In May 2009, H.E. Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete, President of the United Republic of Tanzania visited the Silicon Valley where he met with the President of Stanford University and top executives of technology giants CISCO, Google and IBM. That visit took place just prior to the landing of the Seacom undersea fibre optic cable on the shores of Dar es Salaam.

Since then i/o ventures (, a Silicon Valley incubator has teamed up with the Tanzanian government to establish a mentorship programme. Under this initiative, successful Silicon Valley entrepreneurs will mentor young and upcoming Tanzanian software developers at the new ICT incubators underway at the University Computing Centre and the Tanzania Commission for Science and Technology (COSTECH).

Following on the footsteps of the launch of MobileMonday at COSTECH last month, Dar is quickly shaping up to be the hotspot for innovative technology entrepreneurs.

From December 6 to 10, 2010 COSTECH will host three Silicon Valley entrepreneurs, namely:

LEILA JANAH is the founder of Samasource (, a social business that connects women, youth, and refugees living in poverty to  small, computer-based tasks that build skills and generate life-changing income. Samasource has generated over $550,000 for women, youth, and refugee workers in nine countries around the world.



PAUL BRAGIEL is the co-founder of I/O ventures.  Previously he co-founded Lyoa, a product bringing forums into the 21st Century; Mentor, the first location based social network; and Paragon Five, a game development studio specializing in console and mobile with offices in Chicago and Poland.



RUSSEL SIMMONS was the co-founder and CTO of Yelp (, a website that helps people find local businesses like dentists, hair stylists and mechanics. Yelp has grown to over 38 million monthly users and was valued in early 2010 at over $500 million.  Prior to Yelp, Russ was one of the early employees and lead software architect at PayPal.



This programme clearly marks the advent of East African talent in the global information highway, and the associated benefits to the local economy in the form of technological innovation and job creation. With Tanzania’s national fibre optic backbone already connecting the neighbouring countries, Tanzania is poised to be the Digital Information Gateway of Eastern, Southern and Central Africa.

Sillicon Valley Mentorship