Startups in Rwanda often rely exclusively on personal networks to do business. Moreover, collaboration is limited and there is a risk of double efforts happening in the country. Raising funds is difficult, limiting startups in growing or surviving at the market. The Digital Ecosystem Mapping Tool can solve this issue serving as a directory and matchmaking platform for tech-companies and investors.
The African technology and startup ecosystem is still in its infancy and good practices are still pioneers. Some African nations are leading the way and advocating for more technology startups in the region. There are several initiatives taking place e.g. subsidized internet or low taxes on technology and ICT equipment.
However, most of Africa’s technology startups face the same challenge: access to capital for growth. Particularly, startups are lacking funds in form of research and development, labs for tech transfer or a development inclusive environment. Startups are in need of a solution that supports startups in knowledge transfer and access to financial resources.
A Digital Directory for the Tech-Ecosystem
In Rwanda, the digital ecosystem mapping (DEM) tool called Innovate Rwanda now offers a solution. This platform serves as a digital directory for all IT-companies as well as investors. Additionally, it fosters collaboration between tech startups, innovators, investors, innovation hubs and development partners. On the one hand, Innovate Rwanda is a way to promote Rwandan startups to the world. On the other hand, it also brings the world back to Rwanda through potential foreign investments. In other words, it is allowing investors to easily find companies to work with in the Rwandan ecosystem. This includes both local projects and export.
Originally, the Rwanda Development Board initiated the project through the Kigali Innovation City Program (KIC). Later, the DigiCenter offered its support along with JICA, ICT Chamber and RISA in developing the system. After the completion of the first phase of the development, the DEM tool was posted on the Leverist platform to gain international attention for scaling. Through leverist.de, a partnership with Deloitte Netherlands could be set up for the next development phase of the project. This initiative is very special to the DigiCenter since Deloitte Netherlands had generously offered to support this project pro-bono.
New partners onboard – Deloitte’s Data Analytics Experts
The DigiCenter’s clear aim is to have a positive impact on the sustainable development goals with digital solutions. Having experts onboard refining the system creates an even bigger impact. ‘We can only achieve the sustainable development goals through collaboration. The digital ecosystem mapping tool is a platform that encourages collaboration of development partners, start-ups, innovation hubs and investors – the entire community’ states Nasser Kanesa, Solutions Expert from the DigiCenter. ‘We would have had to spend a gigantic amount of time and money on trying to refine the system on our own. Now we are getting the essential support and expertise from Deloitte.‘
Outlook and further insights
In total, the partnership lasts for seven months. However, a future collaboration on other projects does not seem impossible, if you ask Joep from Deloitte: ‘That was actually even a better match than what I had hoped for in the beginning! All the projects by GIZ, especially in Rwanda, are spot on in that area. Eventually, we might collaborate on future projects.‘