Rwandan wins Rwf43m in continental entrepreneurship competition

Rwanda’s Christelle Kwizera has been announced one of the 12 winners of this year’s BMCE BANK of Africa African Entrepreneurship Award worth a total of $1 million.
Kwizera is one of the four winners in the innovation category. / Courtesy.
Kwizera is one of the four winners in the innovation category. / Courtesy.

Rwanda’s Christelle Kwizera has been announced one of the 12 winners of this year’s BMCE BANK of Africa African Entrepreneurship Award worth a total of $1 million. Kwizera’s start-up, VOMA Groundwater Solar Kiosks, which is engaged in drinking water purification and distribution to vulnerable communities, won $50,000 (about Rwf43 million) in the innovation category.

The 12 winners from six African countries shared an envelope of $1 million (about Rwf860 million) prize money. Eight first prize winners pocketed $100,000 (about Rwf86 million) seed capital each for their projects, while four others, including Kwizera, won $50,000 each, a statement from the organisers indicates.

This was the third edition of African Entrepreneurship Award, an initiative that aims to support African entrepreneurs. The winners were part of the 40 finalists from 19 African countries who participated in the bootcamp in Casablanca from December 6 to 10. The awards recognise the “most impactful sustainable projects” in three categories of the programme - education, environment and unchartered fields.

The winners

The other innovation category winners are Meryam El Ouafi and Badr Idrissi from Morocco, and Geoffrey Ssekatawa (Uganda).

The main prize ($100,000) winners are Louise Williamson and Paul Bartels from South Africa, Allen Kimambo of Tanzania, and Folashade Amusa and Sylvester Mujakperuo from Nigeria. Others are Adan Mohammed of Kenya, Kwame Ababio (Ghana), and Cameroon’s Flavien Simo.

The 12 winners were selected by a remarkable jury, presided by the Chairman of BMCE Bank of Africa Othman Benjelloun and composed by Gong Li, ex-chairman of Accenture, China, John-Bernard Duler, a French-American investor and entrepreneur, Marie Paul Niat, a Cameroonian entrepreneur, and Brahim Benjelloun Touimi, the BMCE Bank of Africa Group executive managing director.

More about the award

African Entrepreneurship Award was announced by Benjelloun during the Global Entrepreneurship Summit in Marrakech in 2014, and started in 2015.

Through the award, BMCE Bank of Africa seeks to spur innovative entrepreneurship in Africa. It is now in its third year with over 12,000 project proposals from 132 countries, including all the 54 African countries. More than 112 entrepreneurs have been coached and mentored by the initiative.

The initiative has enabled BMCE Bank of Africa to “concretise its vision of a growing Africa, boosted by its young entrepreneurs to bolster economic and social opportunities presented to all Africans”.

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