Market creating-innovation bootcamp opportunity for Rwandans

We’re excited to announce that the session of the Market-Creating Innovation Bootcamp from The Legatum Center for Development & Entrepreneurship at MIT, the Clayton Christensen Institute, and Ventures Platform is happening in Rwanda on 2022 June 27, 28 & 29.

The Market-Creating Innovation (MCI) Bootcamp is an eight-session learning program designed to empower innovators with principles and frameworks necessary to create new markets that make products affordable. The MCI Bootcamp is best suited for early-stage entrepreneurs with an operating business. The Bootcamp curriculum will be taught over a three-day period. Following the Bootcamp training, participants will join a network of market-creating innovators across Africa and have access to customized learning sessions with experts and entrepreneurs.

Application Deadline: May 16, 2022

Boot-camp: J2022 June 27, 28, 29

Bootcamp Participant Eligibility Criteria / Target Audience:
 Early-stage entrepreneur with established business or idea
 Willingness and eagerness to learn
 At an early enough stage in their venture where they can apply the lessons to their business model (seed stage)
 Founder or top management team member. We encourage Founders to apply and participate.
 Venture is operating in Rwanda, candidate can be Rwandan citizen or resident
 Ability to participate in sessions over 3 days
 Fluency in English

 If you have questions, please contact the MCI Bootcamp team at  mci.bootcamp.help@minict.gov.rw

CLICK HERE TO APPLY

www.minict.gov.rw

[Rwanda] CcHUB and Google unveil 9 Startups selected for the Fintech Incubation Programme

Nigeria’s technology innovation centre Co-creation Hub (CcHUB) in collaboration with Google, Ministry of ICT and Innovation Rwanda, and Mojaloop Foundation has announced the nine startups selected for the Fintech Incubation Programme. 

The Fintech Innovation Project which consists of the Fintech Incubation Programme and other developmental programmes is a part of the ongoing efforts to turn Rwanda into the Fintech hub for Africa with Mojaloop as the national payments switch. The programme aligns with Rwanda’s ambition to drive inclusive economic development by leveraging technology.

The selected startups are

  • KudiBooks; a payment and accounting software for non-finance and non-accounting professionals targeting SMEs across Africa. They help users send and receive payments from their preferred financial institution within Kudibooks.
  • Food Bundles; is leveraging digital technology to improve market links for smallholder farmers and meet the growing demand for fresh food produce. The platform helps farmers participate in e-commerce, get paid on their mobile money, and more! 
  • Quiqpay; is leveraging digital technology to improve market links for smallholder farmers and meet the growing demand for fresh food produce. The platform helps farmers participate in e-commerce, get paid on their mobile money, and more! 
  • Bafana.io; This amazing startup is giving over 1200 African artists and creatives a personal page where they can easily share their work and a digital wallet to collect tips/payments from their fans around the world.
  • Uplus Mutual Partners (Uplus); is a digital group financing platform where people can efficiently raise funds and savings with their family, friends, and colleagues. 
  • PesaChoice; is a financial technology company that focuses on data-based lending. The startup offers short term loans without the requirement of collateral.
  • CentWise; aims to unlock financial access for micro traders such as street vendors and hawkers by building alternative collateral products. The company converts financial data into bankable profile insights.
  • PayingTone; is a marketplace that provides ecologically trackable products and services on credit. The platform brings a digital product passport technology to enable a gamified ecological footprint tracker for recurring consumption customers.
  • Exuus; is a FinTech company working towards achieving universal financial inclusion for both the unserved and underserved through technology. The company’s flagship product SAVE is a digital & inclusive wallet that allows users to manage both their savings (individually and/or in saving groups) and spendings.

Over the next three months, CcHUB will be supporting the teams to achieve product stability and scalability, market readiness and investment. They will be able to leverage mentorship from industry and domain experts while taking advantage of Google products and Mojaloop.

This first cohort of the program will conclude with a demo day in July, 2022 where the startups will present to investors through the CcHUB syndicate. 

cchubnigeria.com

Rwanda launches Fourth Industrial Revolution Center

The Rwandan government has consistently and deliberately worked to nurture progressive technology-oriented ideas from its youthful population.

In 2019, the country launched a locally built-from-scratch high-tech smartphone, the first of its kind in Africa.  Made by the Mara Group, the Mara X model and the Mara Z model became the first smartphones fully built in Africa.

The recent launch of Center for The Fourth Industrial Revolution(C4IR) marks yet another milestone for Rwanda’s technology space. The Center is expected to accelerate the country’s digital uptake by acting as a hub for innovation and growth.

“The vision of this centre is to shape the trajectory of Rwanda’s digital transformation through progressive technology governance that is agile and human-centered, in order to respond to the most pressing challenges for us as a country and for the broader benefit of Africa. “ Said Paul Ingabire, Rwanda’s Minister of Information Communication Technology and Innovation.

The project was undertaken in partnership with the World Economic Forum(WEF), part of its mission being to help in the formulation of the country’s laws and policies regarding artificial intelligence.

“The launch of this center is enabled by investments that we, as a country, have been making in science and technology. I hope the centre will build on this by making the Fourth Industrial Revolution an equalising force, and contributing solutions to some of today’s most pressing challenges. We are very happy to have the World Economic Forum as a partner in this crucial and other endeavours,” Rwandan President Paul Kagame during the launch of C4IR.

Rwanda has seen substantial growth in its technology uptake, making it a competitive hub for investors. Efforts by the government and its partners to support innovation have seen a sharp rise in innovative products meant to solve various challenges for the country and the continent.

“Our continent has a unique competitive advantage which stems from an undeniably entrepreneurial spirit that is built-in to our young generations.” Said Ingabire. “Through focused investment and policymaking, we can harness this spirit to solve problems that address underserved communities who make up the majority of the world’s population.”

www.c4ir.rw

[Kenya] Payment option company Lipa Later selects Hotpoint as new retail partner

Lipa Later, a payment option that allows customers to purchase commodities through affordable monthly instalments has on-boarded Hotpoint as a new retail partner. Hotpoint appliances is Kenya’s premier supplier of Home Appliances and Electronics.
 
Hotpoint Appliances Ltd was established in 1984 with its first store located in the Sarit Centre shopping mall in Nairobi. Currently, they have 9 stores across Kenya and a fully-fledged online store selling a wide range of global brands including LG, Samsung, Bosch, Ariston, Kenwood, Delonghi, Nutribullet, Nutricook and their own Von offering consumers the global brands choice under one roof. Hotpoint Appliances have a range that includes TVs and Home Entertainment, Fridges and Freezers, Cookers and Ovens, Small Kitchen and Home Appliances, among others. Over the last year, they have introduced a range of customer aspirational experience products such as JBL, Apple, and Nikon in an endeavour to ensure that the consumer gets the very best of choice from them. 
 
According to Lipa Later’s CEO, Eric Muli “We are always listening to our consumers’ needs and requests and strive to make sure we have the right partners for the different products our customers are seeking. We are very happy to be onboarding Hotpoint Appliances and the range of different household and electronic products they bring to the table.”
 
According to Research & Markets, the Kenya home appliances Market attained a value of USD 184.48 Million in 2018 which is expected to increase to USD 363.92 Million by the end of 2027 growing at a CAGR of 7.88%. The demand for home appliances in Kenya is increasing on account of significant rise in per capita disposable income coupled with an influx of high-end appliances in the country. Additionally, demand has been growing due to the significant growth in the working women population, driving the demand for appliances such as Washing machines and Refrigerators that make life easier. 

www.lipalater.com

[Rwanda] SADA kicks off with launch of first National digital academy

Smart Africa’s capacity building arm, The Smart Africa Digital Academy (SADA) in partnership with Rwanda’s Ministry of ICT and Innovation have launched a national digital academy in the country, marking the official kick off of in-country implementation of the initiative. The agreement is contained within a MOU signed today between the Smart Africa Alliance and the Rwanda’s Ministry of ICT. This follows the continental launch of SADA that took place in the Republic of Congo last month.

A pan-African dynamic learning ecosystem, SADA aims to improve digital skills qualifications, employability, and meet the emerging talent needs of African citizens. The national digital academy will support the uniquely identified digital skills priority needs at the national level. Furthermore, such national digital academies will soon be rolled out in Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana and Tunisia.

In 2021 ahead of this official launch, SADA implemented capacity building activities in Rwanda where more than 500 security forces were trained under SADA’s ICT Skills & Capacity Building Spectrum. 461 command students and staff in Gako as well as 71 Senior Officials in Nyakinama were enrolled and successfully completed a training in Digital Literacy which covered modules such as Computer and online essentials, online elaboration and cyber security.

As part of next steps, Smart Africa and the Ministry of ICT and Innovation will continue to engage with the key stakeholders to implement the identified initiatives under the SADA Rwanda framework.
Planned initiatives include training and certification of Government technicians in advanced computing, training of teachers and Agri entrepreneurs as well as regulators, with the support of partners such as GIZ, World Bank, Intel, HPE.

Commenting on the launch, Mr. Lacina Koné, the Director General and CEO of Smart Africa said: “Rwanda is one of the pioneers of digital adoption and has been doing an amazing job in improving digital skills for its citizens. We are pleased to contribute positively to the nation capacity building through the launch of SADA in Rwanda.”

“Digital skills are the cornerstone of the digital transformation that we seek to attain. Our partners recognize that as proven by their vital support to this important initiative,” he added.

Hon. Paula Ingabire, Minister of ICT and Innovation who graced the launch thanked Smart Africa and said “We welcome this transformative partnership with Smart Africa and we are delighted to be among the seven countries where this programme was piloted. Rwanda is keen to develop digital skills across the entire spectrum and we hope to leverage this programme to equip our citizens with digital skills in different sectors to increase their participation in the digital economy.”

Since its start of operation in August 2020, focusing on the Capacity Building for Decision Makers (CBDM) module, SADA has trained over 2,000 policy and decision-makers across 26 countries in trending digital transformation topics including Artificial Intelligence Use Cases, 5G Connectivity, Data Protection & Privacy, Rural Broadband Policies, Security Technologies, Regulatory and Innovative Sandboxing Environments, Data Centers and Cloud, Digital Identity for Underserved, ePayment, etc. The objective is to reach over 22,000 trained beneficiaries by 2023, supported by the SADA In-country implementation wave.

www.minict.gov.rw

Google and Tony Elumelu Foundation support 1 mln more African entrepreneurs

Google and the Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF) have announced an inaugural Google.org Fellowship to provide 1 million more people in Africa with access to TEFConnect, as part of TEF’s mission to support young entrepreneurs from all 54 African countries. Nine full-time Google employees, including software engineers, UI/UX researchers and policy experts, will work with the Foundation to upgrade the TEFConnect platform.

TEFConnect already provides over 1 million African entrepreneurs with tools, market partnerships, and access to coaches and investors for small businesses. The fellowship builds upon an initial USD 3 million grant by Google.org to support the 2021 TEF Entrepreneurship Programme to enable 500 African women to start or expand their businesses. The TEF Entrepreneurship Programme is a USD 100 million initiative that has supported over 15,000 African entrepreneurs.

The Tony Elumelu Foundation is a philanthropy venture to support African entrepreneurs, catalyse economic growth, eradicate poverty and create jobs.

TEF has disbursed over USD 85 million in seed capital to date to support small business growth across Africa.

With African entrepreneurs raising more than $4 billion in funding in 2021, more than double the $1.5 billion raised in 2020, it’s clear investors around the globe are waking up to the continent’s potential. For some, like philanthropist Tony Elumelu, this growth is the validation of a long track record of backing African entrepreneurship.

Through the Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF), he has helped empower African entrepreneurs from across the continent. To date, TEF has distributed more than $85 million in grants for seed capital, and supported more than 1.5 million entrepreneurs from all 54 African countries through its proprietary digital platform, TEFConnect.net. Google is similarly enthusiastic about African startups and has supported them with funding, mentorship and skills development, among other things. That’s what makes it so exciting that TEF and Google’s paths are once again converging in 2022.

Last year, Google.org committed $3 million to the TEF to support an additional 500 female entrepreneurs across the continent. To further support the effort, this year, nine Google employees from Africa and Europe will devote six months of their time and expertise to TEF as part of the first Google.org Fellowship in Sub-Saharan Africa. Composed of engineers, user experience (UX) specialists and business and marketing managers, these Googlers will work with TEF full-time, pro bono, to build a new TEFConnect platform, equipped with new tools to help entrepreneurs access the resources they need to succeed.

We hope to support TEF in reaching one million more African entrepreneurs through the new TEFConnect, expected to launch later this year. The improved, more mobile-friendly TEFConnect platform will give those entrepreneurs access to a catalog of more curated educational resources, and more avenues for funding.

Additionally, as the world kicks off a month of celebration for International Women’s Day, Google.org and The Tony Elumelu Foundation want to mark the occasion. As part of these collective celebrations, we will convene policymakers, private sector and entrepreneurs to engage in a discussion about entrepreneurship on the continent. We will hear from female entrepreneurs who have benefited from the Tony Elumelu Foundation’s support, as well as from notable leaders.

As the year 2022 progresses, we want to play a larger role in supporting the world’s next generation of entrepreneurs. Africa’s citizenry is youthful, optimistic and enterprising. There is so much to be gained by leveling the digital playing field and creating possibilities that will raise the ceiling for the continent’s population.

By bringing together people from the private and public sector and supporting entrepreneurs in areas that will make the most difference, we can go a long way to helping Africa’s entrepreneurs reach their full potential.

www.tonyelumelufoundation.org

www.blog.google

Microsoft announces international digital camp for girls in science

As part of the events planned for this year’s International Women’s Day on March 8, Microsoft will host a three-day international digital camp targeting girls in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). The initiative, which is entirely virtual, provides an opportunity to connect with girls from Africa and North America for two-hour workshops scheduled to take place between March 7th and 10th.

The Microsoft International DigiGirlz Camp is organized in collaboration with Fair Chance Learning and is designed to give middle and high school girls hands-on experience with technology, workshops to help them bring their ideas to life, and opportunities for cross-cultural collaboration and networking. The program targets girls aged between 11 and 17. 

Young women can learn about the various opportunities available in the high-tech industry, gain hands-on experience, and learn from peers and other women already in the field by participating in the Microsoft DigiGirlz Day. The theme for this year’s camp, is lifelong learning.

“The youth who grasp today’s tech will change tomorrow’s world. Right now, women lack a clear pathway to technological experience and resources. At Microsoft DigiGirlz, we’re helping girls across the globe—and especially those in under-represented communities—learn the skills they need to realize their passions in a tech-filled future,” said Wanjira Kamwere, Microsoft Africa Technology Office’s Business Development Manager, when announcing the program. 

Student registrations are accepted for enrolment on a first come, first served basis. Event content and curriculum may be geared for specific age groups, so applicants are encouraged to check the target audience before enrolling a student in a DigiGirlz program. 

The DigiGirlz registration form must be completed by an adult aged 18 or older. The parent or legal guardian of attendees under the age of 18 may complete the registration form to register the student for a DigiGirlz program.

“The camp is open to girls of all skill levels. It provides hands-on workshops that are led by supportive instructors who can help you increase your abilities. For girls who may have already taken technology classes in school, the camp workshops will provide you with quick exposure to new technologies to help enhance your knowledge,” added Wanjira.

Wanjira Kamwere explained that DigiGirlz events are designed to provide a gender specific approach to introducing girls to career opportunities in technology in a safe setting that is attuned to addressing specific biases and challenges that might impact their experience. However, event participation is open to anyone, regardless of gender identity, who is aligned to our mission to provide an environment that encourages girls’ participation in technology.

Research has shown a sharp drop-off in women who initially study STEM subjects. Women leave STEM disciplines in disproportionate numbers during their studies, during the transition to the workplace and even during their careers. Mentorship programs such as the DigiGirlz can help encourage women to pursue these careers. 

www.microsoft.com

AfricaTech awards to spotlight the next generation of african innovators

Viva Technology and the International Finance Corporation (IFC) announced a call for applications for the first edition of the AfricaTech Awards, a pan-African initiative developed to recognize and support the most innovative and impactful tech start-ups across the continent.


Entrepreneurship has been a key driver of economic growth in Africa, promoting competitiveness and fostering job creation, particularly among young people. According to reports from Briter Bridges, investment in African tech start-ups reached $4.9 billion in 2021, marking a significant increase from the $2.4 billion invested in 2020. Despite growing interest from investors, this is still a fraction compared to the funding that start-ups received in other parts of the world – for instance, in 2021, over $100 billion was invested in European start-ups and about $330 billion in start-ups in North America. Moreover, a lack of infrastructure and inadequate regulations often present additional challenges to the scale-up of start-ups across Africa.
 
“Africa is buzzing with innovative tech solutions that can help address climate change, promote food security, and expand financial inclusion,” said Makhtar Diop, IFC’s Managing Director. “Yet over 80% of African start-ups report difficulties in accessing funding. Initiatives like the AfricaTech Awards, which bring together entrepreneurs, governments, and investors, are key to attracting the resources and support that tech start-ups need to scale their innovations across the continent and beyond.”
 
The AfricaTech Awards will recognize African start-ups that are driving innovation and development impact in three main sectors – climate tech, health tech, and fintech. Participating startups will have until March 25, 2022 to submit their applications. In May, with support from Viva Technology and IFC, a panel of industry experts from our knowledge partner Deloitte will pre-select the top 45 applicants. The final winners in each category will be announced during the 2022 edition of Viva Technology, taking place on June 15-18 in Paris and online.
 
Each of the three category winners will benefit from increased visibility and access to the networks provided by Viva Technology and IFC, including select one-on-one meetings with leaders and top executives in the tech industry.
 
For Viva Technology Co-Presidents Maurice Lévy and Pierre Louette and Managing Director Julie Ranty: “We have been impressed by the quality of African innovations during our various on-site roadshows and in our meetings with the 1000+ African startups that have already taken part in VivaTech. With the AfricaTech Awards, our objective is to boost visibility for African innovation ecosystems and to create opportunities for African entrepreneurs within global markets.”

www.ifc.org 

MTN Rwanda launches brand refresh in line with Ambition 2025 strategy

MTN Rwandacell Plc (MTN Rwanda), has rebranded to reflect its evolution from Rwanda’s most valuable telecommunications provider to the nation’s leading digital technology company.  It is only the second brand overhaul since the mobile operator’s entry in 1998, the previous refresh being in 2004.

The rebrand reflects MTN Group’s commitment to its Ambition 2025 strategy to build leading digital platforms that enable Africa’s progress across the telecom, fintech, infrastructure, API and content and messaging ecosystem.

Kicking off with a thought-provoking and simple question, “What are we doing today?”, the brand refresh promises to be a trigger reappraisal of MTN Rwanda as more than just a telco.  In developing and designing its brand refresh, MTN is responding to the reality that whilst it was born into the analog era, its customers today spend much of their time in the social and digital world.  The new brand identity and its expression is modern, simple, bold, and digitally dynamic.

Through its delivery of Ambition 2025 MTN Rwanda aims to accelerate growth and unlock the value of its infrastructure assets and platforms. A pioneer of progress from the beginning, the brand refresh reasserts MTN Rwanda’s role as a technology leader in Rwanda and its role in accelerating progress through the simple act of doing.

Mitwa Ng’ambi, MTN Rwanda Chief Executive Officer said, “ICT and digital transformation are at the forefront of Rwanda’s development and its only right that we aren’t left behind as a mobile operator.  We’ve been growing with the country for the past 23 years and therefore, we too must make the shift from an analog based telco to a digitally based techo. This move has been in the works for quite some time now, for example with the digitalization of our distribution channel and we are pleased to unveil this fresh look and way of doing business to our valued customers and stakeholders as we steer towards leading digital solutions for Rwanda’s progress.”

MTN Rwanda has always been inspired by the belief that everyone deserves the benefits of a modern connected life. With a clear and concise brand strategy that ‘Opportunity + Energy = Progress’, the Company understands that to truly unlock the full benefits and potential of the digital world, it requires a combination of drive, progressive thinking, and the right tools that help doers make that step from can to done.

The Chief Consumer and Digital Officer, Yaw Ankoma Agyapong commented on the new look, stating “Our new positioning and refreshed brand identity is centred on the notion that Rwanda is never still. And now more than ever, true progress for this nation we call home, can only be realised by closing the gap between ‘can’ and ‘done’.

“It is off this insight that our new campaign, “What are you doing today?” will launch across our footprint by challenging, celebrating and providing tools for doers, because as we progress, as individuals and communities, Rwanda progresses too”, he concludes.

www.mtn.co.rw

Africa’s first AI research center inaugurated in Congo

The Republic of the Congo’s Prime Minister H.E. Anatole Collinet Makosso has inaugurated the African Center for Research in Artificial Intelligence (CARIA) in the nation’s capital of Brazzaville – the first of its kind on the continent.

Funded by the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa in partnership with the Jack Ma Foundation; the International Telecommunications Union; the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization and the United Nations Industrial Development Organization; the research center will provide a hub for the development of emerging technologies in the region.

The project aims to advance Agenda 2063 through a human-centered approach meeting social issues with technological solutions, according to Congolese Minister of Posts, Telecommunications and Digital Economy H.E. Minister Léon Juste Ibombo.

“This institution aims to undertake cutting-edge research on artificial intelligence by focusing on a human-centered approach to maximize benefits and counter development challenges,” said H.E. Ibombo at the inauguration on February 24.

CARIA is situated at Denis Sassou Nguesso University and has at least six initial research ventures defined for the coming year. The center will also offer an accredited Masters of Science Degree specializing in AI, along with certified online training for students and other interested parties into robotics and AI.

www.energycapitalpower.com