I have the opportunity the lead a team of three cadets who are assisting with data collection in support of the Network Science Center at West Point’s research project entitled, “Developing Network Models of Entrepreneurial Ecosystems.” We are currently in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania collecting data concerning social capital in the local entrepreneurial environment. The project has previously collected data in Uganda, Ethiopia, Zambia, Liberia, and Ghana. Analysts at the Network Science Center are developing new methods to compare and contrast the network models developed from this data.
On our first day in Dar es Salaam, we made an introductory visit to the Dar Teknohama Business Incubator (DTBi). DTBi is housed in the Tanzanian Commission for Science and Technology (COSTECH) office building which is located on Bagamoyo Road in the Kijitonyama neighborhood of Dar es Salaam.
Dar Teknohama Business Incubator – DTBI
The DTBi is an independent autonomous entity of COSTECH and aims to “create a dynamic entrepreneurial ecosystem, monetize innovative high-tech companies, and support creative IT entrepreneurs in Tanzania.” They are business focused but a “Not-for-Profit” entity. The Incubator has its own Board whose members come from across the private sector including bankers, government officials, other members of civil society, academics, and telecommunications experts.
The COSTECH Building in the Kijitonyama neighborhood of Dar es Salaam.
We were hosted by Collin Gumbu, DTBi’s, Business Development Manager. During our introductory briefing, we were also introduced to Richard Miles, an American who serves as an Entrepreneur in Residence.
The cadet team at DTBi
Collin explained that DTBi also serves as a meeting place and hub for technology start-ups. Like many incubators/accelerators, they “assist early stage IT companies by “lowering the cost of business and increasing the chances of business survival by providing access to shared resources, facilitating access to finance and markets, providing guidance and business management, and networking for technical trends and opportunities to access markets.”
DTBi’s business model involves an application process for aspiring entrepreneurs and then the DTBi staff accepts the best business plans, concepts and teams into the program. The entrepreneurs sign a 4-year agreement for incubation and in return, the companies get office space, power, high-speed internet access and conference rooms. DTBi provides mentoring, guidance and access to contacts in business and government agencies. Additionally, DTBi earns a percentage of their annual gross turn-over. DTBi received their initial funding from The World Bank, COSTECH, and Vodacom in May 2011 and their first cohort of incubatees was accepted in August of 2011.
After our introductory meeting, we met two members of the incubator program and administered our survey. After the survey, we then visited Buni Innovation Space, which is also located in the COSTECH Building.
Buni is sponsored by TANZICT, The Information Society and ICT Sector Development Project. It’s a bilateral collaboration project between the Tanzanian Ministry of Communications, Science and Technology of Tanzania (MCST) and Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland. The project’s overall objective is “a strengthened Tanzanian information society with enhanced capacities to contribute to the achievement of the Government’s socio-economic development goals.”
Meeting with Tech Enthusiasts at the Buni Collaboration Space
Buni is a collaboration hub/tech meet-up space similar to the iHub in Nairobi. It is a facility that allows people interested in tech and entrepreneurship to meet and provides wireless internet for its members and has a back-up power system.
We were greeted by Brian Paul and Jumanne Mtambalike, the Innovation Space Managers. After a short introductory meeting, the team was introduced to groups working in the collaboration space and we administered additional surveys.
The team met many interesting entrepreneurs and aspiring entrepreneurs all working on innovative products. We will introduce some of these tech enthusiasts and describe some of their projects in the next blog post.