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Imechapishwa na Policy Forum

Tanzania's innovation scene is calling for a policy overhaul to attract more funding for its burgeoning startup ecosystem. Stakeholders at a recent breakfast debate held during Tanzania Innovation Week 2024 highlighted the stark funding gap compared to regional peers. 

The discussion focused on policy hurdles as a key roadblock. Regulatory compliance requirements, limited exit options for investors, and a lack of focus on talent development were identified as major deterrents.

"Money always goes where it is attracted," said Ms. Aneth Kasebele, a policy specialist at the UNCDF. She pointed to cumbersome registration processes for venture capitalists and restrictions on accessing external capital as examples of stifling regulations.

The need for clear exit options for investors was another major concern raised by stakeholders. Jumanne Mtambalike, a board member of the Tanzania Startups Association, emphasized the importance of a well-organized exit strategy to entice investors.

Building a strong talent pool and fostering a culture of celebrating innovation were also seen as crucial factors. Mtambalike stressed the need to identify Tanzania's unique strengths and build a compelling brand identity for its startups.

The discussion also highlighted the importance of domestic funding. With over 842 startups registered in the country, stakeholders believe prioritizing domestic capital can significantly boost the ecosystem.

Collaboration between startups, banks, and other stakeholders was another key takeaway. Ms. Sharon Nsule of CRDB Bank emphasized the need for open communication and understanding the specific needs of startups at different stages of growth.

The government's initiatives were also acknowledged. The signing of the National Innovation Framework was seen as a positive step, but stakeholders urged for further action beyond policies and laws.

Overall, the breakfast debate underscored the urgent need for a policy and market reform package to unlock Tanzania's true potential in the African innovation landscape. By addressing regulatory hurdles, fostering a supportive ecosystem, and nurturing local talent, Tanzania can take its rightful place among the continent's innovation leaders.