A team of young, Tanzanian tech-savvy communication professionals is dreaming big. It seeks to usher a new dawn in media business management in Tanzania by optimising employee output and offering consultancy to media businesses on how they can operate with a minimal budget but still attain their goals.
Hamasa Media Group (HMG) has been hard at work. Under the leadership of seven innovators, the group is not just training individual journalists but also media stations across Tanzania.
Even with their hands seemingly full, the group seeks to get more organisations (mainly media businesses) to join their bandwagon.
The ultimate goal is to adopt efficient management methods, optimising employees’ potential and prudent time management to increase output.
Their activities are broad, ranging from communications innovation, Information Communications and Technology (ICT), media monitoring and the maintenance of data systems, video production and corporate publication.
According to the Managing Director, Baraka Kiranga, the aim of partnering with media houses is to train journalists on data-driven stories to help raise public accountability to reduce road accidents in Tanzania.
HMG has offered services to local and international organisations, such as the World Health Organization (WHO), Japan International Corporation (JICA), Legal and Human Rights Centre (LHRC), Tanganyika Law Society, Tanzania Media Foundation, and Wildaf-Tanzania.
HMG is among the Innovators in Residence, fine-tuning their media viability ideas at the Media Innovation Centre (MIC) to up their stake and become more proficient.
They also believe the training at the MIC will help shore up their skills in media monitoring, an area Kiranga says is crucial for the advancement of democracy.
Kiranga noted that their trainings for individual journalists and media houses had helped transform businesses. He cited the example of Kings FM in Dar es Salaam. They’ve helped develop job references and mentorship programmes and put systems for funds expenditure in place.
“This task can be overwhelming, and as such, the team had grown,” he added.
HMG has since expanded and now boasts between 8-10 journalists with diverse backgrounds.
Journey to MIC
In 2020, HMG made its first attempt to join the MIC cohort. But unfortunately, they were not successful and retreated to the drawing board.
“We applied to join in 2020, but we were not lucky to make it, so we took time to test our ideas – what is working and what is not working in the media ecosystem,” Kiranga said.
“Then, in 2021, we tried our luck again. We had taken time to evaluate and hold discussions, ideation and so forth. When the deadline arrived, we submitted our pitch aware that it would be tough,” the young tech-entrepreneur recalled.
“We believe that at the MIC, there are lots of resources which we can access and also interact with other experienced people.” He said access to funding comes with the benefit of an introduction to alternative ways of doing things. “I think this will help us in the Tanzanian ecosystem.”
With their experience and training, they have redesigned their business approach, offering solutions to clients and partners. Luckily enough, Baraka says, they now have print publications willing to try their solution.
“Some of our team members will travel to Arusha, Morogoro, to meet some of the radio stations willing to try out our solutions. This was after introduction to the human-centred design approach,” he noted.
But it has not been all smooth sailing for these innovators.
“The challenge is staying relevant; if you’re not careful, you may deviate,” Kiranga said, adding that they hold weekly meetings to review their performances to keep themselves in check.
“We also go on biannual retreats – in July and December – to take stock of what we have already done and make projections for the New Year.”
He described digital transformation and innovation as a new concept in Tanzania and regretted that some media managers are not welcoming as the fear of the unknown consumes them.
The group hopes to sharpen its fundraising strategy to attract new partners.
“We hope to have 70 radio stations that will adopt our business model approaches. Also, within the Hamasa team, we want to create something relevant that is working in Tanzania. This calls for new skills through capacity development.”
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