Pitching for change at the dLab Accelerator Virtual Demo Day
It takes a lot to launch and sustain a startup. And in light of the Covid-19 pandemic, building a robust startup ecosystem in Tanzania by supporting individual companies, is of paramount importance.
Launched in January 2021, The dLab Accelerator worked with Tanzanian startups that are addressing social issues through technology. The eight-week intensive program helped tech founders enhance their venture’s value proposition by exploring product market fit opportunities, and to position their ventures towards investor readiness. The program was held in partnership with Grindstone Africa, powered by Thinkroom and supported by MCC-PEPFAR.
The Demo Day held on March 29 celebrated the six founders and their companies, allowing them to pitch to investors. Speaking at the virtual event, Agnieszka Rawa, Managing Director of MCC-PEPFAR, reminded the founders that their ventures matter. “You are the protagonists,” she said. “It is your innovations and creativity that will create change in Africa.”
During the eight-week program, each team was paired up with their own designated mentor for strategic guidance. The mentor pool had individuals representing Fortune 100 companies, seasoned entrepreneurs, and the venture capital community.
Here are the six founders that pitched and the problems they are trying to solve.
Ally Salim, Dr Elsa
Ally Salim is the co-founder of Inspired Ideas. He studied software engineering at the Florida Institute of Technology and has dedicated his career to building technology for good. He is passionate about empowering others through teaching and mentoring, and appreciates the success of home-grown solutions for the continent.
Ally has built a number of projects utilizing emerging technologies across a range of sectors including healthcare, law, and education. Their product — Dr. Elsa — is a health assistant tool that uses machine learning and expert knowledge to provide symptom assessment and decision support to rural healthcare providers in Tanzania.
Moses Mbaga, ExamNet
Moses Mbaga is a 15-year-old innovator who started developing ExamNet in mid-2019 and launched it in 2020. He is a form 2 student at Al Muntazir Islamic Seminary and passionate about using technology to solve problems. This pushed him to develop ExamNet.
ExamNet is a mobile and web App that helps primary school students from grade 5 – 7, to improve their knowledge and problem-solving skills by attempting different tests through the App. The platform is currently used all over Tanzania. Moses hopes that he will be able to expand his reach to all over Africa. ExamNet has over 10,000 users.
Castory Munishi, Pharmlinks
Castory Munishi is a co-founder of Pharmlinks. The 25-year old graduate of Muhimbili University of Health and Allied Sciences (MUHAS) holding a Bachelor degree of Pharmacy chaired the organization of the first ever debate of Artificial Intelligence in Tanzania in 2019. He also chaired the first ever hackathon on Artificial Intelligence in Healthcare that has generated three projects that are currently in the incubation stage.
Pharmlinks is an e-commerce platform that aims at increasing medicines access by connecting importers, wholesalers and retailers in Tanzania. Its functionalities include ordering, receiving and managing stock at different levels of the pharmaceutical supply chain from the wholesale level to the consumer. Pharmlinks is currently being used by 1 wholesaler, and 5 retailers.
Anitha Martine, Jamii Dashibodi
Anitha Martine is the founder and team lead of Jamii Dashibodi. She is also a statistician, researcher, M&E practitioner and social entrepreneur. Anitha holds a Bachelor degree in Statistics and she is finalizing her Masters in Research and Public Policy at the University of Dar es Salaam.
Her interests in data use for decision making, market research, impact evaluations and working with children and youth led her to develop Jamii Dashibodi – an interactive digital platform that enables CSOs, corporations and institutions to reach, inform and design effective interventions/products for adolescents and youth by providing access to disaggregated data related to knowledge, attitude and practices of young people around various social issues such as SRH, HIV/AIDS, Nutrition and Livelihood. Jamii Dashibodi has more than 10,600 users.
Justin Kashaigili, Twende
Justin Kashaigili is the founder and CEO of Twende Technologies. He is a computer science graduate of Dublin Institute of Technology (DIT) and has worked in the tech industry for seven years.
Twende is a mobile platform that helps users find taxi and bajaji drivers who are qualified, verified, reliable, and safe. The platform contains a list of drivers vetted for road safety and criminal records, possession of a valid driving license, plus proof of attendance from an approved driving school. More than 3,000 drivers who use motor cars, bajajis and motorcycles use Twende.
Gwaliwa Mashaka, Employable Africa
Gwaliwa Mashaka is the founder of Employable Africa. She holds a BSc in Computer Engineering and Information Technology from the University of Dar Es Salaam in Tanzania and a MSc in GIS (Geographic Information Systems) from Aberdeen University (UK).
Employable Africa is a social enterprise that champions economic empowerment for all through inclusive education and employment. They create employment pipelines from school to college and the workplace.
On the other hand, Envision Africa is designed for students with disabilities. However, all students from high school to college are free to use the platform. It is a collaboration between Employable Africa and Ohio State University.