Online platform Bizfundi is helping Tanzanian startups grow by linking them with business advisors and other useful information.
Launched as a website in late 2017 and now also available via Android app, Bizfundi has over 3,000 registered users across Tanzania. Incubated by the USAID-funded Enabling Growth through Investment and Enterprise (ENGINE) programme,
The platform helps to facilitate commercial linkages and the dissemination of useful information for the benefit of small business owners. The core service is a searchable directory of Tanzanian business advisors, trained by the USAID ENGINE programme, that allows business owners across the country to quickly and easily see who is offering which services, the experience and qualifications of the service provider, and to connect with them directly if interested.
“Initial user testing showed there was also an interest in users also being able to do B2B searches, so we added that in as the next feature. Over time, we have opportunistically added additional services that would be useful for small business users and give them more reasons to come back to the site,” Scott Bennett, technical director of private sector development at ENGINE, told Disrupt Africa.
“These include a Tanzanian business news feed, a podcast player with curated content, a searchable directory of online training courses, an online marketplace, video tutorials for using various features, user dashboards, small business loan facilitation, and a searchable directory of bank and MFI branches.”
Bennett said the market for paid business advisory services in Tanzania was quite thin, with many small enterprises not aware of the services available. Bizfundi looks to solve this problem, and is also working with a number of financial institutions.
“We are now in the process of adding their profiles to the platform as well to better facilitate financial linkages for small businesses,” Bennett said.
Though the platform is currently only serving Tanzania, it has been designed to easily serve other markets in the future. Bennett said Bizfundi was about to enter a new phase, which would see the selection of a local host organisation to continue managing the platform after the ENGINE programme is over.
“The platform is not taking in revenue currently but there are a number of possible ways to monetise services to draw revenues, such as tiered memberships, charging for targeted messaging, advertising, and showcasing certain users,” he said.
“We are undertaking a process of selecting a local host that will take ownership of the platform beyond the ENGINE programme. As part of that process they will be proposing their vision for making the platform financial sustainable.”