New startup hub opens in Kigali

From left: Michael Mronz, Chairman Westerwelle Foundation; Malu Dreyer, Minister-President of Rhineland-Palatinate, a German state; Vincent Munyeshyaka, Rwanda’s Minister for Trade and Industry, and Thomas Wessel, Chief HR and Labor Relations Manager of Evonik Industries at the opening of the hub. / Courtesy.

A new German-owned hub, Westerwelle Startup Haus Kigali, which opened on Monday, says it will work with local start-ups to help them grow their business.

This was announced during the official launch in Kigali, on Monday this week.

The facility is offering co-working space for entrepreneurs and a makerspace with a focus on a product design and innovation.

A makerspace is basically a hub where people with shared interests, especially in computing or technology, gather to work on projects, while sharing ideas, equipment, and knowledge.

The Westerwelle Foundation partnered with Evonik Stiftung Foundation to set up this hub in Kigali, and currently houses 22 local startups.

It is home to startups like Pikiwash (service provider for moto-taxis), BeneFactors (a local factoring firm), Sana Initiative, FinanceYou (a finance and book keeping startup), Umva (translating platform), and Ki-pepeo kids.

Michael Mronz, the Foundation’s Chairman, said that the plan involves giving a home to people who are thinking to develop their own companies and give them a chance to establish their ventures as well as build capacities.

“We will be hosting events to transfer knowledge, as well as those focusing on how to finance ideas,” he said, adding that they will work to facilitate the startups to access capital from German investors.

Already, one company that is housed at Westerwelle Startup Haus Kigali, African Renewable Energy Development (ARED), has secured capital from German investors.

Recently, ARED had raised nearly Rwf250 million from German investors via Bettervest.

For the owners, establishing a co-working space is a great opportunities  to develop the entrepreneurship ecosystem in Rwanda.

Rwanda’s Trade and Industry Minister, Vincent Munyeshyaka, who officiated at the opening, said that the establishment of the hub was aligned with the Government’s programme of promoting small and medium enterprises for job creation and for economic growth.

The hub, in partnership with the Government of Germany, has a special programme designed for women who want to become future technology-savvy. It is one of the programmes that Mronz said is training a generation of women passionate about ICT.

This is the second hub the foundation is opening having already opened  one in Tunisia.

 

editorial@newtimes.co.rw

 

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