Partner up! Strengthening Rwanda’s entrepreneurial ecosystem

Make-IT in Africa is helping to create the platforms on which players across the board – whether new tech companies, enablers or policy makers – merge to share ideas and collectively build an entrepreneurship ecosystem. For instance, they have partnered up with Rwanda ICT Chamber and Kigali Innovation City to foster capacity building and collaboration for local hubs. These entities are also closely associated with the Ministry of ICT and Innovation. Two concrete fruits of these top-level collaborations are the Rwanda Startup Act and the Ecosystem Mentorship Feasibility Study, which also involved other partners in the ecosystem.

Let’s get started! Rwanda Start-up Act to enable innovation to thrive

Rwanda is well on the road to becoming a technology and innovation pan-African hub. However, to sustain a thriving community, the country must support a regulatory landscape that supports start-ups and SMEs. Without start-up-friendly policies and legislation, new businesses run into challenges ranging from poor logistics to high taxes and duties – and quickly lose momentum.

The Rwanda Startup Act is a step in the right direction and follows closely on the heels of similar legislations in Tunisia and Senegal. It aims to provide policy recommendations that help build a vibrant ecosystem that enable start-ups and SMEs to grow and innovate. Such an ecosystem will help retain talent and attract investment in locally grown companies.

The Rwanda Startup Act kicked off in 2020 with the formation of a taskforce of stakeholders initially made up of the Ministry of ICT and Innovation, Rwanda Development Board (RDB), Rwanda Information Society Authority (RISA), Kigali Innovation City (KIC), Smart Africa, Rwanda ICT Chamber, and I4Policy. Ultimately the Startup Act will provide an implementation plan for the recommendation of legal, policy, regulatory and tax amendments in Rwanda that will drive support for innovation and tech companies.

Ecosystem Mentorship Feasibility Study – Understanding how a guiding hand works

Young entrepreneurs have energy, ideas, and motivation – however, growing a business does not just take business skills. In the different stages of growing a venture, an entrepreneur faces different challenges. Finding solutions and making decisions often requires tacit, untransferable knowledge that is acquired from previous experiences. In particular young entrepreneurs often lack such experience. To bridge this gap, entrepreneurs can be matched in a mentorship relationship with seasoned, successful entrepreneurs, who are a few steps ahead of them in their entrepreneurial career, have gone through the challenges of establishing a business, and will likely have had similar experiences.

In an effort to grow the mentoring offers in Rwanda, Make-IT in Africa has interviewed 17 tech-focused organisations that offer mentoring programmes and mentees who have benefited from these programs. The goal was to identify where gaps can be closed to build a strong mentoring culture which in turn will support young companies to grow. Resulting insights will be shared in a workshop on 20 August 2020.

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