At least 28 top enterprising and innovative young Rwandans have been awarded in Digital Opportunity (DOT) Rwanda’s Gera Ku Ntego Social Enterprise Competition.
In its second edition, the annual competition saw 16 innovators from 16 districts, and 12 business coaches and employment facilitators walk away with cash and other prizes during the grand finale in Kicukiro District, last week.
The competition ran under the theme, “Youth Scaling the Impact of Innovation,” and started at the district level where 48 entrepreneurs were awarded and then processed to the national competition where 16 youths with social businesses were awarded.
The first, second and third winners at the district level walked home with Rwf500,000, Rwf400,000, and Rwf300,000, respectively.
“We are happy for this year’s competition. It has been great because we have seen new ideas and innovative projects coming up throughout all the time we’ve spent working with them. This was part of giving them a platform and opportunities to showcase their potential,” said Violette Uwamutara, DOT Rwanda country director.
Robert Mwesigwa, the National Youth Council executive secretary, who also presided over the closing ceremony of the competition, spoke of the power of initiatives such as competitions in empowering the youth.
“Over the last two years, we have been working with different stakeholders to empower the youth to promote their business ideas. It is through such initiatives that young people will create more jobs for themselves and solve other problems that they face in their communities,” he told The New Times.
The awards are intended to facilitate scale up of winners’ social innovations as well as motivating them in their cause.
The competition also facilitated the creation of a programme for continuous mentorship and coaching above market linkages and access to finance.
Prosper Karangwa, who scooped the top prize, said he intends to use the prize money to train more people who will use the system.
“I am so happy for winning today, and as I’m trying to roll out this software, I am looking forward to use this money to train people who will be helping me to use this software at the sector level,” he said.
Karangwa created a mobile application that helps collect local security fees. He walked away Rwf1,500,000 richer.
Aime Lateatia Umubyeyi, who sells landrace pigs to the vulnerable, was awarded Rwf1,200,000, while Samuel Gakwaya, who makes sanitary pads out of banana fibres, walked away with Rwf 1,000,000.
The third runner-up was awarded a flat screen TV, and an Azam digital kit with three-month subscription.
DOT Rwanda also awarded business coaches and employment facilitators who created social enterprises in their communities in which they deliver DOT programmes.
Tennessy Geoffrey, who created a child development centre, was awarded Rwf800,000, Origene Igiraneza scooped Rwf700,000, while Ange Fulgencie, whose project aims at eliminating post-harvest losses, was awarded Rwf600,000.
All the three were given a six-month social innovation fellowship with DOT Rwanda.
Seven runners-up were also awarded Rwf500,000 in cash prize each.
Prior to the finals, about 919 youths aged between 18 and 29 spent three months learning about social innovation, ideating, testing, prototyping and launching social enterprises in their communities.
Participants were selected from various districts across the country.