Eleven young innovative entrepreneursfrom 18 districts in Rwanda who took part in the competition were awarded with cash prizes by Digital Opportunity (DOT) Rwanda.
This was during the third Gera Ku Ntego Youth Digital and Social Innovations competition that took place on Wednesday 27 March, 2019 at Lemigo Hotel, where 18 finalists pitched their innovations in a bid to win cash prizes.
A total of52 young entrepreneurs participated in the annual competition and were selected from 18 districts of Rwanda, namely:Nyagatare, Kayonza, Nyabihu, Rusizi, Rubavu, Nyamasheke, Gakenke, Musanze, Rulindo, Gisagara, Huye, Ruhango, Muhanga, Kamonyi, Nyanza, Gasabo, Kicukiro and Nyarugenge.
The top three winners were awarded with Frw2, 500,000 Rwf 2, 000,000 and Rwf1,000,000 for first, second, and third places respectively.
The first prize went to Sarah Flower Uwase and her initiative “She Can Code,” which trains young women in programing and web applications by organizing coding bootcamps, supporting them to develop fully functional web and mobile applications and start their own tech-based businesses.
Israel Nishimwe won second place for an innovation which transmits electrical energy from a power source to an electrical load without connecting wires.
“Ubumwe Tech Circle,” a project by Willy Nsabiyumba, received third place; the enterprise helps to create online presence for startups.
The other six finalists were awarded Rwf500,000 each while an additional two youths with innovative social and community impact solutions went home with Rwf1,000,000 each.
All of thefinalistswill also benefit from additional training in social entrepreneurship and innovation as a part of DOT’s Launch Lab programme for youth.
Prior to the final pitch competition, 52young innovators showcased their digital and social innovations to teams of judges which included representatives from the Ministry of Youth, Ministry of ICT and Innovation, Business Development Fund, National Youth Council, Private Sector Federation, ICT Chamber, Kountable Rwanda, Inkomoko, KASNEB, BIFATA, Afflix Finance and Umutanguha Finance Company. The panel of judgesselected the top18innovators who then participated in thefinal pitch competition.
“Today we are here to award the best innovators who have worked hard to get to the grand finale. These young people have been part of our program for more thansix months and have been supported in different ways to come up with these innovations. I am happy that this competition is improving every other year and many young people’s lives are changing through the competition.This year we are thankfulto our partner GIZ who sponsored the event,” said Emmanuel Nzeyimana, DOT Rwanda Country Program Manager.
Nzeyimanaadded that it was also a good opportunity for the youthto network and to showcase their potential so that they can be linked up with sponsors.
Tumusiime Moses, the partnerships and Resource Mobilization Specialist at NECDP who also was the chief judge of the competition, spoke of the criteria that the judges used to come up with the winners and why it was important to follow such.
“We considered the name of the competition,Gera Ku Ntego, which translated means reach your targets.We set up a criteria that looked at the technology based business, the innovativeness and what key problems they are solving in the community,” he told The New Times.
The awards are intended to facilitate and scale up winners’ social innovations as well as motivating them in their cause.
The co-founder of “She Can Code,” Sarah Flower Uwase, who scooped the top prize, said she intends to use the prize money to train more people. “I am so happy for winning today, and as I’m trying to roll out this program, I am looking forward to use this money to train people who will be helping at the sector level,” she said.
The Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Youth, Mr. Emmanuel Bigenimana, graced the DOT Rwanda Gera Ku Ntego 2018 National Competition as the Guest of Honor.
Addressing young innovators who participated in DOT Gera Ku Ntego, Bigenimana shared, “DOT Rwanda is a key partner of the Ministry of Youth. We appreciate their contribution and support in empowering youth in the areas of technology, employment and entrepreneurship skills. We congratulate each one of you as you are all winners, we encourage you to keep working hard and take your businesses to the next level. To those who received awards: they are not the only factors to make you succeed. Make clear plans on how to use the received funds, you also need to be good citizens and role models to other youth as you contribute to our country’s economic growth.”
After the competition, the young innovators will benefit from various additional supports fromDOT Rwanda overa four months’ period during which they will be supported tolaunch their businesses through DOT’s Launch Lab programme.
The DOT Launch Lab will provide opportunities for linkages to start up funds, ongoing mentorship, coaching and additional business skills, access to financial services, business registration and acquisition of standards certificates, participation to business competitions and awards.
About Digital Opportunity Trust (DOT) Rwanda:
DOT Rwanda is a movement of daring young social innovators who are creating opportunities and transforming communities. DOT programs support youth to deepen their understanding of the community needs and challenges, and provide them with the tools, knowledge, networks, and support to launch sustainable social initiatives that create positive change.