The New Times Kigali Julius Bizimungu
Displayed with permission from allAfrica.com

There is need to support regional entrepreneurship to realise the potential of African entrepreneurs, experts have said.

This was at the closure of second edition of the Seedstars Africa Summit in Kigali last week.

The event was part of Seedstars World, a global competition that targets empowering African entrepreneurs.

The regional summit drew participants from corporate, government, startup, and the investment world to share knowledge, connect regional and global stakeholders and to inspire attendees to believe in the potential of innovation on the African continent.

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The CNBC presenter in Kigali, George Ndirangu moderates the discussion. / Faustin Niyigena

Participants called for more support to accelerate African innovation and entrepreneurship.

« Governments have not been able to invest heavily and efficiently in education to provide the right skills, deliver necessary infrastructure as well the right networks, » said Alisee de Tonnac, the co-founder of Seedstars World.

« There are a lot of potential entrepreneurs and innovators that can even compete with other countries globally, but they need to be empowered. This is the prerequisite for the growth of the innovation and entrepreneurship. »

Facilitating private sector

Research indicate that for every $1 spent on education, $10-15 is generated in economic growth, and experts predict that over the next decade, more than one billion young people will enter the global labour market.

Tonnac called on governments to facilitate the private sector to competitively position entrepreneurs at any level.

« I believe education is fundamental to achieving this, but I also believe that governments have a role to facilitate the private sector and to prepare the pool at the national level that can educate citizens and sector players where they can potentially be extremely competitive at the global level, » she said.

Serge Kamugisha, the chief operations officer of Rwanda Development Board, said innovation driven by information and communication technology is imperative for Africa.

« Today, an ICT startup can start by zero and reach billions of revenues in less than a decade. Why can’t the same apply for African countries? In fact, Africa cannot hope to try and emulate past growth trajectories while planning for the future. Africa must find its own growth story and, in Rwanda, we believe that this growth story will be written through algorithms, » he said.

« While all other sectors such as agriculture, mining, manufacturing and tourism are necessary pillars, the acceleration of growth will come through ICT as a tool and market in its own right. »

The event was organised under the theme, « The future built in Africa, » and it brought together African entrepreneurs from over 16 countries showcasing the global potential of technology across the continent.

Rwanda at Geneva

It featured conferences, networking sessions, inspirational talks and workshops about how to impact people’s lives in emerging markets through entrepreneurship and technology.

As part of the series of activities, there was a local competition for 10 Rwandan entrepreneurs, where only one was selected to represent the country at the Seedstars World competition in Geneva, Switzerland, next year.

Joanna Bichsel of Kasha (kasha.rw), a retail mobile platform that sells and delivers women’s health products like sanitary pads and contraceptives, will represent Rwanda at this global entrepreneurship competition.

« We are extremely excited to represent Rwanda at the global level. Kasha is trying to solve women’s health issues. Today, accessing these products for all the women in the world is very difficult, and sometimes there’s a social stigma around when women walk into stores. We want to create a better experience, » she said.