From its global newsletter to its major annual events, ANDE members have access to a multitude of platforms for promoting their work and co-creating knowledge with other members. The ANDE Member Spotlight is a series of short, interview-based blog posts highlighting an ANDE member organization and any new projects, recent investments, or ongoing research with interesting learnings that add value to the ANDE community.

Anza was founded eleven years ago on the belief that innovators will transform Tanzania. With core programming focusing on capacity building, access to capital, and connecting communities, Anza recognizes the positive and significant impact that SGBs have and will have on Tanzania’s economy. Anza’s approach in meaningfully targeting local small and medium enterprises that are seeking growth opportunities leverages its deep understanding of entrepreneurship in Tanzania and the strength in keeping it local with clear goals to grow businesses and improve livelihoods.

ANDE chatted with Anza’s Fundraising and Partnerships Manager, Alyssa Shamshudin, to discuss how the organization sees its role in the SGB sector, its thriving accelerator programs, and its vision to amplify the power of the private sector and entrepreneurs to transform Tanzania’s economy – keeping sustainability, gender equality, and environmental and climate action at the forefront.

Credit: Anza (Alyssa Shamshudin)

Tell us about Anza and the role it plays in the SGB ecosystem.

Anza was founded on the belief that entrepreneurs will transform Tanzania’s economy. We recognize that SGBs have a very significant and positive impact on emerging markets, through job creation, contributing to inclusive economic growth, and providing access to life-improving goods and services to underserved populations. We understand the challenges faced by many of these growing enterprises and provide them with personalized and strategic capacity building and affordable capital through our Anza Growth Fund. Our offerings are intensive and tailored to build the capacities of entrepreneurs and unlock capital opportunities, through one-to-one mentoring and consulting, hands on skills training, and mentorship.

Anza has a very deep understanding of Tanzania as a country and the entrepreneurs that we serve. We are a team made up of 100% East Africans. Our mission currently, is to serve the Tanzanian population by offering exclusive services to the Tanzanian ecosystem. This approach allows us to focus our efforts to ensure we have a bigger impact.

Tell us a little bit more about the entrepreneurs you support.

Anza was founded to support businesses in the ideation and incubation phase. Over the years, we realized that investing both in technical assistance and financing in existing enterprises who are seeking growth could enable a much larger impact. We therefore made a strategic shift from the acceleration phase to support and grow businesses to scale locally. This is how we started the Business Foundations Accelerator in 2015. We then expanded around 2018 to focus on high growth potential ventures through our Investment Readiness Accelerator program. We focus on six main impact sectors: education, health, financial inclusion, clean energy, agriculture, and WASH (water, sanitation and hygiene).

What are you the most excited about?

Right now, the most exciting thing for us is that we are able to host an investment readiness program this year! Even though it was a very difficult year to raise funds, we’re starting recruitments in Q4 of 2021. We are hoping that by January 2022 we will have selected twenty businesses for the Investment Readiness Accelerator (IRA).

Companies in our IRA program have the potential to become very big. They tend to have innovative products and business models that will support them to take on growth capital and reach large markets. Some businesses that came through our strong cohorts in the past are actually doing very well now. For example, Kazi Yetu, a women-empowered agri-processing business that makes tea products, is now moving into the European market by way of Germany and Switzerland. The entire business model is built to empower women through creating sustainable employment for them. The tea processing and packing factory is 100% women, and their raw materials are all sourced locally from smallholder farmers all over Tanzania. We see so many great entrepreneurs with business models that create value across the entire agricultural value chain with products that can be marketed to a very large market. This is the business model—the value addition across the agricultural value chain.

How do you see your Investment Readiness Accelerator program evolving in the future?

We pride ourselves for our focus on Tanzania and our expertise about the region. We know Tanzania, we want to continue learning about Tanzania, it’s businesses and how to ensure underserved populations needs are catered to. There’s a lot of good work we can do here, and we want to expand our reach through accessing new regions. We hope to grow and expand our outreach to include more businesses, who will align with our vision, grow with us. and engage in our very intensive post program support.

We also see that to grow, we need to expand our network, expand our vision, and expand the narrative that people have of Tanzania. Tanzania is changing, and as a result, our entrepreneurs and our businesses are open to foreign investment. As we adapt to changing markets, we want to make sure that businesses have access to capital, the ability to leverage capacity building skills, and the technical assistance to ensure that they can grow effectively.

Credit: Anza

If one of your members was asked to describe Anza and the work that it is doing, what do you believe is something they would they say and why:

They would say that our product is accessible, highly inclusive, and personal. We were recently listening to testimonials that were collected in Kiswahili and one thing that stood out is that Anza accelerators are very inclusive programs that work with a wide range of people with a variety of skillsets all over Tanzania.

Credit: Anza

Our entrepreneurs come from all walks of life, each with a personal story about their innovations. It’s the diversity of our entrepreneurs that promotes learning and growth amongst our businesses, as well as our team.

What elements of this platform tie into ANDE’s urgent issues?

We tie in with ANDE’s focus on gender equality, climate and environmental action, and decent work very well. Over the last two years, attendance in our programs has been 40% female. This is quite high, especially in Tanzania, given that many female entrepreneurs have less opportunities available for them to grow their businesses. We hope to continue to see this number grow by running gender-specific programs. Where we can, we set aside our funding so that at least 8 of 20 businesses that come into our Investment Readiness Programming are women-led. When planning our programs, we take into consideration how many women we can engage with as part of our cohort, as well as ensure we have women expert mentors.

On the climate front, since the sectors that we serve—agriculture, sustainable energy, and WASH—tie in directly with climate change mitigation, we are specifically looking for businesses that have innovative business models which are able to tackle climate problems. Examples include providing alternative energy solutions such as solar-powered batteries for fishers or farmers who tend to use diesel-powered engines or lighting. These are just some of the factors that we look for when we’re looking for businesses to bring into our programs.

Tell us how you have or will use the ANDE network.

Two areas we are really focused on are partnerships and funding. We’re really keen to use the ANDE network to engage with organizations similar to ours across the region. Many of our programs are heavily dependent on the funding that we can acquire. 100% of our funding goes into our programs and entrepreneurs. We want to be able to show potential donors and potential partners the value of our programs and develop long-term relationships over time.

What are some takeaways that might be helpful to the rest of the ANDE community? What are some best practices they could incorporate into their strategic initiatives?

For us, it’s about the quality of our programming over quantity. If we think that having a large size of people in a program will limit the quality of the services that we can give each individual entrepreneur, then we just won’t do it. Our small, focused, and targeted impact reaches more people indirectly. By helping 20 businesses grow to a stage where they can create 100 new jobs each, that’s 2000 new jobs created. If we’re able to grow market share for each business by 10%, that’s a million people reached. So yes, we really want to stress how important the quality of the service that we’re offering is, as opposed to the quantity of people we’re able to reach via our programming.

Tell us how ANDE members can get involved in your work.

I think it would be mutually beneficial to have conversations with ANDE members to learn more about their successes and failures. It would be great to have dialogue around scaling up programs, fundraising strategies, and making programs more sustainable, to ensure that we don’t ever run into the problems that we ran into last year, when we just had no funding to run a program. No one could have expected what happened [with the COVID pandemic]. I don’t believe this is the first and last time that these unprecedented events are going to happen. It’s crucial not only for us, but for the entrepreneurs we serve to become more adaptable and resilient to changes. To prepare for these changes, we need to have a good network of people and organizations, and we believe that ANDE can create that network for us.