SME summary: Taking digital by the horns

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By Gadiosa Lamtey

Dar es Salaam. Fear of fierce competition from big, established players in the market was one of the reasons Michael Mallya, 30, and Kennedy Mmari, 29, were initially reluctant to start their own businesses.

But as the technology progressed, they gathered their courage and took full advantage of digital technologies to grab their share of the rapidly growing market.

The two young men have embraced digital technologies and are urging government and industry stakeholders to invest more in this industry as it increasingly becomes a basic need around the world – creating jobs for millions of young people around the world. .

Mr Mallya and Mr Mmari told The Citizen’s PME Digest magazine that they currently own “Serengeti Bytes,” a PR, marketing and technology company that was established two years ago – and, as is , young people have started to benefit from its services.

“To build a more inclusive digital society and the future of youth in general, we urge leaders in government, the private sector, academia and other key stakeholders to ensure that young people are equipped with the skills digital skills needed to be successful in the workforce, ”says Mallya, the company’s COO.

According to them, tens of millions of future jobs are expected to require significantly better digital skills, such as software and application development, and although young people often see themselves as ‘digital natives’, most do not. not the right digital skills.

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When the two met during their days at the University of Dar es Salaam (UDSM) about eight years ago, they had no idea that their meeting was the start of a business that would not only be their careers, but create jobs for many others, and help fight unemployment in the country.

With an initial capital of around 50 million shillings – money the two had saved over two years after graduation – they were able to incorporate Serengeti Bytes. But, although they say they are satisfied with the stage they have already reached so far, they point out that they have not even achieved five percent of their overall vision.

How they started

They told Citizen’s PME Digest: “I remember there were three of us in second year at University – Kennedy, Nancy and I – when we thought about creating an integrated communications agency. We even imagined a name for the company, MINAKE, representing the first two letters of our names, ”they explain.

“Unfortunately, we couldn’t pull off everything we needed to start the business at the time, but the idea stuck with our minds. Now we know we needed so many things, we needed experience, capital and business skills to start a business, but at that time a dream was all we needed ”, they say.

“We both got into employment. I worked as a public relations and communication specialist for one of the leading human rights organizations, where I honed my public relations and advocacy communication skills. Kennedy has worked with various companies and organizations and has also consulted with government institutions in various areas of public relations, digital and strategic communications, ”explains Mallya.

“Serengeti Bytes was officially incorporated and started operations in 2018 and by mid-2019 we had a well-furnished office and everything was ready to be competitive in the market,” he says.

Business and success

“Our business is focused on providing services in the areas of communications, technology and innovation, marketing, advertising, public relations and digital services such as systems and software development”, said Kennedy, president and chief executive officer.

Mallya says the Serengeti Bytes – where “Serengeti” was taken from the famous Serengeti National Park in Tanzania, and “Bytes” is a digital data term.

“We believe the world is limitless when our creative endeavors are combined with digital technologies, and our larger vision is to build Serengeti Bytes to become a global technology company with a pan-African perspective,” Kennedy said.

He adds: “We strive to ensure that communication is conducted in a strategic and effective manner. We have been successful in having an impact on our clients and partners in various missions and we have continued to enjoy the trust of many others.

According to them, even after investing some 50 million shillings, they are nowhere near 5 percent of their vision, but they are happy to have started and to keep moving forward with each passing day.

Currently, the company employs eight people and plans are underway to increase the number. They also work with consultants who are particularly young people, which results in the sharing of wider opportunities for mutual growth.

In 2020, they proposed a unique initiative, the “Tanzania Digital Awards”, to highlight digital initiatives in the country.

This initiative has helped to increase their visibility and gain acceptance in the market.

“We pride ourselves on being creative, innovative and having an impact on the agency, which we see as a missing puzzle in the strategic communications sector. “

Another secret to success is the ability to deliver results and the desired impact on customers.

“Our solutions are designed to specifically meet the specific needs of our customers, we always avoid a one-size-fits-all approach which is standard practice in the market. We also do our best to integrate digital technologies and traditional strategies to produce the best mix, ”says Kennedy.

Why young people need to fully embrace digitization

Although young people often see themselves as ‘digital natives’, most lack adequate digital skills to fill vacancies.

“To build a more inclusive digital society and the future of youth in general, we personally urge leaders from governments, the private sector, academia and other key stakeholders to take action to ensure that young people have digital skills necessary to be successful in the job market, ”Kennedy reiterates.

“This includes adopting policy and legal frameworks that support digital learning, jobs and the ease of doing business. We believe that it is through digital transformation that Tanzania can really make the most of its human resources and have a chance to achieve sustainable progress in all aspects, ”observes Michael.

Challenges and future projects

“We focus on understanding the dynamics across the ecosystem among stakeholders. We work with stakeholders – end users or service providers – to develop solutions and strategies that solve problems and generate value and opportunities for impact, ”notes Michael.

Both are expected to grow not only in Tanzania, but across the continent and in the world at large.

“It is still too early to disclose; but we currently have a presence in Ghana and a representative in London, UK as part of a vision for expansion. In three years, we believe we will have built more solutions across the region, ”Mallya told PME Digest.

Speaking about the competition, Mmari says she is indeed rigid when it comes to the integrated communications business. Fear of the big guys and the competition were some of the things that made them hesitate at first.

“It’s hard for anyone to start as an entrepreneur and build a new business from scratch. As young entrepreneurs, we face many challenges, sometimes financial, age stereotypes or sometimes social rejection in a way.

“But, as we are still young, we have the craziest ideas and solutions that can really work, if they get the support they need … And they can have a huge impact on the development of our country,” explains Kennedy with a broad smile.


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