Mawazo Challenge Health Hack Weekend

Our soon to be doctors engaged in this exciting and insightful event for capacity building.

students from Universities of Health Allied Sciences working with mentors at Sahara Ventures office.

So here’s a thought: Could technical area of expertise partner up with technology, innovation and entrepreneurship to come up with visible, feasible, and reliable solutions to problems in the health sector, particularly in Tanzania?

This past weekend, Sahara Sparks partnered with TBI (Tanzania Bora Initiative) and TAMSA (Tanzania Medical Students Association) to organise The Mawazo Challenge Health Hack Weekend, being the first phase of the Mawazo Challenge project. Mawazo challenge project is under Human Development Innovation Fund (HDIF), a UK Aid established project that aims to identify and support innovations that have the potential to create social impact in education, health and water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) across Tanzania.

With a focus on market driven solutions, HDIF catalyses the development, testing and scaling of innovative models of service delivery, information and communication technologies for development (ICT4D), and product solutions in health, education and WASH. They are the main funder of the project and among the attendees that weekend was Mr. Joseph Manirakiza (HDIF Tanzania team lead, ) and Emma Davis, who stood as a judge during the pitching sessions.

This exciting, insightful, yet head-cracking event combined together young, smart and energetic students from Universities of health and allied sciences all over Tanzania. It challenged our soon-to-be doctors to discover problems residing in the health sector, using their technical expertise about human health, coupled with enough human energy, to discover and define problems residing the health sector, brainstorm ideas and develop solutions with prototypes.

The Teams:

These talented university students collaborated and formed six teams:

Team Afya pamoja (Referral made easy):

These esteemed youngsters came up with an app for simplifying referral procedures to specialists and hospitals, looking to solve challenges involved with the referral systems and access to public and private health specialists.

Team Phamlink (Medicine Retailing Solution):

Team Phamlink introduced an idea of a web and mobile platform to solve complications when ordering drugs from wholesalers to retailers.

Team Mama Network (Are You Pregnant? Be Informed):

Due to Lack of Real Time Reliable Data and Information about health facilities, Mama network came with a solution that will help pregnant women have easy access to information of their concern allowing them to make informed decision.

Team iMama (Every Birth Matters):

Team imama ideated designing a chatbot to help reduce maternal mortality, solving the problem of insufficient education on maternal health ,pregnant women face complexity during prenatal, natal and postnatal leading to maternal mortality.

Team Amka Kijana (HIV is Real, Be Informed, There is Hope.):

There is high prevalence of new HIV infections among youths. To solve this problem, team Amka Kijana came up with an idea of making use of artwork to convey messages on new HIV/AIDS infections, Through the use of visual arts (animation), Tv, and digital media series ,they would Create awareness on HIV/AIDS Services.

Team Ongea na Daktari (Afya kiganjani):

providing easy, appropriate, and convenient services on medical health using cellphone centers.

Three teams won that weekend, giving them direct advancement to the next phase of the project, which is the Mawazo challenge bootcamp. The other three teams will have take their chances competing with 320 other ideas submitted to Sahara Sparks for vetting to make the final 30 teams that will compete in the boot camp.

The Judges, mentors and Tools:

Coming up with an idea out the blue can be quite challenging; to facilitate great innovation, inspire critical thinking, and diversify brainstormed ideas, these teams were introduced to different high-end ideation, customer realization, team building, and prototyping tools. Furthermore, they were guided and screened by experienced mentors and judges, including Jumanne Rajabu Mtambalike, the CEO of Sahara Sparks, Ismail Biro from TBI, Dr. Elizabeth Mapela — a retiree in the health sector with over 40 years of experience in the field, and others. They formed a perfect intelligence bank from which our doctors to-be used to refine their ideas.

Tips Of Advice From The CEO:

The CEO of Sahara Sparks had the following words of wisdom:

An Idea Itself Isn’t Sufficient:

An idea by itself isn’t enough, you need to put it in a furnace, test it with real customers, make small tweaks and changes to adopt customer requirements. If you intend to later turn it to a business, you need to run it by the lean model canvas. How? Through different ideation, customer realization, team building and prototyping tools.

Know Yourself So You Can Grow:

Realise your strengths, learn to accept your weaknesses. You need to know yourself so you can grow, both as a person and a leader. Intellectually, leaders should drive themselves to be 10 years older than people of the average age.

Time Is Of The Essence:

Learn to create time for important things.

It’s Not Only About You:

Careerwise, think higher than your personal needs. Don not only create a job for yourself, create employment for others as well. It’s not only about you, it is also about the people around you, the people in your area, your country and the community at large.

Work Outside Your Technical Area Of Expertise:

Learn to work and think outside your technical Area Of expertise. To understand the business ecosystem, you need to think outside the box. If possible, kick out of the box! Learn to work outside your comfort zone.


Jichanganye in english translates to “socialize”. Don’t only work alone, collaborate with others so as to gain different opinions and ideas, and also share your own as well.

Fail Fast, Fail Cheap, Fail Reasonably:

“Do not wait too long to realize you have failed (fail fast). Do not invest all your capital in one go on a venture you know very little about (fail cheap). Lastly, what matters more than the mistakes you make is what you are able to learn from them; failure is an opportunity for you to learn (fail reasonably).” — Jumanne Mtambalike


Through the success of this event, TAMSA (The Tanzania Medical Students Association), TBI, and Sahara Sparks Events Limited are proving to be an effective quadruple, with Sahara Sparks expected to mentor the three winning teams advancing to the boot camp phase. Tune in for more on the Mawazo challenge project.

by Mathew M. Rugaimukamu