Modern technology is the new normal; it is the currency for development in the 21st-century landscape, and for Tanzania, this means developing and launching solutions that decipher community problems including getting access to your local professional and proficient electrician, plumber, hairdresser or even IT expert.
In this case, Fundi Popote—a tailored web-based platform simplifies life by giving clients across Tanzania the liberty to book appointments with various sorts of highly-qualified fixers instantly to attend to their electrical, housing, plumbing or even computer-related problems.
Fundi Popote reveals how potential and digital-hungry Tanzania is, hence—the platform innovator, who is a young female ICT-enthusiast, who displays her talents well and shows how the nation of 55 million stands to benefit from community digital solutions.
Information and communications have been growing in Tanzania, as the number of people going online via their mobile phones hit 83 per cent out of 23 million internet users, and internet penetration rose to 43 per cent from 40 per cent four years ago, according to information from Tanzania Communications Regulatory Authority (TCRA).
The Tanzanian Commission for Science and Technology (COSTECH) has been a breeding ground and a spark of motivation for thousands of innovators in Tanzania, and through its Digital Innovation Youth Empowerment Programme, they are promoting young innovators by giving them opportunities to explore their entrepreneurial talents within the digital sphere.
Tanzania has seen vital digital technology proponents such as the national leading mobile network, Vodacom Tanzania, taking the torch in promoting the space, by initiating a programme, “Vodacom Digital Accelerator” in partnership with Tanzanian technology and innovation platform, Smart Lab.
It is through such programmes running yearly, that Tanzanian innovators are recognised and supported through establishing their startups in mobile, telecom, fintech, media, health, education and e-commerce sectors.
According to Smart Lab partner, Edwin Bruno, the Tanzanian innovation community levitated from a meagre pool of hubs in 2019 to more than 45 in 2019.
The service is not only web-based but also has a direct number and a social media link that clients with no smartphones can use to request fixers.
Launched in 2018, Fundi Popote services are now reachable across six regions, and provide renewed zest to the world of fixers in Tanzania, as the startup founder, Queen Mtega, argues that “the startup aims at helping every citizen with a faulty item and every professional worker who has no exposure to clients. It builds a bridge of trust between the experts and professional skilled workers within the society.”
The service has managed to serve over 250 clients with fixers engaged in different kinds of trade. The startup is also looking forward to incorporating more fixers into their system, as currently, they have a repertoire of only 60 permanently subscribed and with a contract.
Driven and inspired by the United Nations (UN) sustainable development goals (SDG’s) Fundi Popote has also partnered with an ICT college to fetch competent technicians and boost its credibility with clients over time.
To enhance and cement professionalism, the fixers are paid by the startup (minus the startup’s 20 per cent commission). Queen argues that “this way, Fundi Popote ensures that the work is done accordingly and in due time for both parties to be satisfied by the arrangement”.
The two-year-old startup anticipates expanding its base across the nation and incorporate more diverse ‘fixing’ talents into its inventory. This includes training aspiring women technicians to create an even playing field.