Entrepreneurship for scientists and engineers in Tanzania

The IOP’s entrepreneurial training programme continued with a workshop in Tanzania, organised in partnership with the University of Dar es Salaam (UDSM).

The workshop ran over 25–29 July and was sponsored by Nature, the Optical Society (OSA), the Institute of Enterprise and Entrepreneurs (IOEE), the International Centre for Theoretical Physics (ICTP) and the National Physical Laboratory (NPL).

Those participating were exposed to essential skills and knowledge needed to progress business ideas, with topics covering the importance of networking, financial projections, intellectual property, market analysis and developing business pitches and plans.

The workshop also endeavoured to relate to the specific situation in Tanzania, and, as a result, focused on the problems in country, developing ideas to solve those problems and what assistance is available for budding entrepreneurs in Tanzania through Buni Innovation Hub, the Dar Teknohama Business Incubator and the Commission for Science and Technology (COSTECH), among others.

At the end of the week participants were tasked with developing business pitches to attract investment, which were presented to a panel of judges, including Richard Brooks, David Sample, Yumiko Hamano, Selina Jalloh, Dr Najat Mohammed from UDSM and Joseph Manirakiza from Human Development Innovation Fund (HDIF).

The ideas presented focused on environmental issues, creating educational resources, building sustainable housing, developing technology for healthcare, and reducing food wastage. The winning team developed a business around reducing the number of plastic bags used in Tanzania and each member was awarded a laptop for their efforts, donated by NPL; in addition five people who excelled throughout the week were awarded IOEE affiliate memberships.

Overall the workshop was a great success. A total of 39 participants attended, nine of whom had already developed a business. Feedback was very positive with the majority stating that the workshop exceeded their expectations and all participants finding that their level of knowledge had improved after participating in the training.

The next IOP entrepreneurial workshop will take place in India from the 19–21 September, followed by Brazil from the 17–21 October 2016. The IOP will revisit Tanzania again in 2017.