Kigali to Host Global ICT Innovators Contest

Kigali is set to host regional and international Startup World competitions where Rwandan ICT entrepreneurs, innovators and early stage business leaders will participate in the contest by presenting their best business “pitches.”

The event slated for September 12, will put Kigali on spotlight despite Rwanda being globally recognised as one of the African countries using the power of ICT in the development process.

The competition is organised by 36 global Tech City Hubs in partnership with Digital Opportunity Trust (DOT), under patronage of the Ministry of Youth and ICT.

Startup World is an international initiative, based in California US, to promote early stage businesses, entrepreneurship and technology through a global competition to celebrate the world’s most innovative businesses.

Rwanda is one of the four countries in Africa that were selected to host the competition, due to the country’s commitment to develop ICT as crucial sector in development agenda. Other countries that will host similar event are South Africa, Tanzania and Kenya.

Speaking to The New Times, Grace Mugabekazi, the Communications and Alumni Manager DOT Rwanda said: “ICT has opened up a new array of limitless opportunities for Rwanda as it has opened up our market to new forms of employment and trading and will continue to offer employment to the upcoming generation.”

“I believe there are some great innovations developed by local tech entrepreneurs which are solutions relevant to the Rwandan Market. Our young people are also looking beyond to create solutions that can work for East Africa as a regional integration.”

Tech entrepreneurs, innovators and early stage business leaders can submit their applications to before August 31.

Applications will be screened and 10 finalists will compete by delivering their business “pitches” on September 12, at Lemigo Hotel, Kigali, before a panel of Rwandan experts. The national winner will be

sponsored to travel to Silicon Valley in the USA for a showdown of finalists in January 2013.

The “pitch” competition event is open to the public but technology students and professionals are invited to attend.

The requirements needed in order to enter into a competition include, the business startup must have been launched within the last 2 years, an outstanding product or service, participants must be prepared to present their business publicly and have it demonstrated and recorded for public broadcast.

Others are, if the startup business has received external funding, it can only be up to $500,000, pitch and application documents must be in English or the contesters must be in position to provide a translator and the startup business should lie in the areas of clean tech or consumer tech but must be for profit making.

In addition to 10 runner ups, the event will be a great networking event bringing together financial institutions and venture firms.

Clarisse Iribagiza, the Chief Executive Officer of Hehe Ltd, a local mobile applications development company, said she is interested in the competition.

“We haven’t yet decided, because the event is conflicting with our work. I am consulting my team to see how possible we shall participate in the competition,” she said.

Iribagiza who is the brain behind the creation of Hehe Ltd in April won $50,000 prize money from Inspire Africa entrepreneurial contest.

Rwanda young innovators have established ICT startups like, The iHills, an umbrella of all Young Rwandan Entrepreneurs in ICT, KLab a centre for young innovators with solutions located at Telecom House and Nobleclick Ltd a web and mobile based solutions among others.

“Events like Startup World are so important to celebrate new ideas and show the world the innovation leadership of young Africans and the transformation of Rwanda as a knowledge based economy,” said Violette Uwamutara, Country Director of DOT Rwanda.

Alex Ntare, the Director of the ICT Chamber in the Private Sector Federation (PSF) said: “This is an awesome opportunity for Rwanda to showcase its commitment to building ICT in Africa through homegrown innovative solutions.”

Akaliza Keza Gara, Managing Director of Shaking Sun, a multimedia company said she has already applied to take part in the competition.

“To be honest, I don’t know that much about this particular competition yet – but I would always encourage others to put themselves out there. It is an opportunity to get exposure – even if you don’t win, you could learn from your competitors so that next time, you come up with something even better,” she noted.

The ICT Chambers at the PSF and the Rwanda Development Board are organising partners of the Startup World Kigali event.

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