The Human Development Innovation Fund (HDIF) has been a major investor in the innovation ecosystem in Tanzania, with funding from UK aid. Through its Institutional Capacity Building programme, HDIF aims to strengthen innovation hubs in Tanzania. Recognising their valuable role in the innovation ecosystem, the programme aims to increase their impact and sustainability.
As one of the earliest innovation hubs in Tanzania, RLabs is well aware of the challenges of sustainability. RLabs was originally created as the Iringa Living Lab in 2013 through the TanzICT programme, and later joined the global RLabs community. It's not easy transforming a good idea into a sustainable social enterprise and the team recall many ups and downs along the way. Seeing the transformation among young people joining the programme kept the team going when they worked for many years without funding.
RLabs has now been awarded a grant of £80,000 through the Business Model Improvement track, to scale up Grow Leadership training, strengthen systems and income-generating streams. Our target is to generate 34 million TSH (£11,000) in 2020 from our enterprises - Maker Space, Youth cafe, and agrihub. We have the extra challenge in the current context of reinventing the Grow Leadership programme for delivery online - though everything we design now will benefit the programme when we return to face to face activities.
Along with the funding, RLabs will benefit from technical support from the experienced HDIF team. Yusuf Ssessanga, Director of Innovation commented: "The HDIF programme brings us back to our roots working with Kristiina Lahde, who was the original mentor for RLabs in 2013 through the TanzICT programme and is now mentoring the HDIF-funded hubs in 2020. We've come a long way since those days, but this grant is a major boost for RLabs to take us to a new level."
Throwback to the beginnings of the Iringa Living Lab in the TanzICT programme, 2011 - 2015