Tanzania Selects Nutrition Sensitive SMEs Through the 2019 Lishe Accelerator

The Lishe Accelerator, launched in 2018, is a programme aimed at accelerating Tanzania’s nutrition sensitive SMEs through business development and investor readiness training. The second edition of the competition, organised by the SUN Business Network TanzaniaGAIN and Sahara Ventures ran from September to December 2019.

From a total of 55 applications (62% of which were from women-led businesses), 11 SMEs were selected to join the 2019 Lishe Accelerator programme. These SMEs were shortlisted by a judging panel, including experts in nutrition, finance and business development, who assessed each investment proposal against the following criteria:

  • If the proposal will provide meaningful benefits for the most vulnerable populations and communities
  • If the proposal is an innovative, accessible and disruptive market-based innovation in the local food system that can add value
  • If the proposal is a commercially viable investment that has the potential for larger food systems change
  • If the proposal addresses local diet quality gaps and aims to increase the consumption of safe and nutritious food.

The 11 shortlisted SMEs participated in an intensive 10-day bootcamp which provided technical support in nutrition, business development, go-to-market strategy, investor pitching and finance. At the end of the bootcamp, a pitching event was held at the Sahara Ventures offices. The aim of the pitching event was to select 5 winners who would move to the next phase of the programme. After each finalist pitched their nutrition solution to a panel of judges, Dorkin Organic, Mamaland Mushroom, Kwanzaa Ventures, Sanavita and Wakulima Food were selected as the final 5.

The 5 SMEs were then offered one-to-one mentoring on:

  • Branding and marketing
  • Financial management
  • Product research
  • Business development
  • Nutrition
  • Soft skills (e.g. pitching and presentation)

The final of the Lishe Accelerator programme took place on 12th December 2019, where 4 of the 5 SMEs pitched to an audience of government representatives, financial institutions, hub managers and other SMEs for the chance to win a spot at the Global SUN Pitch Competition. After careful deliberation, the judging panel (Sulieman Kiure, Mwalimu Commercial Bank; Mohammed Shellimoh, Seedspace; Sikitu Simon, Tanzania Food and Nutrition Council; and Adrian Nzamba, True Maisha Limited) crowned Sanavita the winner of the 2019 Lishe Accelerator programme.

The owner of Sanavita, Jolenta Joseph, started the business in the Morogoro region of Tanzania in 2017, buying and selling orange fleshed sweet potatoes. In March 2018, she expanded the business and started processing and packaging sweet potato, pro vitamin A maize and high iron and zinc beans. Sanavita will now receive further mentorship and training from BoP Innovation Center, before representing Tanzania in the Global SUN Pitch Competition in July 2020.

View more photos from the 2019 Lishe Accelerator final here.