TEDx Nyarugenge: Ideas worth spreading

Kigali event seeks to spark innovation and entrepreneurship among Rwandan youth by transmitting international presentations of ‘ideas to change the world’

Kigali event seeks to spark innovation and entrepreneurship among Rwandan youth by transmitting international presentations of ‘ideas to change the world’

On Wednesday evening, on a roof top in Kiyovu, Kigali around 150 people gathered for the TEDx Nyarugenge event, a live online transmitation of the global phenomenon TED talks. TED, short for technology, education and design, aims to disseminate ‘ideas worth spreading’ through live online streamings of talks and presentations by numerous international entrepreneurs, innovators, academics, artists and change-makers. TED talks is an international phenomenon, watched by millions of people worldwide. Now TED has come to Rwanda.

Organised by The Office Rwanda, a shared collaborative work space for entrepreneurs in Kigali since 2012, TEDx Nyarugenge attracted a big and diverse crowd of high school students from local entrepreneurship clubs, artists, young entrepreneurs, volunteers and professionals. All of them coming to ‘hear and get inspired’ from innovative talks about ideas that can change the world. The theme of the night was “Disrupt! and Dream!”, and those were the messages that the organisers hope to spread by bringing TED talks to Kigali.

“The Office works from the assumption that when interesting people come together and share ideas, interesting things will happen,” explains Jon Stever, founder of The Office Rwanda. “We are organising TED talks in an attempt to engage a wide and diverse audience and, we hope that these events will give people new ideas and approaches to spark innovation and entrepreneurship in Kigali and Rwanda,” Stever explained.

Among the audience was Elizabeth Mwangu, the human capital adviser at the Rwanda Development Board, who sees big perspectives to TEDx in Rwanda. “Events like this should be spread to educational institutions in Rwanda. It is showcasing what is going on in the world and it will open people’s minds and give them new ideas. I hope it can make young people see that they can create their own jobs instead of waiting around to get hired. It’s about being innovative and trying out new ideas,” Mwangu said from her chair in front of the big screen of live-streamings.

The organisers of TEDx Nyarugenge want to spread the event to cover several areas in Kigali and around the country. “The next step for TEDx Nyarugenge is a Rwanda-based TED talks event in June. We want live speakers from Rwanda, talking about Rwanda and ideas that can bring change and innovation to the country,” Stever explains.  

Fiona Gatere, a youth mentor from Kigali and one of the participants, believes that events like TED, with a Rwandan focus are essential for students and potential entrepreneurs in Rwanda. “An event like this with Rwandan speakers and a focus on innovation in Rwanda would be a big insipiration to many youths. It will give young people something to relate to and think ‘He’s just like me. If he can do it, so can I’,” Gatere states.

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