Jumanne Rajabu Mtambalike and his team are moving mountains in Tanzania and causing quakes within the continent’s technology space. Mtambalike, an innovator, and technology enthusiast who is quiet unassuming is the co-founder of Sahara Ventures which manages a portfolio of technology related businesses and activities including Saharasparks.com and Sahara Accelerator. Sahara Ventures is the organizer of Sahara Sparks event. Increasingly, the event has become the go-to place not just for Tanzanian startups or East Africa’s technology voices, but all of Africa’s innovators. For two days this year, May 26 and 27 in Dar es Salaam, the world literarily sat inside the Mlimani City event centre where thousands of technology enthusiasts, startups, angel investors, venture capitalists, public sector IT decision makers, and a host of other stakeholders within and outside the continent focused on the continent’s technology equity and future. Mtambalike shares his vision for Sahara Sparks with IT Edge News, Segun Oruame and why he believes Africa’s future rests on his young technology entrepreneurs.
What have been the objectives and motivations of setting up and promoting Sahara Sparks?
The objective and motivation behind Sahara Spark are to promote early stage companies by providing them with the opportunity to be exposed, pitch and exhibit their products and services, to find investors and potential partners. Sahara Sparks started as the event to bridge the ecosystem gap in Tanzania whereby there was no a single platform in the country to link innovation and technology entrepreneurship ecosystem players in one place to discuss and reflect on different issues affecting the ecosystem.
“Hubs will also act as the centers of innovation and technology transfer across the continent with the smartest people in the continent meeting to think about our socio economic welfare with respect to the changes in technology.”
Do you envisage a pan-Africa event in the frame of Demo Africa to offer opportunities to startups across Africa?
Sahara Sparks is more than just an event or conference; it is a series of activities that looks at bringing ecosystem players together. Sahara Sparks 2017 saw more activities building up to the main event for the period of one month. From Sahara VR Sessions, Sahara Impact Week (At The Universities), Sahara Google Cloud Next Event, Sahara Header File Event for Developers, Sahara Entrepreneurship Week, Sahara FinTech RoundTable Event, Sahara Investor Pitch and finally Sahara Sparks main event. The vision is to have these series of activities rolled out across the continent as an effort to build up startup ecosystem in Africa. Even if our partners don’t have enough resources to implement Sahara Sparks main event then we can allow them to replicate some of these activities and help them to organize. We are looking to create far large impact in the continent than what we are creating now.
Describe Sahara Sparks?
Sahara Sparks is the Innovation and Technology Entrepreneurship event, which promotes early stage companies by providing them with the opportunity to be exposed, pitch and exhibit their products and services, to find investors and potential partners. Sahara Sparks activities include Exhibitions, Product launching, Pitching Sessions, Talks, Panel discussions and much more.
“We are developing digital entrepreneurship contents for the African market to expose the ecosystem to the global investor community to come and invest in the continent.”
Is it possible to build synergies among African hubs, labs and innovation centres with a view to engaging the global technology and investment markets via a common front?
Yes, it is very much possible. Already, AfriLabs is doing great work around those areas by linking hubs across the continent and help them to forge relationships and work together. What hubs need to do now is to forge individual relationships to create synergies that will help their entrepreneurs to be able to explore new markets of the same nature. If CCHub Nigeria can partner with Buni Hub in Tanzania to help a Nigerian entrepreneur doing business in Lagos to tap into the market in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania then that can be a model worth replicating across the continent since it will allow our entrepreneurs to access a market of 1.2 billion people living in the continent. Hubs will also act as the centers of innovation and technology transfer across the continent with the smartest people in the continent meeting to think about our socio-economic welfare with respect to the changes in technology.
What next? What’s your vision for the Sahara Sparks event and the Sahara Ventures?
Develop Sahara Sparks as an African brand and start replicating some of our activities in other countries. We are already in talks with our partners in Kampala, Accra, and Juba for potential activities for next year.
- Developing a digital platform (Sahara Accelerator) which will link entrepreneurs with tools, mentors, and investors from across the continent and the globe in general.
- Developing digital entrepreneurship contents for the African market to expose the ecosystem to the global investor community to come and invest in the continent.