Industry Sponsors for a Software Incubator
Mbeya University of Science and Technology (MUST), http://www.mustnet.ac.tz
, is located in the Southern Highlands of Tanzania. We have been working with this university over the past year and had faculty visits in both directions. They only became a university in recent years and are slowly establishing graduate programs; they are still very much a vocational school. While the large majority of faculty and students are male, the university strongly pushes enrollment of female students and hiring of female faculty.
The Southern Highlands are a beautiful, green part of the country, and Mbeya is a friendly and very safe city. There are several lodges within walking distance of the university, which offer attractive bed-and-breakfast housing. The area has not been explored for tourism, but as opposed to the traditional tourist spots in the northern part of the country, risk of insect-borne disease is minimal, as temperatures are much lower (approaching freezing temperatures from June to August). The area is also poor, even compared to the rest of the country; for better or worse, they are far from Dar es Salaam in many respects.
Many of MUST’s graduates cannot find jobs after receiving their degrees, they go from graduation directly into unemployment. There is no industry or notable business in the area (except for a cement factory serving the region), partly because shipping goods in and out of Mbeya is marred by long transportation routes and corruption in Dar es Salaam, the only significant cargo port (sea and air) of the country.
To provide jobs for their own graduates, the university wants to push entrepreneurship; they recently hired a coordinator for this initiative, who also happens to be an IT specialist. The university has room to expand, as they own a large property on the outskirts of the city. Given the transportation situation, I see software as the most viable way to start businesses. While the whole university currently only sits on the equivalent of a DSL connection, there are two fiber optic backbones running through the city, so software products could be brought to market with the Internet is an opportunity equalizer. Unfortunately, faculty members at MUST are currently not in a position to teach modern software techniques; many of them only have bachelor’s degrees themselves and no industry experience.
My hope is to find industry sponsors for a software incubator. Based on my visit and conversations, it looks like one dollar is worth about ten dollars in Tanzania when it comes to cost of living, services, etc. Even small-scale businesses (including marketing through app stores and game platforms) would make a huge difference in the lives of MUST graduates. The approach will need industry volunteers to provide software training and business expertise to provide help with startups. I was hoping to find students and/or faculty to work with me in identifying industry sponsors and in close collaboration with MUST faculty and their entrepreneurship initiative to start building this incubator project.
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New York City FC are an expansion team who joined MLS in 2015. They are jointly owned by the New York Yankees and City Football Group, which owns Manchester City in the English Premier League. NYCFC recently started its third competitive season after reaching the playoffs in 2016. Their team roster includes former FIFA World Cup winners David Villa (Spain) and Andre Pirlo (Italy), as well as a number of promising, young American players.
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