Mara Foundation Tanzania, the newest incubator in East Africa
Honourable Dr. Mary Nagu (MP), Minister of State Prime Minister’s Office Investment and Empowerment of Tanzania officially opened Mara Foundation in Tanzania last Friday, March 1st 2013, at Mayfair Plaza, Old Bagamoyo Road, Dar es Salaam. The Minister’s speech focused on entrepreneurship and the need to support small enterprises to grow into medium enterprises, enabling the private sector to leap forward and empower entrepreneurs.
The Launch Event also marked the kickstart of Mara Mentor One-on-One, the mentorship programme that have connected 13 successful businessmen and businesswomen to entrepreneurs for a duration of six months through a business speed-dating. Mentorship is very valuable to emerging businesses as it allows entrepreneurs to learn from other’s mistakes and do better, ask for advice and guidance once they feel stuck and access a wider network that can benefit their business. The next cycle in Tanzania will start in September 2013.
Finally, Mara Foundation also provides Venture Capital Fund in Tanzania. As Venture Capital is not yet widely spread in the area, we are planning to first inform entrepreneurs about Venture Capital for them to make well-informed decisions, and clearly understand the implications of such an innovative source of funding. Thereafter we shall engage in our first investment in innovative and high growth enterprises.
The need for the private sector to grow efficiently and create clusters around entrepreneurship has led to a growing number of business incubators in Sub-Saharan Africa. Thus, there is a dear need for entrepreneurs who come from any industry to have a place where they can connect, feel understood, share their experiences and have access to services that can help them grow and nurture their businesses.
Kenya counts close to ten incubation centres, in majority Tech Hubs, as does Nigeria, who counts also a few Business Hubs. In Tanzania, the entrepreneurial mindset is emerging within the younger generations and existing within the diaspora returning to their home country. In Dar es Salaam alone, there are currently four incubators: KINU, TanzICT, DTBi, and SIDO. Two of them are qualified as Tech Hubs, one as Business Hub and the fourth is focused on manufacturing.
It is therefore crucial to support these individuals by building a community who has the drive, the passion, and the enthusiasm to start their own company; create a community who believes they have to be the ones creating jobs, not the ones sitting and waiting until a job comes to them. At that crucial point in time when they are thinking of starting their companies, entrepreneurs need the support of peers which can sometimes be just a tap on the shoulder from a buddy telling them they’re doing something great, to push them forward and help them go through the tougher days.
At that most important time of their businesses’ development phase, Mara Foundation aims to become that focal point which connects these entrepreneurs.
Mara Launchpad Kampala: Third VC4Africa meetup in Kampala is a success