Public Library rooftop to host 'Innovation Village' to increase access to information

The creative and innovation industry has often been described as one that has a lot of potential but without a supportive eco-system. Part of what has been lacking is an environment to further develop their capacities and showcase their potential.
Students search for books at the Kigali Public Library. (File)
Students search for books at the Kigali Public Library. (File)

The creative and innovation industry has often been described as one that has a lot of potential but without a supportive eco-system. Part of what has been lacking is an environment to further develop their capacities and showcase their potential.

However, Innovation Village, an entity of Village Group Ltd, in partnership with the government, is in the process of creating one such space at the rooftop of the Public Library in Kayciru.  The New Times’ Collins Mwai caught up with Samantha Gateretse, Village Group’s communication manager, and Oriane  Ruzibiza, the culture director, for insights on their upcoming project. Excerpts;-

What’s the concept of the innovation space being put up?

In line with government’s vision of transforming the country into a knowledge-based economy, Village Group had an idea to create a platform that brings communities together and provides them with access to information and learning tools. We also envisaged an inspirational and educational environment where classes, workshops and events could be held and where communities could create, collaborate and co-learn.

The government has provided a space at the Kigali Public Library with a five-year subsidised lease in order to fulfill this vision. Village Group will finance, build and operate Innovation Village.

Could you fill me in with a brief background of the Village Group.

Village Group is an integrated design practice with a focus on culture, innovation and storytelling. Innovation Village is an entity of Village Group Ltd, and is based on the idea that when information is made accessible to communities, it expands the way people think and see the world, which we believe is the foundation of innovation.

What impact do you intend to have on the Rwandan creative industry, which has a lot of potential but is yet to come of age?

The continent is undergoing a cultural awakening and its young generation is at the forefront of this change. The technological era and the rise of social media have helped spread the movement and have given a voice to a conscious generation – a generation with a desire for home-grown solutions to the challenges their countries face.

We believe that Rwanda has enormous potential and ability to become a key player in this creative revolution that we are witnessing throughout Africa. This is thanks to a new generation of change makers that have embraced technology and made it more accessible.

Innovation Village will provide a platform where communities will be encouraged to exchange skills, collaborate, learn from each other and showcase their work through several mediums.

Innovation Village is developing a space that will enrich communities by inviting storytellers, innovators and educators to create and collaborate on events, workshops and classes.

What partnership opportunities is the Innovation Village seeking in the project roll out?

In order to co-create and develop workshops and programmes, we identify and reach out to a range of organisations that share our values and have existing complimentary initiatives, we will also partner with digital content developers, publishers and multimedia service providers to make their content accessible and affordable through our interactive platforms.

The Innovation Village is not a social enterprise, right? How affordable will membership be?

We want to ignite inspiration and nurture a culture of innovation as well as create a space in which our communities of storytellers, innovators and educators can create, learn and connect.

By storytellers, we mean individuals or companies that are in the business of creating, whether it is graphic design, music, crafts, video, photography, publishing, fashion, art, poetry or dance. Educators in this context are the people that use both informal and formal methods to educate.

Our goal is to make information accessible through a variety of programmes and platforms; we will introduce several different membership categories that cater for different communities and their needs.

 All packages will incorporate membership relevant benefits and we have ensured that the rates are fair and affordable.

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