Mergrims Market Ltd, a Rwandan startup, is on track to win $500,000 (about Rwf364m) after successfully completing the first phase of a global entrepreneurship competition dubbed ‘Seedstars World’.
The startup beat nine other emerging enterprises at the national stage of the competition held in Kigali on Wednesday at K-Lab, a local innovation space, to qualify for a place at the finals in Geneva, Switzerland next year.
Over 50 startups submitted their proposals to participate at national level.
The company facilitates Diaspora remittances through a mobile application that connects Rwandans abroad with traders back home so they can purchase items for relatives and loved ones in Rwanda.
Louis Antoine Muhire, the CEO and founder of Mergrims, said the development presents him an opportunity to represent the country on a global platform, as well as to grow his firm.
Muhire said the Geneva ticket was a positive recognition of his firm’s efforts and the opportunities in the ICT sector.
“Having taken home the Geneva ticket doesn’t only mean celebrating, but also working harder so that we can be the next generation of billionaires. I am happy that I am going to represent the country in Geneva,” he said.
If successful at the final stage, Muhire will take home over Rwf364m for investment. His firm will tussle it out with finalist from 50 other countries.
The ICT industry has been growing steadily in the recent past, with numerous startups and enterprises emerging to develop solutions for challenges in various sectors.
Marcello Schermer, the regional manager for Africa at Seedstars World, said their decision to invest in Rwanda was partly informed by the high pace of technology adoption in the country.
“Rwanda is one of the most advanced countries in Africa in the ICT sector with supportive government policies.
There is good and reliable infrastructure in the country, making it attractive to investors,” Schermer said.
We therefore look forward to seeing the local entrepreneurs grow and reaping big through this international seed-stage startup competition, Schermer added.
The other enterprises that took part in the competition were; online marketplaces Yubeyi and Asuqu, educational platform Practice 4ne, educational cartoon-making startup Cartoon Home Network, medical consultation platform mTiba, international airtime and electricity top-up service Istayconnected, and online grocery delivery service Grocewheels.
According to one of the judges of the event, up for consideration were qualities such as business models, potential profitability, market size and scalability.
Sara Leedom, one of the judges who is also managing director of Inkomoko Entrepreneur Development- a business development company that works with emerging startups, all participants had quality pitches making it fairly competitive.
“One of the main ideas about the countrywide pitch competition is that startups can grow. As judges, we looked out for a comprehensive characteristics including the business models; potential profitability, market size and scalability, to name a few,” she explained.
Started in 2013, the annual contest is built on a network of at least 3000 entrepreneurs, 1000 innovators and 300 investors from more than 50 countries, creating a diverse environment that allows aspiring entrepreneurs to network and learn.