Ian Tarimo is a visionary and passionate youth leader from Africa who strongly believes in education as a powerful tool for solving community challenges and shaping a better future for all. With over a decade of experience in youth leadership, social innovation, project management, organizational development, and economic empowerment. In 2021, he was awarded the Leadership Impact Award by the Young African Leadership Initiative (YALI), a program funded by the US State Department, and was also among the top ten young people to receive the Builders Africa Future Award by the African Diaspora Network. Ian was selected by the US State Department to participate in the Youth Townhall during The Summit for Democracy in 2021. As a producer, he received the Best Animation Film award at the Tanzania Film Festival in both 2021 and 2022. Ian is passionate about using innovative storytelling to address community challenges, and he is the Founding Executive Director of Tai, a social enterprise that produces educational and entertaining content, including 3D animations, radio dramas, music, and comics using data, storytelling, and media technology. Tai Tanzania has received awards for its social innovation and community impact from UNFPA, UNICEF, UNESCO, and HDIF/UKaid.
Technology is just a tool: Startup founders should think beyond technology and the space they operate in. Before starting anything, you need to invest in yourself, be self-aware of what you want to do, and have a purpose in life. Think beyond your startup; consider what legacy you want to leave to the world that people can benefit from. It’s important to recognize that technology alone is not enough to achieve our goals; it must be used in combination with other skills, knowledge, and resources to achieve the desired outcomes.
Focus & Purpose: If you are everywhere, you are nowhere. Self-awareness is key. By focusing on a particular area of passion, you can develop expertise and become known as an authority in that field, which can help you stand out and build a strong brand. You might have multiskilled and have potential to do and work in a lot of fields. The key is choosing what you are most passionate about, stick and build that, as you grow you can choose to extend to other fields of interest in an organized and focused way.
Internship is a kind of Mentorship: Taking the initiative to kickstart your career is essential, especially when starting out in a new industry. To gain valuable experience and expertise, it is recommended to seek out companies that align with your career goals and interests. A good way to gain mentorship and coaching from experts in the field is to work as a volunteer or intern for the company. This allows you to observe how professionals operate in the industry and understand how the business functions. As a volunteer or intern, you can learn essential skills and knowledge that are not taught in classrooms or training programs, and gain hands-on experience in a real-world setting. This experience will help you build your resume, develop your professional network, and potentially open up new opportunities for future employment. In addition, working as a volunteer or intern also allows you to showcase your talents, dedication, and work ethic, which could lead to recommendations, referrals, or even a job offer. It is crucial to approach this opportunity with a positive attitude, a willingness to learn, and a strong work ethic to make the most out of the experience.
Identification (workmate, target & Gap) : The process of identifying key elements or factors that will contribute to the success of a project or initiative. In this case, aspects such as workmate, target, and gaps to be addressed. By identifying workmates, targets, and gaps, businesses can better understand their stakeholders and create strategies that are more likely to meet the needs of their intended audience. This is a process, and has everything to do with ones surroundings. The environment, people you have grown, studied or worked with, etc.
Mentors/Advisors: Get a team of mentors/ board of directors/ advisors who will be helping you to see things differently; you should have that separation from management and the board of directors to keep things in check, especially in developing systems. Whether you are a founder on an NGO or Startup, it is very important to have guidance from those with experience and expertise, especially those working in the specific field that you and your team have chosen.
Specialization: Partner with people who have different key strengths so that you complement each other, identify what each person wishes to achieve in life so as to establish common vision and then make a plan that will hold you in focus. For example, 10 years ago, me and my collogues had so many plans, they were way beyond. We thought we could work hard and retire in 10 years. At that time we did not have any salary, an office, projects and such. It was a ridiculous plan but it gave us focus and passion. Another important aspect, make roles according to needs of what is supposed tot be delivered, even if you are five people, don’t make the roles according to who is available, do it according to what is to be delivered. Then spread the roles to the available five people. Then you can have someone like IT & Communications Manager, when you grow and add to the team, this personnel will hand over either IT or Communications to the new member and each will focus and make sure the are more effective in their roles.
Create Systems: A startup should not rely on one person for its survival. A system in place keeps the startup in check. Identify key components such as compliance, finance, administrative and the like. For instance, as a startup you need to make sure you have complied, you can have an assigned lawyer who can help you in that aspect.
Money is not Everything: Money is very important, but it should not be an all time agenda. The success of a startup relies more on sustainability of what is done to create quality, such as the team inputs and needs, the quality of products, meeting needs of the clients then money will come. If and when you always think of Money and disregard other aspects no matter the amount of money you are given in this world it will run out and you will never be sustainable. That is why participating in accelerators that’s only intent is to focus on money as opposed to Startups survival, they tend to stagnate or destroy the mentality of the startup as opposed to nourish and improve it.
To read more about our reports featuring Startups in Tanzania https://bit.ly/ImpactTechTZ2021-Report and http://bit.ly/TECHTZ2022