In Summary

Mr Zuckerberg, it is said is looking to invest or buy out M-Pesa, which even here in Tanzania, we take pride in given its relative success in easing how we do business. As a consequence of that visit and the goings-on in that meeting, I address this to both our policy makers, and would be small and micro-enterprise owners and those who would be investors.

On September 20, 2016, this columnist wrote, “Following the recent visit to Kenya by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, I happened to attend a pre-bidders conference in Dar es Salaam, where an agency of the UN -- UNCDF -- was briefing prospective applicants to a scheduled business funding.

Mr Zuckerberg, it is said is looking to invest or buy out M-Pesa, which even here in Tanzania, we take pride in given its relative success in easing how we do business. As a consequence of that visit and the goings-on in that meeting, I address this to both our policy makers, and would be small and micro-enterprise owners and those who would be investors.

Rich platform

There exists a rich platform to build a new Tanzania, more so under a new government, which seems determined to reign in graft and live within its means and not by pan-handling.

This government under President Magufuli also makes the right noise about recognising the importance of small and micro enterprises, and or if you like private sector investment.

To those with ideas, your dreams are valid. However, the validity of your dreams will depend on how much you are willing to get out of the entitlement mentality. It is always shocking to hear would be entrepreneurs and SME owners complaining about stringent terms of lenders, grants and equity investors among others, as if there is anyone in the world who would give funds free of conditions, not even the billionaires Bill Gates nor Mark Zuckerberg.

PhDs as reasons

At the UNCDF event, the gentleman who nearly brought the house down takes the cake. He cited his alleged service in senior government offices and his PhD as reasons enough, to believe that his ideas were too special that the fund managers, would never live to have such dreams.

His rant, for that is what it was, was positive in the sense that it brought out the extent to which our people feel that it is their right to be funded and that any potential funder who makes conditions stringent was 1}wasting time 2. dream stealers (sic) and have no business in “our country.”

The said UN institution is once again hoping to interest those of you who are bristling with ideas but may not have the startup funds required to make your dreams come true. The question then is, what has changed?

In my humble view very little has changed or should we say, the more things change the more they remain the same.

On the road for a whole of two months, I have interacted with may be hundreds of ordinary citizens and in the many interactions, the endless cry of lack of startup capital continues to remain top of the agenda.

Donor nations

The many I speak with continue to want the so-called rich and donor (nations and people) to give funds for startups without conditions. It is not going to happen as money is one of those things that is wrapped in conditionality’s all the time.

It helps to look at our businesses. Most of them run on a take it or leave it basis. No sooner than one is asking for breakfast at 10.15am in an bed and breakfast than you are left aghast as the plethora of rules governing no breakfast after 10am are read. It seems to be the mantra out there.

Local funding initiative

It is this mantra of we deserve, it is our right and your loss that governs the thinking and denies us the opportunity to benefit from such schemes as this United Nations Capital Development Fund, an initiative for 48 Least developed countries including the United Republic of Tanzania which is being implemented through a Local Funding Initiative to ensure the likes of NMB, CRDB among others are guaranteed well enough to fund small and medium sized infrastructure projects.

The terms are, so to speak normal. Feasibility study, market study, licensing, rights to use the land and the right staff.

And it says you need to have an idea where to get them. Nothing to get on our nationalistic bicycle about , after all there are 47 other countries where, if the initiative can work without intimidation and resistance, life will go on.

All I am saying is we need each other so let’s meet half way, not just one parties way. Nearly two years ago shall the next attendees show that we have learnt?