We have just arrived in Zanzibar after 2 days in Dar Es Salaam. The differences to Kigali were apparent from the moment we got off the airport: It is a sprawling city, much busier, more populated and not as clean and organized as Kigali.
After a nap to recover from our very early flight we met the founder and some team members from Nala for lunch at the hotel (which was beautiful, by the sea). They are working to advance mobile payments in the region with an app that makes this solution more user friendly, and aim to provide a wider range of financial services in the future. The team was small, young and very passionate.
After the lunch we visited Zenufa pharmaceuticals – one of the 5 pharmas in the country. They explained us the challenges of operating such a technical business in a country like Tanzania, where resources are not always readily available. But according to Joanna, one of our group members who is somewhat of a pharma expert, they have managed to put in place impressive operating procedures, even when compared to more established companies in larger markets.
The evening was quite fun – we went for dinner at a place that turns into a club called Samaki Samaki (Fish Fish, literally translated). As in Rwanda, the locals proved to be quite fun and friendly people!
The next day was one of my favorites so far in terms of visits. We started with the IMF Afritec, a technical training center from the institution, and met Idan’s former boss, who gave us an extremely interesting overview of the macroeconomic landscape and outlook for the region. Afterwards we visited the carbonated drinks plant of Azam, a major conglomerate with a wide range of businesses in East Africa. It was mesmerizing watching all the production lines, and the volume of their operation is respectable – 6 production lines and warehouses after warehouses full of drinks ready to be distributed. The final visit was Liquid Telecom – a large Internet Service Provider with one of the widest infrastructures in Africa. Despite being somewhat small in Tanzania versus their operations in other countries, they were one of the key drivers of telecommunication capabilities in the country, The technical director in particular stood out for how passionately he talked about their network.
We said goodbye to Dar with a wonderful dinner at an Ethiopian restaurant (I now believe that there is nothing more satisfying than eating with your hands), and a few more drinks and a lot of dancing at Samaki Samaki again. Dar was extraordinary – populated with kind people and very dynamic and entrepreneurial businesses. We expect Zanzibar to charm us with its stylish old town and paradise beaches – more updates soon!
Pedro Anjos is a 2020 MBA Candidate at Columbia Business School