Mentorship deal for start-ups

Thursday January 30 2020

TECH

Technology start-ups are poised to benefit from a mentorship programme to boost their hone their skills. PHOTO | SEARCH 

JEAN-PIERRE AFADHALI
By JEAN-PIERRE AFADHALI
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Technology start-ups are poised to benefit from a mentorship programme to boost their skills.

Experts say that lack valuation of technology services has been cited as a hindrances to tech entrepreneurship in the country.

Innovators argue that the value of technology products such as software and solution apps have not been appreciated locally.

Inclusive Business Solution a new startups incubator and accelerator-based at ICT innovator centre in Kicukiro is looking for top 40 tech start-ups in various areas to participate in a six-month mentorship programme.

Selected start-ups will be accommodated by a business incubator at the ICT innovation centre, a project of Rwanda Development Board and South Korea Co-operation agency and Solutek System, get financial support to implement and develop their tech ideas.

In an interview with Rwanda Today Lionel Mpfizi, chief executive of Awesomity Lab, a software start-up behind a local ride hailing app, that has been in business for four years said people don’t value technology services in terms of money.

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“The Rwandan market has not a reached point where they realise the value of digitising their work. This is why sometimes they consider our services and other tech companies too expensive,” said Mr Mpfizi

According to the young entrepreneur, local market has not fully embraced software made in Rwanda which makes it difficult to compete with international companies for technology projects.

Benoit Mugisha, a co-founder of Reba Visuals, a year-old multimedia start-up that has been in IBS Rwanda told Rwanda Today, the value of their products has not been appreciated.

Mr Mugisha stated that the local market is still too small to sell content such as movies, multimedia products adding some TV stations have weak financial base therefore cannot by their products.

“Even those who want to buy, their prices are lower than the cost of production,” said the young entrepreneur, adding that market access is still a problem for multimedia products.

“They want free content or propose Rwf 500,000 for a movie that cost of production was Rwf3 million for a low budget movie,” he said.

According to IBS Rwanda, start-ups pitch their projects to select promising 40 that will work in the incubator.

Think, first pan African incubator that was set up in Kigali in 2014 closed about three years ago.

Meanwhile, a recently launched tech seal, a software standard certificate issued by Rwanda ICT chamber is expected to improve and boost software applications made in Rwanda.

Mr Mpfizi further said the quality of some software application is not good but the certificate he hopes will change the software business.

“Whenever you launch an app is not supposed to be perfect, it’s a learning journey and you improve as people use them,” he noted.

“In order to improve the quality of apps made in Rwanda is to give chances to companies to develop software and improve with them,” he noted

Local tech start-ups that will participate in IBS incubation could partner in future with South Korean startup following an incubation programme to boost their growth and management, but the project it’s still in the pipeline.

The first incubated start-ups are in the final stage of incubation and running their businesses.

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