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

[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

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

WFP and Impact Hub Kigali launch programme to support food system innovations in Rwanda

The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) and Impact Hub Kigali (IHK), with the support of USAID Bureau of Humanitarian Affairs (BHA) and the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, are launching the IGNITE Food Systems Challenge in Rwanda to foster locally-driven solutions to tackle food systems challenges. The initiative will offer technical support and a total of 300,000 USD in financial support. 

The IGNITE Food Systems Challenge is a first-of-its-kind initiative to support Rwandan start-ups, small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and cooperatives to scale up their solutions, contributing to the economy while addressing different gaps in the food system. The call for applications opens on 05 January 2022 and will close on 04 February 2022. 

The programme seeks innovative solutions that contribute to food security in areas such as resilience to shocks and stress, access to safe and nutritious food, improved food supply chains, the empowerment of smallholder farmers, and the advancement of food security for all. Selected ventures will have the opportunity to receive grant funding of up to US$50,000 as well as 6 months acceleration support, including connections to experts, mentors and partners, and other tailored support to address business gaps. 

The IGNITE Food Systems Challenge will be simultaneously running in Rwanda, South Sudan and Uganda, and is being made possible with the support of US$2 million from USAID. The initiative comes at a time of worsening food insecurity in the region due to the compounding effects of rising conflict, climate change, natural disasters like droughts, floods, locusts, and the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The biggest challenge for many entrepreneurs in Eastern Africa is not only access to funding, but also technical support that furthers their concepts. Through this generous support by USAID, we are confident that we will be able to reach many bright and talented entrepreneurs in the region who might have been left behind,” says Mr Jeremie Pigé, the head of the WFP IGNITE Innovation Hub for Eastern Africa.

Piloting, implementing and scaling innovative ideas lies at the heart of WFP and Impact Hub Kigali’s work. This programme will have an impact on promoting innovation in the food systems and advancing efforts towards achieving zero hunger in the world.

“With the IGNITE Food Systems Challenge, we will provide tailored support for local entrepreneurs to scale their impact in the Rwandan food system. Ventures will undergo diagnostics at the start of the programme and will be able to co-design their own acceleration journey, indicating the support they require, from coaching to peer and expert support such as legal or accounting services, among others.” adds Mafer Betancourt, Managing Director of Impact Hub Kigali.

The United Nations World Food Programme is the 2020 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate.  WFP is the world’s largest humanitarian organization, saving lives in emergencies and using food assistance to build a pathway to peace, stability and prosperity for people recovering from conflict, disasters, and the impact of climate change.

www.wfp.org

UNICEF and Liquid Intelligent Technologies launch a partnership to help Giga bridge the digital divide in Africa

UNICEF and Liquid Intelligent Technologies, a business of Cassava Technologies, a pan-African technology group, announced a partnership in support of Giga’s work to connect every school to the Internet and every young person to information, opportunity, and choice.

Liquid will share anonymized data to support Giga’s work to map the location and connectivity status of schools in Africa. Liquid will also share information with Giga about schools’ proximity to telecoms infrastructure and will help develop a connectivity monitoring platform. The resulting information will provide a basis for better-targeted investment to connect schools, including in hard-to-reach areas.

The partnership will initially focus on Kenya but will aim to incorporate other Liquid markets over time, including South Africa, Zambia, Botswana, Tanzania, Uganda, Zimbabwe and Rwanda.

“This partnership with Liquid will allow our Giga team to gain a deeper understanding of the connectivity landscape in Kenya and across Africa,” said Thomas Davin, Director, Office of Innovation at UNICEF. “That knowledge will help UNICEF to get more schools online, giving children access to the opportunities they need to flourish.”

Ben Roberts, Group Chief Technology and Innovation Officer at Liquid Intelligent Technologies, said, “The Giga Initiative from UNICEF and ITU echoes Liquid’s sentiment of creating a digitally resilient economy in Kenya and Africa at large. There is no better place to start than our schools that shape the minds of our children, thereby securing our future. Through our expertise in the digital and telecom landscape, we will support UNICEF in its endeavour to map school connectivity data across Kenya by providing real-time figures to measure impact. This initiative also reiterates the vision of our parent company – Cassava Technologies, of creating a digitally connected continent that leaves no African behind.”

Around half of the world’s population still has no meaningful access to the Internet. UNICEF and Liquid are committed to addressing this digital divide, which has widened during the COVID-19 pandemic. Giga has already mapped over 1 million schools and their connectivity around the world and has connected over 3,000 schools.

Liquid has connected 4,000 schools to internet across Africa. The company aspires to continue empowering schools with digital technology and has mapped 150,000 schools through the continent. 

Giga is part of UNICEF’s broader Reimagine Education initiative, the UN Secretary General’s Common Agenda and Roadmap for Digital Cooperation, and ITU’s Partner2 Connect Coalition. It has the potential to transform efforts to narrow the digital divide, providing a connectivity layer on which digital empowerment initiatives can build.

www.liquid.tech

Washington University joins major NIH effort to advance health data science in Africa

Washington University in St. Louis is joining a major international effort to advance data science, catalyze innovation and spur health discoveries across Africa. The program is supported by the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) Common Fund, which will invest nearly $75 million over five years to fund the Harnessing Data Science for Health Discovery and Innovation in Africa (DS-I Africa) program. 

Researchers at the School of Medicine are receiving one of 19 grant awards that will support data science research and training activities in Africa. The researchers will focus their efforts on developing new training programs in health data science in Rwanda. Faculty from the Brown School and the McKelvey School of Engineering also are involved in the initiative.

Led by co-principal investigators Victor Davila-Roman, MD, director of the Global Health Center at Washington University’s Institute for Public Health; and Philip R.O. Payne, PhD, director of Washington University’s Institute for Informatics, the investigators will collaborate with colleagues at the University of Rwanda and the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences, both in Kigali, Rwanda.

The project aims to develop a program that nurtures the development of trainees in research careers with a focus on urgent health-care issues in Rwanda, including the burden of infectious diseases, such as HIV, malaria and COVID-19, as well as chronic health conditions, including high blood pressure, diabetes and heart disease. Applying the techniques of big data science to these issues will enable researchers to identify patterns in diseases and their prevalence in large populations and, based on these, help scientists develop new hypotheses to test with the goal of improving public health.

“Data science holds great potential for understanding the burden of disease across Africa,” said Davila-Roman, also a professor of medicine, of anesthesiology and of radiology. “But to make strides in tackling these diseases, we need highly trained data scientists in Africa, to gather and analyze large sets of health data across populations. Such analyses can then be used to guide interventions. We look forward to working with our colleagues in Rwanda and other sites within the DS-I Africa initiative to develop and implement exceptional training programs for students in Rwanda so they can learn these skills and gain valuable experience.”

The Global Health Center is joining with Washington University’s Institute for Informatics to develop the training programs and curricula that will go into the project.

“The major public health problems that we’re trying to tackle are global in nature — the COVID-19 pandemic alone demonstrates that these issues don’t care about geographic boundaries,” said Payne, also the Janet and Bernard Becker Professor, associate dean for health information and data science, and chief data scientist for the School of Medicine. “In order to tackle these huge problems, we have to be able to collect and analyze immense amounts of data. The NIH is making a substantial investment in creating a network of academic institutions and other groups in Africa and the U.S. that will launch important research and training programs so we can better organize and understand the health data that’s being generated. In addition, the program will help develop a workforce in Rwanda and across many other African countries that can carry this work forward.”

The training programs in Rwanda will build skills in health data science, and trainees in Rwanda will be able to choose among master’s and doctoral degree programs as well as postdoctoral training and faculty development. In-person and remote training options will include opportunities to build skills in applied mathematics, biostatistics, epidemiology, clinical informatics, analytics, computational biology, biomedical imaging, machine intelligence, computer science and engineering.

Mentoring and internship opportunities will help trainees harness their skills to tackle real world problems. They could, for example, apply data science concepts to medical and public health areas such as social determinants of health, climate change, food systems, infectious diseases, noncommunicable diseases, health surveillance, injuries, pediatrics and parasitology.

The NIH program in Africa has four components: a coordinating center at the University of Cape Town in South Africa; seven training centers, including the one led by Washington University; seven research hubs; and four centers focused on understanding the ethical, legal and social implications of data science research.

“This initiative has generated tremendous enthusiasm in all sectors of Africa’s biomedical research community,” said NIH Director Francis S. Collins, MD, PhD, in the NIH announcement. “Big data and artificial intelligence have the potential to transform the conduct of research across the continent, while investing in research training will help to support Africa’s future data science leaders and ensure sustainable progress in this promising field.”

In addition to the Common Fund (CF), the awards are being supported by the Fogarty International Center (FIC), the National Cancer Institute (NCI), the National Human Genome Research Institute, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB), the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), the National Library of Medicine (NLM) and the NIH Office of Data Science Strategy. The initiative is being led by the CF, FIC, NIBIB, NIMH and NLM.

www.medicine.wustl.edu

Government of Rwanda and Google collaborate to accelerate digital transformation

The Government of Rwanda, led by the Ministry of ICT and Innovation, has partnered with Google to accelerate the country’s digital transformation. This initiative is in line with Rwanda’s ambition to drive inclusive economic development leveraging technology.

Rwanda’s vibrant economy is an ideal launch pad for future innovation in Africa, with focus in four key areas: affordable and universal access to connectivity; adoption of digital platforms; Digital Skilling for All; and fostering a pan-African innovation ecosystem. The Rwanda-Google collaboration is one of several initiatives to advance the above key areas. It will also include support for a progressive policy framework and contribute to an open digital payment ecosystem through the Mojaloop platform.

Initially, the partnership aims to:

  • Support a Training of Trainers (ToT) pilot for Rwanda’s Digital Ambassadors, a national program to increase digital literacy among Rwanda citizens by recruiting digitally-savvy youth to deliver digital literacy training
  • Upskill 500 developers through Google’s developer training and community support programs
  • Pilot a fintech incubation program for early stage fintech companies, starting with 15 companies in collaboration with Kigali Innovation City, and delivered by a Google for Startups partner
  • Accelerate e-commerce growth by supporting 3,000 Small and Medium Businesses to go online as well as equipping 1,000 iWorkers
  • Bring Rwanda to the world through Google Street View by enhancing digital maps of key urban centres
  • Digitise Rwanda’s cultural assets and provide access to heritage through digital storytelling in collaboration with the National Museums of Rwanda

“This collaboration with the Government of Rwanda is an important milestone for us coming soon after our CEO’s commitment to the continent to support Africa’s digital transformation. We will help build a Digital Rwanda by up-skilling the youth, digitally accelerating small businesses, supporting start-ups and developers, improved maps and navigation, digitising Rwanda’s cultural heritage as well as supporting a progressive policy framework. We look forward to deepening our collaboration with the Government of Rwanda,” Agnes Gathaiya, Country Director, Eastern Africa.

“We are pleased to launch this partnership with Google to complement existing efforts to drive digital inclusion, skilling and support the growth of the innovation ecosystem in Rwanda. Growing the digital economy is critical and will continue to drive Rwanda’s economic transformation in line with the country’s vision to become a knowledge-driven economy,” Paula Ingabire, Rwanda’s Minister of ICT and Innovation.

Google will continue to work with the Ministry of ICT and Innovation to increase its efforts to support Rwanda’s digital transformation.

www.minict.gov.rw

[Rwanda] Samsung Partners With Government To Equip Coding Academy

Samsung Electronics has announced a new partnership with the Government of Rwanda through the Ministry of ICT and the Ministry of Education to equip the Rwanda Coding Academy.

Samsung will be supporting the Rwanda Coding Academy by equipping a 30 seater innovation lab with its innovative technology in the form of 24 inch Samsung computer monitors, Keyboards and mouse’s, routers, an interactive e-board, state of the art air-conditioning for the lab as well as the server room and the cabling for the entire set-up. This will go towards equipping students from the academy with the latest knowledge in terms of coding and software development.

Speaking during the launch of this new partnership held at the Coding Academy located in Nyabihu District, Samsung’s Head of Corporate Affairs Mr. Shivanda said is looking forward to many years of partnership with the Rwanda Coding Academy.

“At Samsung we are really excited about this project because the potential is immeasurable, the impact on the community and the leaders of tomorrow is astonishing. It is a project that we are proud to be associated with and is the beginning of many many years of partnership”.

“Together for Tomorrow” is Samsung Electronics global CSR vision focused on enabling people through leveraging strategic, local partnerships and sharing its resources directly benefiting communities.

In East Africa Samsung has partnered with different organizations in Kenya and Ethiopia to execute similar projects with a focus on technology. The company will also be executing the same in other East African markets that they operate in.

This donation supports Rwanda’s Education Sector Strategic Plan 2018 – 2024. The plan seeks to ensure that TVET programs are responsive to both labor market needs and the social and economic development of Rwanda. More focus has been directed towards increased use of ICT in all TVET programs, which has contributed to the preparation of young people for the labour market by enhancing their employability and thereby providing a skilled workforce for the economy.

“We cannot build this country alone, we can only do it through strategic partnerships with socially responsible corporates like Samsung. The Rwanda Coding Academy was developed with the intention of equipping our students with skills that will propel them towards success in the future and with the support that we have received from Samsung today, we are definitely a step ahead” Ms. Claudette Irere, Rwanda’s Minister of State, ICT said.

The launch was also attended by the Vice-Chancellor, Rwanda Polytechnic, Dr. James Gashumba, as well as other leaders from the region.

www.samsung.com