Local social entrepreneurs that use technology to improve society stand to win millions worth of funding to expand their projects, thanks to ‘Tigo Digital Change-makers’ competition unveiled on Tuesday.
The contest, that is being conducted in partnership with Reach for Change, a non-profit organisation, aims to support social tech entrepreneurs to develop their ideas into sustainable ventures.
“We want to develop a network of social tech entrepreneurs; those people who can identify problems in their communities and create solutions,” Chantal Umutoni Kagame, the Tigo Rwanda deputy chief executive, told young entrepreneurs during the launch event at kLab, in Kimihurura, Kigali.
Kagame said it is through such interventions and mentorship programmes that tech start-ups can become sustainable and profitable enterprises. Pierre Kayitana, the telecom firm’s head of corporate responsibility, said only business ideas that have the potential for expansion, are financially sustainable, can create greater social impact, and those that can address financial and digital inclusion challenges of communities, will be funded.
“This edition targets prototypes (ideas that have been tested), unlike the previous ones, when we considered business ideas. We are focusing on prototypes because we want to support social tech entrepreneurs who are already implementing their project to help them expand and become sustainable to ensure greater impact,” Kayitana said.
Last year, over 1,500 tech entrepreneurs applied for the annual contest, and only two winning pitches were chosen.
However, this time round, four innovative digital initiatives will be selected and pocket Rwf7.5 million each to transform their projects into profitable ventures. The winners will also get business training and mentorship at Reach for Change incubation centre, as well as access to a global network of other social entrepreneurs.
Tech enterprises are growing at a high rate in Rwanda, and experts say competitions like ‘Tigo Digital Change-makers’ have played a big role in helping them to commercial their ventures.
Dominique Uwase, one of the beneficiaries of Tigo Digital Change-makers competition, said such competitions challenge tech enthusiasts to bring the best out of themselves and provide solutions that improve their communities.
“These competitions challenge us to produce solutions that enhance communities. Besides, it has helped me develop my self confidence and grow my company,” added Uwase, who also heads Imagine We, a publishing firm that promotes literacy.
Fiona Buchanan, from Reach for Change, said the competition has had immense impact on both social entrepreneurs and the communities where the projects are implemented.
“Social tech entrepreneurs have been financially empowered and were able to inspire huge social impact through their projects,” she said. Since 2012, over 92,000 people have benefited from the contest projects.
How to apply
The application process opened on October 18 and closes November 15. Qualifying applicants will be announced on November 30 and, thereafter, they will pitch their ideas before a jury that will select the social tech entrepreneurs to benefit from funding and mentorship support this year.
About social entrepreneurs
Reach for Change invests in innovative, early-stage social entrepreneurs who are addressing problems faced by children, youth and women in seven African countries – Rwanda, Ghana, Senegal, Chad, Ethiopia, the DR Congo, and Tanzania.
Social entrepreneurs are individuals with innovative solutions to society’s most pressing social problems.