May 26, 2024

Flourish without Capital

In today’s era, expanding one’s knowledge and skills in anticipation that one will be employed is more vague than what meets the eye. This has called for an intervention in the mindset of people, fueling a more aggressive approach in starting their enterprises to cater to the present needs as well as the future generation. When one defines an entrepreneur, likely keywords that come to mind are risk, innovation, creativity, and opportunities. Walking down the streets in Tanzania, more than 95% of businesses are small enterprises, and despite most of them being in the informal sector, they contribute to about 35% of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) which dictates how crucial they are to the economy.

Over the years there has been an expansion in the entrepreneurial ecosystem, indicating a positive shift- there are diverse opportunities and areas to dive into and explore. Various challenges face the entrepreneurs in Tanzania: financial constraints, infrastructural constraints, the nature of the market, political and economic policies, regulatory bureaucracy, adapting to technological advancement, and other soft skills such as managerial skills, negotiation skills, planning, and resilience.

Although people with enterprise ideas think they need cash in the bank to push it to fruition, ultimately, capital can go beyond cash, as there are many opportunities to finance these projects in other ways without stressing over loans and credit attached to high interests and stingy conditions. After my thorough review of various financing options, I am proud to share some of these with entrepreneurs who have high potential ideas to either start up or expand.

First and foremost, we can explore an angel investor or donor which is among the most common ways of financing the enterprise. A well-drafted business plan and illustrated execution can attract investors to finance it. An investor needs to know that his or her finances are well channeled to the right course, whether it is to help people or generate profit. Therefore, rather than having credit, it is more important for one to know how to write and present a strategic enterprise plan to the investors. There are different platforms or ways of obtaining such investors; a few to mention are official government and embassy websites, start-up hubs, and other related organizations’ websites and events. Also, selling shares of an enterprise- one can start a business and have various shareholders who will finance the business as they share the ownership accordingly.

Another approach is a market-funded enterprise. Here a customer funds your business with the anticipation that you will deliver as per the agreement. This method does not necessarily work for all types of business, but it works for some. An entrepreneur needs to have a strong knowledge about the market’s needs and challenges to present the solution in a way that accounts for trust and accountability.

Partnerships and joint ventures with other strategic businesses can also be an option. It is crucial to understand where your enterprise falls in the industry. Do enough research to understand other businesses in the market that you can relate with and find out the missing piece (innovation and creativity) to their growth which could be your start. One does not always have to start from scratch, or alone, rather, partnering up is one way of financing an enterprise as those who are in the market can provide resources as long as there is something for them to gain.

Creating business relationships is another great resource. Being a part of an entrepreneurship startup hub or incubator such as the Tanzania Start-Up Association that provides mentorship (sometimes even funding!) and networking opportunities that are essential for starting a business. Since there’s no need for venture capital if he or she participates in this bootstrapping, humble beginnings do have their perks- it all starts in your room, phone, or laptop.

Additionally, participation in entrepreneurship project competitions will give any start-up, or ongoing business, decent public attention that will create market awareness and even attract more potential investors. They are held by different organizations, such as the National Pitch Competition by Accelerate Africa. Some of these competitions do not require a well-established business but rather an individual who has a creative detailed planned project ready for execution.

One final resource is government, national, and international organization’s funding and sustenance. The government of Tanzania financially supports entrepreneurs through programs such as the Tanzania Investment Centre (TIC) and Tanzania Small Industries Development Organization (SIDO). International organizations and funds such as the USAID, UN Capital Development Fund, Finnpartnership, and Mondo Foundation, to name a few, call for proposals to finance and provide learning tools for entrepreneurs.

All of this being said, there is hope, even with the financial constraints that continuously limit the start or expansion of these enterprises in Tanzania. The key important aspect to consider is having a well-detailed business proposal that is reliable and feasible. A well-streamed financial management system and marketing strategies can also do the trick. It all comes down to making other people see the better future that you see from the success of your business.

References

U. S. Embassy Dar Es Salaam. “Funding Opportunities Funding Opportunities – U.S. Embassy in Tanzania.” U.S. Embassy in Tanzania, 7 Mar. 2024, tz.usembassy.gov/funding-opportunities.

“SMES Archives.” TanzaniaInvest, 1 May 2023, www.tanzaniainvest.com/smes.

World Bank Group. “Tanzania Economic Update (TEU).” World Bank, 12 Mar. 2024, www.worldbank.org/en/country/tanzania/publication/tanzania-economic-update-teu.

fundsforNGOs. “Latest Grants and Resources in Tanzania – fundsforNGOs.” fundsforNGOs – Grants and Resources for Sustainability, www2.fundsforngos.org/tag/tanzania/

“Mondo Foundation (Tanzania).” Eurofins Scientific, www.eurofins.com/eurofins-foundation/some-supported-projects/social-entrepreneurship/mondo-foundation-tanzania.

UNCDF in Tanzania – UN Capital Development Fund (UNCDF). www.uncdf.org/tanzania.

“Development Funding – Finland Abroad: Tanzania.” Finland Abroad: Tanzania, finlandabroad.fi/web/tza/opportunities-in-development-cooperation-for-companies.

Tanzania Startup Association. Tanzania Startup Association. tsa.co.tz.

UNDP Funding Compendium 2020, www.undp.org/sites/g/files/zskgke326/files/2022-06/UNDP Funding Compendium 2020 .pdf.

AAE

AAE is a volunteer-run organisation coordinated by a network of national teams.

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