Three innovative social entrepreneurs win Rwf24.6m Tigo Changemakers contest cash

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Hirwa (middle) receives a dummy cheque of his prize money from Amoateng (second left) and Reach for Change's Madzima-Bosha (right). Left is ICT ministry's Irere. / Joan Mbabazi.

Three innovative social entrepreneurs have won a total Rwf24.6 million in this year’s Tigo Digital Changemakers competition. Origene Igiraneza, Alain Patrick Irere Hirwa and Bobson Rugambwa will receive Rwf8.2 million each, thanks to their outstanding and innovative projects. The winners are also to access global networking and business training from Reach for Change incubator’s programme, according to the organisers.

The Tigo Digital Changemakers competition is conducted by Tigo Rwanda and Reach for Change, a local NGO that supports social entrepreneurs.

The contest is aimed at supporting young social entrepreneurs with great digital projects that benefit communities.

Winning projects

Igiraneza’s O’genius Priority, is a digital platform to help students and 78 per cent of Rwandan schools to get access to practical skills through digital labs that bring the learner in a virtual reality as well as inspire children, especially girls, to join science and technology. The firm’s O’genius Panda simplifies subjects labeled as ‘difficult’ through simulations, animations and applications in real life. It also provides an opportunity for teachers to make extra income through online classes.

It was the third time lucky for the young entrepreneur, who has participated in the previous two editions of the competition that is now in its sixth year.

Bobson Rugambwa’s MVend project is a mobile based core-banking system that enables village savings group members to build their financial track record by saving digitally. It is a complete mobile banking suite for savings groups that give them the ability to save, borrow, pay bills, and transfer funds electronically on their mobile phones, while maintaining the group’s three-person authorisation via three-PIN transaction approvals.

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L-R: Rugambwa, ICT ministry’s Irere (3rd left), Amoateng, Hirwa, Reach for Change’s Madzima-Bosha (2nd right) and Igiraneza. / Joan Mbabazi

The third project, Tubiganire TV, is a mobile platform that stimulates Rwandan parents to open up to their children and get involved in their sexual reproductive health experiences. Hirwa, the brain behind that initiative said he seeks to help reduce the rate of teenage pregnancies.

Supporting innovation

Tadzie Madzima-Bosha, the Africa communications manager at Reach for Change, said this year’s competition sought three social entrepreneurs with extraordinary projects that use digital tools and technology to contribute to societal wellbeing. Tigo chief executive officer Philip Amoateng said the telecom firm supports local ICT solutions that improve the communities’ welfare, create jobs and enable skills transfer through the competition.

Speaking at the event, Claudette Irere, the director general for innovation and business development at the Ministry of Information, Technology and Communication, applauded the two organisations for contributing towards making Rwanda a more conducive space for innovators. “We have a lot to achieve together in Rwanda’s digital transformation journey, including connectivity and digital for all by 2024,” Irere said.