Six Tanzanian companies taking advantage of a changing economy

5. Kinu Hub

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Kinu Hub is a tech innovation space located in Dar es Salaam that offers start-ups access to a working space, internet, an app testing centre, coaching and coffee. Successful enterprises are emerging out of Kinu Hub, proving that Tanzania can be a force to be reckoned with in the technology industry.

“Tanzania is often looked at as the slower brother in the region,” says co-founder Johnpaul Barretto. “It is great to have a space where teams can meet and compete, and then take on the region and show perceptions towards Tanzania are outdated.”

In Tanzania there are many challenges tech businesses can solve, from healthcare to education. However, running a tech start-up is not easy. The connectivity infrastructure is vulnerable to outages, there is insufficient supply of electricity, and regulations hinder the development of start-ups. But not all is gloom.

“Consumers are very ready to take on solutions. As long as you show that you are solving a problem or making life more efficient, people are willing to use your service and engage with you,” says Barretto.

6. Atsoko

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Beauty and cosmetics retail chain Atsoko is targeted at Tanzania’s urban women. It operates two stores in Dar es Salaam, and stocks products of the UK brand Sleek MakeUP and Swedish nail-care label Depend Cosmetic.

“The average spend per client is about US$15 to $20 per occasion for one or two products. But then we have sometimes women who come in and buy a whole kit for $100 or even $150,” says Atsoko founder Marie Englesson.

Atsoko is expanding its portfolio to include products of Revlon and Maybelline. It will also be doubling the stores it operates to four by the end of this month.

Ironically, in 2011 when Englesson approached global cosmetics brands to distribute their products in Tanzania, many indicated they were not interested in the market.

“They felt it was a little too early,” she recalls.

But now the tide is changing with more international brands eyeing the market.

Although running a business in Tanzania is challenging compared to her native Sweden, Englesson says one can adapt by taking a long-term approach, and being patient.

“It has been stressful but I don’t think I can go back to being an employee after this. It is a very creative process and you constantly see new opportunities and try to solve challenges. The one thing I can say for sure: it is never boring.”