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Spotlight MEA: Entrepreneurship in Fintech in Tanzania and Wider East Africa

East Africa, such as in Tanzania, has a thriving and growing fintech space. Analysing the region can show the spirit of entrepreneurship in the fintech and wider tech scene. The FinTech Times sit down with Salum Awadh, CEO of SSC Capital.

Salum Awadh is a corporate advisor and investment manager
Salum Awadh is a corporate advisor and investment manager and the CEO of SSC Capital

Salum Awadh is a corporate advisor and investment manager with expertise in corporate finance, strategy, research, investment, M&A, funds management, venture capital, financial markets, Islamic finance, PPP, risk management, Pension Funds, Governance and institutional development.

He is the CEO of SSC Capital, a corporate advisory and investment-banking firm headquartered in Tanzania, with East African coverage

He is also the Founder of Wengi Equity Crowdfunding, Tanzania Venture Capital Network, Tanzania Angel Investors Network, Shirkah Invest (Robo Advisor), and Mbadala Impact Fund.

He currently serves in more than 6 bodies including UN Global Compact (Tanzanian Chapter).

He is a mentor, angel investor, and author of three books including “Dare or Die” ,  “Smart-up your Start-up” and “Where is the Money”.

For our global audience, can you explain what the digital and fintech landscape across the globe currently looks like

With COVID-19 disrupting the global supply chain and many business models, the digital and Fintech businesses became great performers and grew exponentially in just a matter of months, scaling their solutions and generating more investor value.

Fintech continues to attract more investment and interest of new disruptive business models, from how we consume financial services to how we invest. Africa is rapidly coming to the scene as we witness the mobile technology revolution led by M-pesa being leveraged to unlock more Fintech solutions on the continent. In 2019, we saw a total of $2 billion invested in African techs, with 41% going into Fintech. The future is more interesting.

How does this alter in Tanzania?

Tanzania is still playing catch-up in the Fintech space, despite seeing a few interesting businesses taking shape and beginning commercialising their business models.

Mobile money still leads the transformation and local ecosystem is busy now with more different Fintech businesses being launched. However, most of them remain small, coupled with huge early stage funding gap that we are trying to address in the market. We still have huge regulatory vacuums in many aspects such as crowdfunding and Islamic finance, which we think are important to contribute towards growing the industry

How have you developed your subject matter expertise and helped to share it across in your home country?

Oh wow, I have been building this expertise for 11 years now, by reading, attending global knowledge events, learning from best practices, and importantly learning by doing from our own practices. I was able to project many developments in the early days, by also learning developments from other parts of the world, and began to build local knowledge and awareness on unlocking some of the developments you see today, especially around funding and capacity building to other players.

The expertise I have built, has helped us today to launch and manage the angel network, equity crowdfunding platform, and soon we will be launching our Robo advisor app as a digital marketplace for saving, investing, insurance and retirement.

What are future trends and predictions you see happening in the region? 

I see a lot of potential in the space of personal finance, as many countries are graduating into middle economies including Tanzania, there will be a huge demand for more investments, with one local major Telco opening up its API for other developers, I hope to see massive developments in Fintech developments, built on this mobile money infrastructure.

With a Muslim community accounting for almost half of country’s population (and majority in the Middle East), we predict to see more demand of sharia-compliant financial services, from banking to investing, this will stimulate the emergence of Fintech businesses in the space of digital banking , investment platforms to digital currencies, all needed to simplifying the access and usage of such services.

At our company level, we want to be at the centre of this transformation, that’s why we are launching our Robo advisor app which will have sharia compliant investment options, we plan to continue building our equity crowdfunding platform, and also be active as investors in promising Fintech start-ups

We plan to scale our operations and presence in other African markets and be active in Dubai, with a target of operating in 5 African markets by 2025.

Any advice or recommendations you would give to other future Fintech companies and entrepreneurs based in the Middle East & Africa (MEA) region? 

I think we all agree that Fintech ecosystem in the MEA region is changing rapidly, we see more hubs and accelerators creating new Fintech businesses, the local investor community is growing, and governments are issuing new regulations needed to unlock the industry.

It is important, however, for entrepreneurs and Fintech companies to promote locally-driven business models and solutions that have relevance with the local communities, the “copy and paste” business models wont work in the region, we must develop our own versions of digital and Fintech revolution.

Author

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