SLUSH reflections by Debbie from Twende

When the immigration guy checking passports in the Helsinki airport nods in understanding when you say your reason for being here is simply Slush, you know you’re part of something special.

“It’s like we’re in a dream.” – one of my Slush flatmates, at least 5 times the first night.

Arriving in Helsinki that first night began what I now reflect upon as a surreal memory – surreal in that wonderful way where it’s hard to believe how lucky you are that life has brought you here. All I really knew about Helsinki was that it would be cold and dark in November, and I would probably see some Moomin around town.


Moomin and me at the Helsinki airport – turns out the Moomins are everywhere in Helsinki and possibly all of Finland.

When we got to our flats, we pulled out our rarely used winter jackets and headed straight to a Finnish sauna and dinner at a pub. The cleansing was refreshing, and the food was surprisingly fast for a group of 15+ Tanzanians ordering Finnish food for the first time at 10pm. The next day, we joined the conversations at the UNICEF conference around scaling up innovation for youth, all before the main event: Slush.

When you stepped into the doors, you immediately encountered what you might imagine a mix of technology enthusiasts, entrepreneurs, students, and music festival organizers would come up with. There was fog for the lasers everywhere, big stages set up with seats all-in-order, food carts set up for all sorts of diets, and funky/quirky furniture and décor. The buzz was palpable.

At first, it was a little overwhelming, and I wasn’t sure where my fit would be – after all, I worked at a small social innovation centre in Arusha, Tanzania that focuses more on grassroots-level change as opposed to finding those unicorns – where was I going to find the relevant people amongst the virtual reality investors and Facebook mobile gamers?

Luckily, not only did Slush increase their ‘Impact Track’ to include more speakers and events geared towards people interested in the social side of business, I was also part of the Tanzanian delegation TanzICT sponsored – and they took care of us, through making introductions, recommending events, and organizing workshops, all in our uniform of matching shirts and hoodies.


Jacqueline Novogratz, CEO/Founder of Acumen, speaking at one of the Slush Impact events.

Slush was a fantastic and fascinating mix of investors, students, entrepreneurs, CEOs, government officials, nonprofit organizations, consultants, and the generally curious. With people representing 100 countries, hearing multiple languages while walking from stage to stage, along the booths of aspiring startups was a regular occurrence. Our delegation met people who knew very little about Tanzania as well as people who had moved from Tanzania to Finland – and after Slush we actually participated in a workshop where we chatted about the similarities and differences between Finland and Tanzania and the challenges we face and came away understanding a little bit more about each other.

The exposure and networking were probably the biggest takeaways I am bringing back to Arusha. During Slush, I spent a large portion of time talking about the initiatives my organization is supporting, from a small-holder farmer selling his self-designed/built manure spreader to his fellow Tanzanians to a rural community near Arusha generating income by pressing their excess avocadoes into oil. I managed to meet some potential contacts and learn about relevant opportunities for these (and other) initiatives to get to the next stage – and improved my ability to spread the word about the amazing work that happens over here in Tanzania.

All in all, Slush was incredible for the exchanges that happened (and it’s definitely more than that business card exchange). I met so many people who were open and keen to understand the world more and make this planet seem a bit smaller, by getting to know one person at a time. Though the challenges in this world are great and so frequently overwhelming, small action towards something better is the only thing we can really do. And seeing all these small actions in one giant gathering is such an awe-inspiring, hope-inducing experience that I will continue trying to bring into TZ.

Participants for SLUSH selected!

TANZICT and HDIF would like to say big thank you for all of you who participated in the SLUSH -pitching session on this weeks Monday (14th of October). It was great to see so many good pitches in BuniHub!

Modesta Joseph from Our Cries was the youngest participant to give her pitch followed by big applauds.

Modesta Joseph from Our Cries was the youngest participant to give her pitch followed by big applauds.

Competition was tough
and the jury had to think hard for the selections. We have been contacting all participants over the week and informing them about their application status. As you might know, we have limited resources to select participants for these trips. If you were not chosen to the SLUSH delegation this time, and If you have funds of your own and you want to join the delegation, kindly contact Mr. Teemu Seppälä as soon as possible.

Here is the list
of applicants, who were selected to take part in SLUSH 2015:
Doreen Kessy, Ubongo Kids
Faraja Nyalandu, Shule Direct
Naeem Mawji, Jamii Power
Catherinerose Barretto, KINUvation KINU Innovation Hub
Ruth Lukwaro, Gongali Model Co.Ltd
Godfrey Magila, Magilatech Company
Deborah Tien, AISE Tanzania
Hyasintha Ntuyeko, Kasole Secrets
Victor Mnyawami, Tango TV
Rose Funja, AgrInfo
Collin Gumbu, Dtbi-incubator
Modesta Joseph, Ourcries
Vick John Vigero, Mbeya Living Lab
Herieth Rogath, Mbeya University of Science and Technology

As a common feedback for all pitches:
all were confident and able to tell their stories in understandable way. Also practicing on Monday morning showed a difference. Something that you should consider to make your deck better: do not put too much text per slide, just a couple of sentences at maximum highlighting your most important message for each slide. Tell your story, do not read your slides. Continue your venture and pitch always.

Last put not least, congratulations: you gave your pitch at the front of a public audience, you can be proud of yourself!

Apply NOW for the Number ONE Start-up Event – SLUSH 2015!

Are you the brightest start-up in Tanzania?
Are you looking for new international partners?
Are you running an incubator, innovation space or an entrepreneurship center and planning to develop it to meet international standards?
Have you created social innovation which will change the world?

*Deadline for the applications passed, form has been removed*

The purpose of the trip is to enable Tanzanian start-up companies, social innovators, technology hubs, universities and living labs to meet with investors and other interested parties to pitch their solutions, network with other international counterparts and learn from the Finnish startup ecosystem.

Who can apply?

TANZICT in collaboration with HDIF have opened a Call to Participate at the SLUSH 2015 event to be held at Helsinki, Finland in six categories:
1) Startup
2) University Entrepreneurship Center or 3) Program Incubator
4) Innovation Space
5) Living Lab
6) Social Innovator

*Note: All selected participants will be required to participate in the coaching sessions before the trip, prepare a pitch, be active and attend all events during SLUSH week, write a reflection report after the trip, etc.

What will the winners get?

Travels to Finland, accommodation during the week in Helsinki, per diems, coaching before the trip, organized meetings with most relative parties and a truly lifetime experience!
Process & Timeline

7.8. Call for Applications
31.8. Deadline for Applications
7.9. Best applicants will be invited for interviews
14.9. Interviews will be held at Buni Hub, Dar es Salaam
16.9. Winners will be announced
11.9. – 6.11. Preparations for SLUSH.
8-14.11. SLUSH Week in Helsinki, Finland.
*TANZICT reserves all rights to approve or refuse any application.

Taster of learning revolution in Tanzania – blog post by Nina Jussila

Nina had two days with teams PEAK and TAYC. Photo courtesy of Nina Jussila

Nina Jussila is writing in her blog about late visit to University of Iringa and their Team Academy unit operating under the Center of Entrepreneurship and Innovation. She was very impressed on how fast the UoI´s new program has been able to find its way.

“This had been their first year to run the Team Academy, so the teampreneurs had started just eight months ago, but even in that short time, they had been able to create a real Team Academy atmosphere in there and the place felt so homely right away.”

Nina is a graduate of Team Academy Finland that is operating under JAMK University of Applied Sciences in Jyväskylä. She has also completed coach training program and is currently working in Northumbria University at the UK by helping them to run a similar program as in Iringa and in Finland. Team Academy model is very much focused on practical skills and competences needed in business life by using “learning-by-doing” approach. Students operate as entrepreneurs with real life customer and run their own projects during the studies.

“That is so weird feeling when you travel to the other side of the world, but when there is something like Team Academy which connects you so strongly it feels like you almost know the people already.”

In Iringa Nina had a chance to meet the first team entrepreneurs (teampreneurs) of Africa for two days and share some of her experiences with them. Nina encouraged the teams to find their own favorite projects and work together with Team Academy´s international network to reach their goals.

“Others follow the paths which already exist, but teampreneurs know how to create their own paths.”

You can read Nina´s full post from her blog.

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.