Partnering for Innovation and Beyond: FUNGUO in April


Welcome everyone to another issue of the Funguo Newsletter! April was an exceptional month for us here at Funguo, and to say that it was all hands-on deck, would be an understatement. This month we celebrated Innovation Week Tanzania 2023, a time dedicated to embracing innovation and creativity. The week-long event was filled with exciting activities, exhibitions, meetings, and thought-provoking discussions that all centred around innovation. The ecosystem came together to share perspectives, collaborate on new projects, and explore the latest trends in technology, innovation, and beyond.

As always, we couldn't resist the opportunity to join in on the fun. Our team brainstormed and suggested ways in which we could also play our part in making the innovation week a success.  Amongst other events, we also held the 5th Innovation and Tech Forum where during this exciting event, Funguo brought together some of the brightest minds in our industry to exchange ideas, share insights, and collaborate on some of the most pressing challenges facing our country today; policy making. It was a time to challenge the status quo, to explore new possibilities, and ignite the spark of innovative policy making in all of us. It went better than expected! So, as we reflect on the success of the Innovation and Tech Forum, we can't help but feel energized and inspired to continue pushing the limits of what's possible now, and in the future. So, without further ado, let's dive into the highlights of the month and explore how we can continue to drive innovation towards a better tomorrow.

Innovation Week Tanzania 2023:  

Building a Competitive Economy Through Innovation  

Innovation Week is a national event that celebrates new ideas and ground-breaking technologies and this year it took place from April 24th to April 28th, 2023, under the theme "Innovation for a Competitive Economy." With the rapid pace of technological advancement, innovation is becoming increasingly critical to economic growth and development. The event provided a space for individuals and organizations to explore the ways in which innovation can be harnessed to promote economic competitiveness.

In addition to this, this year's event was particularly noteworthy for the participation of eight exciting startups under the Funguo Innovation Program.These enterprising startups, including ShuleYetu, Sheria Kiganjani, Mtabe, SomaBags, EcoAct, Plant Biodefenders, Niajiri, and Tanzania International Bee Ltd, took full advantage of the opportunity to display their innovative solutions and products at the Innovation WeekExhibition held in Dodoma. Visitors to the exhibition were treated to demonstrations of the startups' products, as well as interactive presentations that allowed for deeper engagement with their innovative solutions.

Beyond just showcasing their products, the startups also benefited from the opportunity to connect with a wider network of stakeholders and investors in the innovation ecosystem.Their participation became a testament to the strength and diversity ofTanzania's startup scene.

Innovating Policy Making

A Forward-Looking and Integrated Approach to Policymaking in the Digital Age

As the conversation around innovation and technology continues, we must admit that the pace of technological change has never been faster, and it is transforming every aspect of our lives, from the way we work, to the way we communicate and access information. In Tanzania, as in many other countries, this digital transformation is driving the need for innovative policy making to keep up with the rapidly changing landscape of the digital age. From this, Funguo recognized the need for the long overdue discussion on the critical role of progressive and forward-looking policies in shaping the national economy as Tanzania undergoes rapid digital transformation, and held the 5th Innovation and Tech Forum, under the theme “Innovating Policy Making - A Forward-Looking and Integrated Approach to Policymaking in the Digital Age.

"It’s high time we have this conversation.” said Christine Musisi, Resident Representative of UNDP Tanzania, in her opening remarks. “As the country undergoes a rapid digital transformation, the need for agile and innovative policy making has never been more pressing. That is why we are advocating for a more innovative approach to policy making – one that takes into account the rapidly changing development needs of Tanzania and embraces and leverages the potential of emerging technologies.”

An in-depth panel discussion then followed, with representatives from United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF), Bank of Tanzania, Tanzania Legal Services Facility, Breakthrough Attorneys, and Innovation Hub255 deliberating ways to disrupt the status quo, and find ways of embracing innovation in policymaking.

“I urge policy makers to balance the need for timely decision making, with access to the latest research and evidence to inform their decisions.” said Hon. Eng. Kundo “In addition to this, when making policy, stakeholder engagement is of the utmost importance.” He added.

Joining Forces for Startup Success:

Funguo and Stanbic Biashara Incubator Collaborate for Impact

It's all about partnerships, and that’s why, on the 14th ofApril 2023, UNDP Tanzania and Stanbic Bank Tanzania teamed up to solidify a partnership that would help foster innovation and entrepreneurship in Tanzania.The two formed a strategic alliance that would give Tanzanian startups andMSMEs better access to capital and business development services.

The partnership, through FunguoTanzania and Stanbic Biashara Incubator, agreed to partner so as to improve the quality of business development services offered by different providers and innovation enablers to youth and women-led startups and early-stage businesses. This meant that, going forward, the two initiatives would commit to providing technical assistance, linkages, and exposure to potential investors to increase the chances of these MSMEs and startups accessing diverse sources of capital.

Navigating the World of Funding:

Funguo and Stanbic's Workshop for Entrepreneurs

As the saying goes, “if you want to go fast, go alone; but if you want to go far, go together”. This is the premise over which the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and Stanbic Bank Tanzania decided to join efforts in order to go far in catalyzing the Tanzanian innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem. It is also in the spirit of Goal 17 of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

The first joint activity under this UNDP-Stanbic collaboration will be a 2-day workshop on “Fundamentals of Capital Raising Startups and Early-Stage Businesses”. This had been one of the most highly demanded services by FUNGUO Investees and other startups and early-stage businesses in general that were looking to raise funds now or in future.

The event took place on the 13th and 14th of April, with experts such as Mr. Salum Awadh, the CEO of SSC Capital, Mr. Stephen Mpuya, the Head of Personalization and Ms. Doxa Mbapila – Partner at ENDOXA Law, leading sessions in venture capital, private equity and angel investing, negotiation strategies, banking, and debt financing respectively.

Revolutionizing Sustainable Agriculture in Tanzania:

DeveloPPP Adds Funguo Investee Plant Biodefenders to Its Portfolio

Plant Biodefenders is a startup that is in the biopesticide industry and uses revolutionary farming approach that harnesses the power of plants to protect themselves against pests and diseases.Based in Tanzania, Plant Biodefenders is dedicated to promoting sustainable agriculture and reducing the use of harmful pesticides and herbicides.

Their approach involves using natural plant defenses to strengthen crop immunity, making them more resistant to pests and diseases. This results in healthier and more resilient crops that are free from harmful chemicals and safe for human consumption. They work closely with farmers to provide training on plant defense techniques and promote sustainable farming practices.

One of Plant Biodefenders' key initiatives is their partnership with local farmers to promote the use of neem  tree extracts as a natural pesticide. Neem trees have natural insect-repelling properties, and their extracts can be used to protect crops from a wide range of pests. By promoting the use of neem tree extracts, Plant Biodefenders is reducing the use of harmful chemicals and promoting sustainable agriculture inTanzania. For their innovation, Plant Biodefenders was recently added to the DeveloPPP Portfolio with 100,000 Euro funding.

Ecosystem News and Developments

Funding Opportunities for Startups

  • The CookFund Programme is calling all clean cooking solution proposals!

UNCDF and Government ofTanzania are calling for proposals for the Cook Fund programme to accelerate the market roll-out of clean cooking solutions inTanzania. The CookFund Programme, funded by the European Union (EU), is a three-year programme (2022 – 2024) that seeks to accelerate market rollout of clean cooking solution in Tanzania mainland, targeting five regions namely Dares Salaam, Pwani, Morogoro, Dodoma and Mwanza. Apply now on

  • EEP Africa is inviting innovative early-stage clean energy project proposals!

EEP Africa is encouraging applications for innovative early-stage clean energy projects that are in the active development phase. EEP Africa provides early-stage grant financing for locally driven innovative clean energy projects, technologies, and business and delivery models in Southern and EastAfrica. Apply now on

Look out for these Upcoming Ecosystem Events!

  • Funguo about to Launch of its Second CallFunding - 2023

Are you an impact-driven Tanzanian startup with a scalable business? Stay tuned for the 2nd call for funding this coming May 2023, thanks to the European Union financial support.

  • Science, Technology and Innovation Conference and Exhibitions (STICE 2023)

The Commission Of Science And Technology (COSTECH) will be hosting the 8th Annual Science, Technology and Innovation Conference and Exhibitions from 14th to 16th June 2023 at JNICC, Dar es Salaam.

The Funguo Innovation Programme 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 through the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO). The programme is implemented by UNDP Tanzania in partnership with UNCDF and works in close collaboration with the Tanzania Commission for Science and Technology (COSTECH), the ICT Commission and various other partners.

FUNGUO works to create a foundation for, and unlock the potential of, Tanzanian innovators to establish scalable start-ups capable of attracting impact and commercial investments.

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 Program Team.