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Featured image (left to right): Michael Mronz, chairman of the Westerwelle Foundation, Malu Dreyer, Minister-President of Rhineland-Palatinate, Vincent Munyeshyaka, Minister of Trade and Industry of the Republic of Rwanda and Thomas Wessel, chief human resources officer and labor relations manager of Evonik Industries at the official opening ceremony of the Westwerwelle Startup Haus Kigali

German foundation Westerwelle launches startup hub in Kigali

Berlin based non-profit the Westerwelle Foundation has, in partnership with the Evonik Foundation, officially opened the Westerwelle Startup Haus Kigali.

The Westerwelle Startup Haus Kigali was officially opened at a grand opening ceremony that was held on Monday (1 October) in the Rwandan capital.

In a statement today (3 October), the Westerwelle Foundation said the launch event, which was part of the two-day long Westerwelle Young Founders Conference, was attended by more than 100 guests who included representatives of the private sector and civil society, as well as politicians.

Since Westerwelle Startup Haus Kigali’s soft launch in August, more than 21 startups with over 90 members have used the 1200 square metre facility

Westerwelle Startup Haus Kigali sits on a 1200 square metre plot and features a co-working space with 150 desks and a makerspace with a focus on product design and innovation, as well as workshops and trainings. Since its soft launch in August, more than 21 startups with over 90 members have used the facility.

Westerwelle Foundation programme manager Guido von Westerholt told Ventureburn today (3 October) that members of the Startup House will also receive training on machines like laser cutters, 3D printers, textile machines and electronic tools to work on hardware products and prototypes.

“In addition, we plan to add relevant business and maker workshops tailored to the needs of our members and the startup community. Business related workshops will for example include financial management, product-market-fit, design thinking, prototyping and lean startup methodology,” he explained.

‘Exploring idea of opening other hubs’

Responding to a Ventureburn question on whether the foundation has plans to build more hubs in Africa, Von Westerholt said the foundation is “currently exploring options”.

The organisation at present runs Start Haus in Tunis, Tunisia which it opened in 2016 with German non-profit organisation Enpact e.V.

In its earlier statement, The Westerwelle Foundation stated that the Westerwelle Startup Haus programme aims to support local entrepreneurs to improve their businesses, and by doing so contribute to the creation of economic opportunities in Africa.

Commenting in the same statement, Rwanda’s Minister for Trade and Industry Vincent Munyeshyaka (pictured above, third from left) said the launch of the Startup Haus is in line with the Rwandan government’s policies of promoting small business job creation.

“This is a good opportunity and I am very happy that we have launched this Startup Haus in Kigali,” said Munyeshyaka.

Evonik Industries chief human resources officer and labour relations manager Thomas Wessel said when plans for the startup house were announced last year in February, the intention was to create “something special”.

“We had the idea to build a startup house with two different areas. We wanted to create a place where young founders are able to access all the shared services and technical equipment they need for the start-up of a new business.

“We also wanted to establish a place for young people aiming at developing their manual, technical and practical skills,” added Wessel (pictured above, far right).

Westerwelle Foundation chairman Michael Mronz said the Startup House should function as a place where entrepreneurs can turn their business ideas into reality.

“We are convinced that the Startup Haus will become a central place for startups from Kigali and East Africa as well,” said Mronz (pictured above, far left).

To celebrate the launch of the space, Westerwelle Startup Haus Kigali will offer selected startups that want to join the hub, a free trial period until the end of the month.

Featured image (left to right): Michael Mronz, chairman of the Westerwelle Foundation, Malu Dreyer, Minister-President of Rhineland-Palatinate, 
Vincent Munyeshyaka, Minister of Trade and Industry of the Republic of Rwanda and Thomas Wessel, chief human resources officer and labour relations manager of Evonik Industries at the official opening ceremony of the Westerwelle Startup Haus Kigali on Monday (1 October)

Author Bio

Daniel Mpala
Daniel's focus is on the African tech startup ecosytem. Besides that, he is passionate about online security, privacy and international affairs. He studied International Relations and Media Studies at the University of the Witwatersrand. More