SLUSH – My true life opportunity

It has been a wonderful experience to participate at SLUSH event in Helsinki Finland this year, we met international investors, executives and accelerators, and they opened my eyes to the new ways of thinking. I got a chance to network with people from other African countries and Europe, I saw how the other part of the world is doing things especially with technology, and real they are moving, moving and moving. I saw how technology has transformed life in Finland.

Among things I learnt concerning startups is that people do not wait for the Government support to push them up to start implementing their ideas, rather they start on their own and external support will find them while they are on the move already. Startups in Finland and other European countries seem to operate in a very strong Ecosystem which prepares them to scale easily to the global market in terms of operation and investment.

I believe there are so many people with bright ideas here at home but the problem with most of us is lack of confidence to start without cash on hand. A network of right people is more important than cash at early stages of idea or business growth, cash will come from people you have already in your network, that’s why SLUSH was formed to widen chances of networking.

I hope everyone now is celebrating personal improvement attained from SLUSH, but this could mean a lot if we are willing and committed to share with our fellow guys. We have to join hands together and see how we can bring together hubs, universities, incubators, private and public sectors to create an ecosystem that will provide chances for many entrepreneurs and startups to meet right people and grow their networks.

For sure, the battle ahead is very big and challenging, to fill the gap we need not only to be committed and hard workers but also very creative and innovative. We need a “SLUSH-like” conference in Tanzania for our startups to have big impact in the home society and the global.

The time is now, let’s decide and draw the map.

Abdul Bashiri,

CEO,

Bashicom Enterprises Ltd

10610676_10202487881033300_8915494436710791932_nAbdul Bashiri (third from left) enjoying snow with Rene Petersen Parker (RLabs), Johnpaul Barretto (Kinu) and Godfrey Magila (Magilatech).

Slush lessons by Godfrey Magila: Tanzanian Power!

I learnt a lot from our trip to Slush. Surprisingly my biggest lesson did not come from Slush itself – but it came from our Tanzanian team! I learnt important things that have impact in life and also to the business side.

WP_004166Godfrey Magila pitching Mobile Parliament to international investors.

I also had fun with the team like experiencing snow and ordering food without understanding a word first time in my life! I’m thankful for the opportunity that Finland has given me and I’m convinced that it will have effects even after a long time.

Godfrey Magila, Mobile Parliament

http://mparliament.com/index-sw.html

Findings from Slush by Taha Jiwaji

Slush definitely lives up to its hype of a tech conference not to be missed. In my opinion its somewhere in between a rock concert and a

proper conference. Laser lights and stage smoke were just a few of the effects you’d see on a daily basis. There’s also serious stuff off course with lots of intense startup pitches, frenzied networking and amazing talks covering topics ranging from fundraising, gaming to leadership and impact investments.

Although the focus was mostly on Scandinavian and Eurasian startups, key takeaways for African startups including Bongo Live was the think global mindset since almost all of our economies are fairly small as independent markets. Finland only has 5 million people, so their startups have to think global or atleast cover Europe from day 1.

Overall I personally learned a lot about the Finnish tech scene, particularly in gaming. I also got to experience their work hard, play hard attitude which kept Slush both serious and enjoyable like tech conferences should be.

To summarize some more thoughts:

The pros:
Talks were to the point and didn’t go longer than 30mins. Some were just 5-7mins.
Good mix of large enterprise/corporations and smaller startups showcasing their products/services.

The cons:
upto 12,000 attendees. making it extremely hard to stand out.
The African startup landscape was very unfamiliar to almost everyone I met. So there was a lot of educating to be done.

Taha Jiwaji, Bongolive.

http://www.bongolive.co.tz/

taha

Towards establishing mini fabrication lab at Buni hub.

“What I like about Buni is the fact that the space equips us with skills that you can’t get from any other place in Tanzania” Michael Kimollo, active member of Buni maker community and graduate of Buni internship programme.

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3D printer at Buni hub.

Six months ago, group of 20 to 30 Buni members developed interest on forming a maker community at the hub called Make Fellows. The motivation came from the existing few individuals, who were working with the current senior mentor of the community Victor Augustine on their university final year projects. When the lady from Romania, Stefania Druga visited Buni and pitch about her project called Afrimakers, we felt there was a need to start and develop our own maker community in Dar es Salaam.

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Interns working on the water level system project.

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Testing the water level system prototype. The system can send SMS notifications to the users.

From that time number of makers meet-ups have been organized at Buni hub mostly in Saturdays. The community is made up of individuals who are dedicated towards making different innovative electronics prototype. From the sessions people learn the basics of electronics up to working with micro-controllers and making circuit boards. The community has been using Arduino and other technologies on creating and developing new prototypes, the recent projects being FM transmitters and liquid level control systems using sensors. The liquid level control system was used by the students in Buni internship programme to develop water level system for water dams and wells. The sensors also can be used to check the amount of humidity in the soil and it can be incorporated in digital irrigation systems. The project is already developed by the other mentor of the maker’s community, Jacqueline Dismas.

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Matthew assembling the 3D printer at Buni hub.

Having the community of makers at the hub has created a lot of opportunities to the hub users and individuals looking for maker communities in Tanzania. 3 months ago 3D printing technology pioneer, Matthew Rodge visited the hub and meet with the local pioneers of making things. Matthew met with the director general of COSTECH,
Dr. Hassan Mshinda and explained the concept of 3D printing to him and its potential for rapid prototyping especially for developing countries.  Having community of individuals interested and passionate in making things, it was very easy to suggest to them the concept of 3D printing and the potential of the technology.

“3D printing will revolutionize the manufacturing industry especially in developing countries” Dr. Hassan Mshinda.

The maker community at the hub were offered free 3D assembling and operation training by Matthew pioneer from the organization called techfortrade. Matthew left the hub with assembled 3D printer that to be used by the hub. The printer is currently operational and is being used at the hub.

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Jacqueline facilitating 3D printing training session.

From the successes of the maker community and adoption of 3D printing technology by hub mentors, Dr. Hassan Mshinda held a meeting with all the stakeholders and suggested formation of Mini FabLab (fabrication laboratory) at the hub with more focus on 3D printing technologies. The first project was assembling an e-waste 3D printer from the hub and second project being, researching for possibilities of recycling the plastic bottles into 3D printing filaments. Both of the projects are currently on progress. Matthew has been successful on implementing both of the projects in other developing countries and through the support of local makers, he is looking to achieve the same in Tanzania. The scope of the project is to have a working prototype of an e-waste 3D printer and recycled plastic filaments before rolling them out through vocational training institutions or other local production industries.

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Bonguino board made by Victor Augustine, senior mentor of the community.

The first step towards achieving the aim, COSTECH has decided to establish a mini FabLab inside Buni hub for the maker community to be able to work with the tools for rapid prototyping and bringing their technical ideas into life. Currently the community has two mentors Victor Augustine and Jacqueline Dismas, the second being the care taker of the 3D printer and the maker community. As part of the first step the hub is planning to focus more on electronics maker community before moving forward to other sides of making things.

The community mentor, Jacqueline visited the University of Nairobi fabrication lab. The about to be formed FabLab will be working closely with the university’s FabLab and already the mini FabLab is in the process of joining the global FabLab network.
The journey continues, by early next year we believe the the first FabLab will be opened in Dar es Salaam inside Buni hub.

First Team Academy in Africa

First Team Academy, or Tiimiakatemia in Finnish was established 1993 in Jyväskylä, Finland. In the core of Team Academy –model there are students who all work as entrepreneurs while starting their own company in the beginning of their studies. They start making projects with real companies and with real money. While doing the projects students face challenges and have to learn different skills. In Finland Tiimiakateamia is a special unit of entrepreneurship at JAMK Jyväskylä University of Applied Sciences where the students graduate with BBA degree after 3,5 years. Model has been exported to multiple countries such as France, UK, Spain, Brasil and China.

People who participate to the program don’t see themselves as students but more as ´Teampreneurs´. There are no teachers in Team Academy, there are coaches. There are also no exams but a lot of reading and taking the theory from the books straight into practice in customer projects. Wait, what? No teachers? No exams? “What kind of school that is?” -you might be thinking now. Actually there are no lectures either, but instead people are learning by doing.

Teampreneurs have an opportunity to learn whatever skills they want and need to have better customer relations and make better business. They have the power to affect their learning process themselves. Learners have to improve their skills in leadership, marketing, human resourcing and financial skills. On top of that they will grow a lot as human beings during their studies. The amount of success depends on individual. No-one else can put the knowledge to your head.

As learning happen in teams. Teammates will challenge each other every day. Everyone in the team will know what you want to reach and what you want to learn. It’s not only struggling alone with your problems, because you have the support from the whole team. If you learn something, you will share it with your team. That’s how team and its members learn together.

University of Iringa in Tanzania has started a new degree program in late October this year that has been inspired by Team Academy approach. Team Academy Iringa is the first Team Academy in Africa. This is a pilot project which has 26 1st year BBA students. The rest will be history and only the sky is limit. People in Iringa are really excited about this new way of learning.

This Team Academy Iringa’s journey hasn’t been easy and it has taken a lot of work. The hard work still continues but luckily coaches and other core team members are really strong and committed to develop the program. One of the members of Team Academy Iringa core team, Mr. Deo Sabokwigina, said: “It’s not always enough if you just hope. Sometimes you also have to believe.”

Iringa is taking the first steps in the field of team entrepreneurship in Africa. If you’ll visit Team Academy Iringa you would hear many teampreneurs saying: “We are making history!”

Written by Suvi Marjanen
Tiimiakatemia Junior Expert
suvi.marjanen@partus.fi

Suvi is a teampreneur from Tiimiakatemia Jyväskylä, Finland. She is currently staying in Iringa for two months to help kick-starting Team Academy Iringa. You can see pictures from University of Iringa Team Academy here.