Twenty-three young entrepreneurs from different parts of the country over the weekend took part in a mentoring initiative by Bank of Kigali’s BK Hackathon for inclusion, a digital initiative that seeks to empower youth to come up with solutions that impact the society.
The two-day challenge was organised BK Group’s Digital Factory aimed at disrupting social and economic inclusion in Rwanda using modern technology and human-centered design.
Participants formed groups and shared ideas through presentations on how they can use technology to address problems facing refugees’ socio-economic lives with lack of access to finance.
Regis Rugemanshuro, the Chief Digital Officer of BK Digital Factory, said the bank initiated the event to make sure that young innovators can realise their potential through exchanging ideas and propose solutions that can impact society.
“At BK we are a big fan of the youth, we also want to promote and encourage entrepreneurship. As a financial institution, we want to be a problem solver, have an entrepreneurial attachment and seek opportunities to fund,” Rugemanshuro said.
“We brought together the youth who share a passion to solve problems using technology and we are always available to support, mentor and help anyone who comes to us with a clear idea. And if one is here doing their presentation and we realise that some of the solutions presented have commercial viability and can solve problems faced by a certain group of community, then we can support them,” he added.
Many of the solutions proposed by the teams sought to showcase how refugees can be integrated in the community and at the same time raise awareness of opportunities around them.
Many of the proposed solutions have potential with commercial viability but also address a specific problem that is impacting youth of the countries across the region.
Many of the solutions are designed to help refugees who would be using them to better their lives, get integrated in host communities and have access to social and economic development programmes.
The challenge brought together participants from the IT domain, mainly developers, designers, data scientists, product owners and business analysts.
“We want to create space for innovation and wish we can do this more often as part of our commitment to support the youth. We wanted to select a few who qualified based on the criteria we had set, to bring them together and give them a chance to meet and exchange ideas and collaborate and create a brilliant problem-solving innovation,” Rugemanshuro explained.
Two best teams were rewarded.
Fulgence Muhirwa, a student at African Leadership University and a participant in the challenge, said the initiative helped the youth from different backgrounds to share ideas on how to come up with digital solutions for refugees.
“It is an opportunity for the youth to have a platform to express their problem-solving ideas that can bring social and financial impact to refugees with credible financial history that banks can count on to decide whether a refugee can have access to finance or not,” he said.
He said, with solutions presented at the competition, refugees will be able to get free devices that can help them collect data in their communities, which financial institutions can use to grant them access to finance.