Rwandan startups tipped on innovation

Minister for Youth, Rosemary Mbabazi speaks during the launch. / Courtesy

Segal Family Foundation has launched its first cohort of the Social Impact Incubator in Rwanda, a program supporting young innovators who have designed smart solutions to address Rwanda’s most imperative issues in technology, education, health, waste management, agriculture among others.

The launch of the program that took place on May 15, at Westerwelle Startup Haus Kigali, was to celebrate the start of the capacity building that the innovators are yet to have, which aims to boost their knowledge about their innovations and how best they could impact society.

All of the selected innovators briefly presented their works to the audience and  some of them included Creativity Lab which challenges children to create solutions using robots and computers. It was created by IIdephonse Mungwarankarama.

Rwanda Clot Awareness Network, which is run by Christine Ashimwe was also part of the other innovations presented and this local NGO works to raise awareness about clot related diseases.  

Caroline Numuhire, the Program Associate at Segal Family Foundation said the program was first initiated in 2013 in Burundi and then in 2016 in Malawi and has so far supported over 80 young champions.

“We identify people who are coming up with solutions concerning community issues, we select them basing on how the specific innovation is responding to the community problems,” she said.

“We work with innovators to make sure that they get the right support and connections that can amplify their impact at the community level. Our purpose is work with these champions to build their organizational capacity in awarious and  effective ways so that even other investors and donors can can be inspired to work with them”.

Numuhire noted that the innovations differ in areas of intervention and the major focus of the Social Impact Incubator is to support these young leaders to create robust systems and structures guiding their work, be it Strategic planning, Communications, Monitoring and Evaluation, to name a few.

 

She further added that of those who applied online, only 14 were selected for the program. They will attend series of capacity building and ecosystems building activities to shape their programs, have tailored coaching and mentorship and will be helped in creating the right connections to the funders.

“We are starting the first training in the week of  June 10, it will be a two-day training where we shall meet the innovators in groups then as individuals and start these strategic conversations .The individualized support will  help understand the technical needs of each innovation so that we enhance their businesses and organizations.

These champions are scheduled to graduate in November, this year. Then we shall start a new intake,” Numuhire stated.

Rosemary Mbabazi, the Minister for Youth urged social entrepreneurs to do what it takes to make an impact on the society. She added that social entrepreneurs can be impactful in society by starting outstanding initiatives and give life to vulnerable communities.

Mbabazi explained that the reason social entrepreneurs exist was to give to those who don’t have, however, they need an environment that nurtures their capacities as problem solvers to help them build sustainable solutions and help them access funds for their initiatives.

The Minister also advised the innovators to take part in various programs, explaining that there are youth connect programs that empower young people in entrepreneurship, so far there are 622 networks with young people countrywide, and this year, people have created about 8,309 jobs countrywide.

She also said that the government in partnership with UNDP-United Nations Development Programme was working towards enabling youth create jobs to bring solutions to the community.

Other innovations formed by the champions include; Acts of Gratitude, Imagine We, Generation Rise, Love and Hands, Mind Transform Technologies, My Green Home, Rural Development Initiative, Rwanda Biosolution Ltd, Saye Company Ltd, Shenge Children Organization, Tantine Group, and Volta Irrigation.

 

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