers, investors, and government agencies with real-time insights, enabling them to make savvy decisions that drive success in agriculture.
Then, Plant Biodefenders showcased their pioneering microbial-based innovation, Vuruga Biocide, designed to revolutionize agriculture in Africa. Vuruga Biocide is a fungal-based formulation biopesticide designed to control a range of destructive pests, including fall armyworms, tomato leafminers, African bollworms, caterpillars, and aphids.
Last but not least, KCG Acquatec Fish Farming Ltd used the platform to forge new business deals and secure commitments. It was the place where agricultural and agribusiness companies like KCG Acquatec Fish Farming Ltd could connect with opportunities for financing, mentorship, and market entry solutions to supercharge their growth journey.
The Africa Food Systems Forum (AGRF) is the world's premier forum for African agriculture and food systems, bringing together stakeholders to take practical actions and share lessons that will move African food systems forward. This year’s theme, “Recover, Regenerate, Act: Africa’s Solutions to Food Systems Transformation,” focused on building back better food systems and food sovereignty with youth and women at the center.
Fixchap’s Mission To Revolutionize Tanzania’s Access To Clean Water:
The Launch Of The ECOFILTER!
FUNGUO investee Fixchap just introduced something truly innovative: The Ecofilter! This smart invention addresses important challenges in Tanzanian households - access to clean water.
ECOFILTER, is a natural filter that operates without electricity, it is powered by gravity, has a capacity of 22 litres and a filtration rate of 2 litres per hour and lasts for 2 years. ECOFILTER is certified by local and international regulatory authorities and removes microbiological contaminants while retaining essential minerals, its a globally recognized product with certification from both local and international regulatory authorities.
“The Tanzania-EU Business Forum was a great platform for the initiation of the ECOFILTER partnership,” said Prince Tillya, Fixchap’s Co-founder and Team Lead, “there, FixChap was able to participate as an investee of the FUNGUO Innovation Programme. During the forum we were able to meet with the international partner for Ecofilter who were looking for relevant partners to bring ECOFLTER in Africa particularly East Africa. This was the beginning of a discussion and later a working relationship where FixChap has now onboarded Ecofilter as one of its first flagship product on the home product category.”
The launch of ECOFILTER stems from Fixchap’s commitment to understanding and solutioning the unique challenges faced by Tanzanian homeowners as they strive to be an all-round home solutions while providing descent jobs and income to their network of service providers!
Awards, Nominations and Features!
In our monthly spotlight on awards, nominations, and notable features, we turn our attention to FUNGUO investee; Sheria Kiganjani — an innovative business dedicated to leveraging technology for improved access to legal services. Through their app, Sheria Kiganjani empowers low- and middle-income earners to access justice efficiently and affordably.
This month, Sheria Kiganjani achieved a significant milestone by receiving the prestigious African Legal Award 2023 for 'Best Use of Technology in Africa.' This recognition underscores the company's commitment to innovation and its relentless pursuit of excellence.
Remarkably, this marks Sheria Kiganjani's second win of the continental award, having previously secured it in 2019. At a ceremony held in Johannesburg, attended by over 1500 legal professionals from across Africa, Sheria Kiganjani proudly dedicated their victory to their beloved home country, Tanzania.
But that’s not all, Microsoft-backed FAST Accelerator recently announced that 12 African startups, including FUNGUO investee KCG Acquatec, had just been selected for the second cohort of the Artificial Intelligence (AI) Program. The AI-focused accelerator brings together African startups to Silicon Valley to jumpstart technology innovation. The FAST Accelerator, created in partnership with Microsoft to help strengthen and scale Africa's digital ecosystem, started with a 2-week Online Bootcamp, which saw 60+ tech companies participate in an intensive online training with experienced mentors, FAST Accelerator's cohort of 12 startups will progress to a 5-week acceleration experience in Silicon Valley, California starting in October.
Alongside this, 10 Tanzanian startups, including FUNGUO’s Rosho Tanzania and KCG Acquatec, were selected to participate in the DeveloPPP Ventures Pitch Event! The innovative companies would have the potential to make a positive impact and drive social and environmental sustainability in Tanzania.
Topping it all off is Rosho Tanzania, a gourmet nut butter manufacturer offering a diverse selection of nutritious organic nut butters crafted from premium ingredients. Rosho Tanzania garnered recent acclaim in Forbes for their outstanding innovation. This recognition underscores their unmistakable commitment to innovation and their unwavering journey toward scalability and meaningful impact. Read the feature article here: From Raw To Reward: Bringing Cashew Butter To Stores In Tanzania - Forbes Africa
The WFP IGNITE SEED Innovation Challenge is back for its second edition! This program supports entrepreneurial teams with research-backed ideas focused on revolutionizing food systems. Don't miss this chance to receive market validation and training to bring your innovative ideas to life! Apply here: WFP Ignite Seed Innovation Application.Application Deadline: 9th October 2023.
Have you heard about the SAIS Investment Readiness Program 2024!
The SAIS Investment Readiness Programme 2024 (IRP) offers you a yearlong, tailor-made support programme to raise investments and scale up your business! Precondition is that your tech startup registered in Africa, works in Africa, and offers scalable, market-based solutions for agriculture, food or climate change. Apply here: SAIS Investment Readiness Program. Application Deadline: 20th October 2023.
Enabel’s TCD Announces Two Calls For Applications!
Are you an African MSME or producers’ organisation active in the cocoa, coffee or cashew sector? Are you looking to strengthen your management skills and sustainability? Well, Enabel’s TDC is launching TWO calls that might be interesting for your organisation: The call for applications (coaching) aims to strengthen management skills (marketing, sales, finance, operations) and sustainability (climate resilience, biodiversity, human rights, environment, etc.) and The call for proposals (grants) aims to support the implementation of a strategy and/or action plan in terms of sustainability and compliance with European rules. You can apply for one or both calls here: https://lnkd.in/ehq_5Qb6 and here: https://lnkd.in/e8MsCNzN. Application Deadline: 27th November 2023.
The Fund for Innovation in Development is accepting applications!
The Fund for Innovation in Development (FID) aims to support promising ideas with high potential for impact against poverty and inequality, rigorously evaluate their effectiveness and accelerate their deployment on a larger scale. FID finances innovative initiatives including research institutions, NGOs, governments, companies, etc. Apply here: Fund for Innovation in Development.Application Deadline: On rolling basis.
Development Innovation Ventures is looking for innovators just like you!
Development Innovation Ventures (DIV) is USAID’s open innovation program that funds breakthrough solutions to the world's toughest development challenges. By funding innovation and focusing on rigorous evidence, DIV impacts millions of lives at a fraction of the usual cost. Apply here: Development Innovation Ventures Application.Deadline: DIV is open year-round for applications from a diverse range of entities.
Look Out For These Upcoming Events!
Don’t miss the Women and Digital Marketplace Event
Being held at the University of Dar es Salaam on the 6th of October 2023 will be the The Women and Digital Marketplace Event! This is a platform that will bring together women to share their experiences with social networks, and be connected with service providers and digital opportunities.
Sahara Sparks 2023!
Sahara Sparks is back! Looking to be held at the National Museum from the 13th -15th of 2023, the expo will provide a platform for start-ups to showcase their innovative products, services, and solutions in the digital space. It will also will feature a dedicated Investor Lounge area, where start-ups can interact with potential investors and pitch their ideas.
Be sure to attend the Tanzania Annual ICT Conference 2023!
The Tanzania Annual ICT Conference (TAIC) is the biggest ICT sector event in Tanzania organised annually by the ICT Commission (ICTC). The conference aims to call the attention of all stakeholders through discussion and knowledge sharing on matters related to policy, research, and innovation. The 07th Tanzania Annual ICT Conference 2023 (TAIC 2023) will be held at the Julius Nyerere International Conference Centre (JNICC). TAIC 2023 will have pre-conference events of Women and Youth in ICT open to the public and will be held on 16th and 17th October 2023 respectively. The main TAIC 2023 will be held from 18th to 20th October 2023.
6th Innovation and Tech Forum and Startup Expo!
Make sure to mark your calendars for the upcoming 6th Innovation and Tech Forum, which will be held jointly with FUNGUO's unveiling of its new group of investees and a captivating display of the ground-breaking achievements of their past recipients! Save the Date: October 2023.
It is with a heavy heart that we share the news of the unexpected loss of our esteemed colleague, Erasmus Anselim Marupa, on August 26th. Erasmus held the vital role of Innovation Technical Assistance Lead, and made invaluable contributions to our Funguo project. May his soul rest in eternal peace. Our heartfelt sympathies and thoughts are with his family and friends during this challenging time.
“You were a true friend and dedicated colleague, your memory will forever be a part of our team.” UNDP Team.
FUNGUO is a UNDP Initiative funded by the European Union as part of the “Business Environment, Growth and Innovation” (BEGIN) Programme. Other funders include UNDP itself and the UK Government through the Africa Technology and Innovation Partnership (ATIP) Programme. FUNGUO aims to increase the number of successfully scaled innovative ventures. It does so by addressing the challenges and gaps in the innovation ecosystem that hinder the scaling of innovative impact ventures, while fostering an environment that supports innovation for development and empowers innovators, entrepreneurs, and enablers.
We are grateful for your support and commitment to our mission. We hope that the stories and updates in this newsletter inspire you to continue exploring innovative solutions to some of the most pressing challenges facing our world today.
The FUNGUO Innovation Programme Team.
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