Mapping the Tanzanian Fintech Start-up Landscape

  • May 27, 2021

  • Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

Emile Ndayambaje

Communications Consultant

Written by

UNCDF Tanzania

Inclusive Digital Economies Team


Information on fintech start-ups in Tanzania is fragmented.

To assess the capacity and needs of fintech start-ups, UN Capital Development Fund, with the Tanzania Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Commission and start-up accelerator, Sahara Ventures, carried out a fintech landscape assessment. This is an initial step towards developing a central repository of information on fintech start-ups operating in Tanzania, alongside promoting innovation in the country.

Tanzania fintech start-up landscape

The assessment identified 33 fintech start-ups currently operating in Tanzania. While most fintech start-ups are involved in lending, financing, payments, or remittances, some are branching out into other sectors, including savings, personal finance, investments, and insurance.

Number of fintech start-ups in Tanzania by product
Source: UNCDF internal

The findings of the landscape assessment were categorized according to each of the four core attributes of the fintech ecosystem – talent, demand, capital, and policy and regulation.

The fintech ecosystem

There is a limited availability of affordable and skilled local talent in the Tanzanian fintech sector. Fintech start-up founders want mentors with practical start-up experience to guide them. To address this challenge, ecosystem facilitators may need to rethink the support provided to fintech start-ups and consider partnering with experienced fintech founders in the wider region beyond the country.

The lack of openness between fintech start-ups and large corporates, for fear that innovative ideas could be co-opted, has limited the number of partnerships in the sector and the speed at which these partnerships gain traction. Work needs to be done to facilitate increased linkages between fintechs and large institutions, including financial service providers. Such linkages could support fintechs to leverage partner resources to test and refine products to ensure market fit. In turn, launching products with the right market fit could prove to be a win–win strategy for both the fintechs and their partners, leading to increased customer acquisition and increased revenue.

Similar to other African markets, funding for fintech start-ups in Tanzania is limited. Potential foreign investors are not knowledgeable about the fintech sector, partly due to the fragmented and limited information on the sector. Initiatives such as this fintech landscape assessment lay the groundwork for creating an up-to-date and easily accessible database of fintech start-ups, to identify funding gaps and opportunities.

Lastly, there is limited direct engagement between fintech start-ups and relevant regulators. Ecosystem facilitators could carry out strategic dialogues between fintech start-ups and regulators to ensure that the needs of start-ups are adequately considered as regulation around innovation in Tanzania evolves.

The landscaping exercise has highlighted some of the key enablers and inhibitors in the Tanzania fintech ecosystem and proposed recommendations to move the ecosystem forward. The report includes insights on potential areas for fintech start-ups, financial service providers, regulators and other ecosystem facilitators to collaborate and address some of the identified challenges. Following the fintech start-up landscape assessment, UNCDF is working closely with other market actors to align on the tools available to map the Tanzanian innovation ecosystem.

In line with its Leaving no one behind in the digital era strategy, UNCDF Tanzania plans to leverage the insights from the assessment in its engagement with fintech start-ups, financial service providers, regulators and other ecosystem facilitators to harness fintech innovation and technology to empower Tanzanians in the coming years.

To see full report, click here.