Wasoko (formerly Sokowatch), an African B2B e-commerce startup has launched “Wasoko Innovation Hub” in partnership with the Zanzibar government.

Located in Fumba Town, Zanzibar, the new Hub will focus on building world-class tech solutions that will drive Africa’s e-commerce industry for years to come. It will be home to over 500 visionary engineers, product managers, UX designers and researchers from Africa and across the globe.

The Wasoko Innovation Hub is the first private-public partnership between an African tech startup and the Zanzibar government for “Silicon Zanzibar” – a new government initiative to attract and relocate tech companies from across Africa to the island. As part of the launch, Wasoko becomes Silicon Zanzibar’s first anchor company and official private sector ambassador.

In addition to strengthening Wasoko’s operational efficiency, the new Hub will specialize in developing tools to personalize customer experiences, improve delivery metrics, expand financial services’ options as well as collect key data and insights from across the value chain. Over the next 10 years, it is expected to secure over $15mn worth of investment providing hundreds of Zanzibaris with a wealth of employment and career opportunities.

As a Pan-African tech company, Wasoko has been looking for a location where we can bring together the best talent from across the continent and beyond to innovate and develop new products and services for our customers. While we considered more traditional centres such as Dubai and London, we were ultimately committed to the belief that technology for Africa should be built in Africa.”  Daniel Yu, CEO and Founder at Wasoko, says.

The Wasoko Innovation Hub will be part of Fumba Town’s current redevelopment scheme led by German engineering firm, CPS, which is constructing hundreds of modern residential and commercial units along a 1.5km stretch of ocean shore and is located only 15 minutes south of the Abeid Amani Karume International Airport.

The location will become the main hub for Silicon Zanzibar, which will streamline the issuance of work visas to skilled tech workers from across Africa and beyond to relocate to Zanzibar. Zanzibar is renowned as one of the world’s top tourism destinations, with direct flights to over 20 destinations across Europe, Middle East, and Africa. In order to further attract tech companies, the government will also offer strong incentives under the country’s existing Free Economic Zone program including an exemption from corporate income tax for ten years.

The launch of the Wasoko Innovation Hub marks the latest milestone in its rapid growth journey, which saw the startup named as Africa’s fastest growing company by the Financial Times in May 2022. This followed its $125mn Series B equity round in March – the largest venture financing round ever raised for a non-fintech startup in Africa. Since its launch in 2016, Wasoko has delivered 3 million orders to over 75,000 informal retailers across Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, Uganda, Côte d’Ivoire, and Senegal.