Start with Why – Developing Universities’ Innovation Ecosystem

Just like Simon Sinek has been preaching and encourage all the startups to ask why should they exist, why should they create successful business? After clarifying the main mission it is simpler to determine what and how. During last months I have personally learned why business incubation program can make a difference in Tanzania. An efficient innovation ecosystem consists of several parts and layers. University based technology transfer and pre-incubation is a vital part of it.

2015-05-14 12.14.46

Director Hassan Mshinda, COSTECH, and participants following Marko Sorri’s module about business planning.

The participants from 7 universities and SIDO showed real commitment during the training sessions and will certainly be the drivers to make the difference. TANZICT can support and create learning opportunities, but at the end, the incubation managers will implement the programs and gain the results. There is a lot work to be done, but I’m positive that there will be real progress with the most active participants in the near future. I was pleased to learn that the support from the government exists and initiatives to create the innovation ecosystem in Tanzania will be launched.

After the training I received few messages indicating that the participants will form a group to continue the collaboration. This is absolutely a great step. A lot of things can be done together, like common tools, templates, working methods, etc. These institutions can have common events and programs to promote entrepreneurship and strengthen the collaboration with different stakeholders. Hopefully next phase of TANZICT can leverage these activities.

Thank you all for the co-operation and learning opportunities during this short term consultancy. I hope to continue with all of you in the future.

Best Regards,

Marko (coach for technology transfer and pre-incubation program)

2015-05-14 14.51.44Happy participants after working for 3 months and participating two workshops.

Reflections of the Innovation Spaces Workshop

On 30th and 31st March 2015, TANZICT along with one of the first
innovation hubs in Tanzania, Buni Hub, hosted an Innovation Spaces
Workshop which brought together over 25 participants from other
potentially blossoming innovation hubs targeted for Iringa, Zanzibar and
Mbeya in 2015.

The two-day workshop was intended to share the
experiences for various institutions including Hypercube in Zimbabwe.
Hypercube is an innovation hub that is dedicated to fostering the role of
Technology in the sustainable growth and development of Zimbabwe.

WP_20150331_13_57_17_ProInnovation Space workshop, University of Iringa student Jocelyne Msigwa presenting their plans.

There are certain similarities between Hypercube and Buni Hub such as
the need to build the local ecosystems by way of community events, boot
camps and workshops. Hypercube hosted over 10 events in 2014 which
attracted more than 500 people to its events. The very first Startup Grind
was hosted at Hypercube on 25th February 2015. It was great to see that
Buni Hub also hosted its first Startup Grind on 31st March, 2015. Events
play a critical role in building tech communities.

There are however differences between Hypercube and Buni. In a recent
blog written by Tayo Akinyemi of Afrilabs, she touches on the 11 key
lessons for innovation hubs in Africa. One of the key lessons relevant to
Buni and Hypercube is the realisation that one size does not fit all.

Buni has two particularly interesting programmes that build capacity and skills
development for university students, and the Buni Mini Fab Lab, which
promotes the maker culture among young entrepreneurs in Tanzania.
Hypercube on the other hand, has strategically focused on being a coworking
space and also houses several young startups and companies that
work out of Hypercube’s innovation space. In the case of Zimbabwe,
another innovation hub called Muzinda Hub focuses specifically of
building capacity for digital skills in Zimbabwe.
WP_20150330_10_56_17_ProMr. Munyaradzi Chiura sharing Hybercube’s lessons learnt.

Munya Chiura is a highly experienced Global Technology Executive
who has had success in a variety of highly competitive, cutting-edge
markets, and fast-paced industries including, ICT, Financial Services,
Human Resources, Telecom, Healthcare, Venture Capital and Private
Equity. He is a co-founder of Hypercube. Hypercube is an innovation hub
that is dedicated to fostering the role of Technology in the sustainable
growth and development of Zimbabwe. Follow Munya Chiura on Twitter

Buni Hub @bunihub
Brian Paul Mnyampi @brompo
Tayo Akinyemi @Tayo_Akinyemi @AfriLabs
Muzinda Hub @MuzindaHub
Hypercube @HypercubeHub

First concrete steps for Zanzibar Innovation Space were taken!


There has been a growing interest for the creation of an Innovation Space in Zanzibar. A number of organizations have been working towards this goal and it has been noted that opportunities for collaboration are rising. 17th of March Reclaim Women Space in World Heritage Stone Town hosted a workshop aiming to clear aims and objectives for Zanzibar Innovation Space together with interested stakeholders.

2015-03-17 13.27.09The Director of Department of Urban and Rural Planning Zanzibar, Dr. Muhammad Juma handed workshop results to Ms. Dhaifa Ali, who is one of the champions creating Zanzibar Innovation Space.

Altogether 22 participants from Reclaim Women Space; Zanzibar living lab Tanzania Youth Icon (TAYI); Zanzibar University (ZU); ZIT Consulting; Zanzibar National Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture (ZNCCIA); Department of Urban and Rural Planning Zanzibar and three trainers from TANZICT joined this one day workshop. After fruitful and active day, we were able to define needed actions to be taken and form a working group. It was agreed that Zanzibar Innovation Space will be located in Reclaim Women Space, which is identically located in a central spot of Stone Town.

2015-03-06 10.42.50Zanzibar Innovation Space will be located in the heart of Stone Town, just next to House of Wonders.

The working team champions will continue development by participating broader workshop with international and Tanzanian trainers which will be held 30-31.3. in COSTECH. That workshop will be part of TANZICT Innovation Space activities, which aim to set up 3 more innovation spaces in Iringa, Mbeya and Zanzibar during 2015.

FEMTECH training for women entrepreneurs


Three round tables were full of women and a handful of men among ladies, when second day of FEMTECH training workshop started. Participants consisted of 15 women entrepreneurs, 7 prospective trainees and 5 incubator managers, all from SIDO.

The workshop is a part of FEMTECH’s training program previously implemented in Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, and now second time in Tanzania. In Tanzania the program is supported by TANZICT. The program aims at developing women entrepreneurs’ business and capacity building of local business trainees by covering such areas as entrepreneurial assessment, development of innovative business ideas, defining market and managing money. During the program, prospective trainees receive also an opportunity to rehearse training in practice.

femtech2-1Women entrepreneurs, prospective trainees and incubator managers sharing their ideas about business development.

The day started with a collaborative product development task, which participants found challenging but educative. After this imaginary exercise, a turn was of a real product market. Women entrepreneurs presented their products and received needed feedback of their products from other participants, trainees and audience. Feedback winding was postponed to following day and the focus was turned to customers. Who could buy my products and why, seemed to be important questions for many participants, who had joined the workshop in order to get ideas how to grow their business. As a whole, the morning was full of collaborative learning by doing, which is still something new in Tanzania.

For me, as a social psychologist and a work and organization researcher, the workshop offered a thought-provoking peak to a reality of women entrepreneurs in Tanzania. Innovativeness and risk management ask for trust in your own abilities to create competitive products and to be successful in the business environment, but those require also trustful relationships with others who may offer social, emotional, cognitive and financial resources needed in doing business. The program seems to work toward these ends.

Thank you all for an opportunity to follow up one morning of this workshop.

PhD. Tuija Seppälä lives in Dar es Salaam and conducted her doctorate in social psychology titled “Trust building and cooperation in supervisor-subordinate relationships and work units”.

Team Academy Curriculum Design Workshop at the University of Iringa

As part of the external consultants visit to Tanzania we organised a curriculum design workshop with the staff of the University of Iringa Team Academy on 10th to 12th of February. The idea was to create the foundation for the curriculum that will later on be submitted to the Tanzanian University Commission for approval in order to start a full Team Academy program in October 2015 with a full throttle.
In the first morning, after checking in, we started to wonder what are the questions we should answer together. We came up with following questions:
  • What is the name of our program?
  • What is the output of our program? I.E. What the recent graduate knows and can do?
  • What is the justification for our program? Why we consider this program important?
  • What are the competences that our graduates will have? What are the levels of development in different competences?
  • How do our team entrepreneurs (i.e. students) learn the competences and attitudes?
    1. What courses will we have?
    2. What approach and learning tools will we use in the courses?
  • How do we assess the learning in this program?
  • What kind of assignments should we have in our program?
In the afternoon we started to answer them, one by one. It took us three days, but by the end of it, we got through most of them. We did not dive into the details of the contents of the courses, but otherwise we covered everything.
I think, the most important thing in creating a new curriculum is the dialogue among the founders that creates the shared understanding about what we are doing and creating. The second issue is then to write it all out into the form of curriculum, which is the job we are doing right now.
Written by and pictures courtesy of Team Academy Senior Experts, TANZICT external consultants, Ville Keränen & Jukka Hassinen, Partus Ltd