Rwandan tech startups need to beef up business skills to succeed


Rwanda is known for its strides in furthering ICT-related policies and its ambitions for tapping into the knowledge economy. In a recent article in The New Times Rwanda, the lack of adequate business skills is claimed to be the biggest obstacle tech entrepreneurs face in the country today.

KLab is one of Africa’s many tech hubs encouraging and connecting people who drive innovative digital solutions. Martin Carlos Mwizerwa is the acting director of Rwanda’s kLab and is also in charge of National ICT planning and co-ordination.

Referring to young local tech entrepreneurs in the article, Mwizerwa says that “most of them are fresh information technology graduates, so they have little or no business skills to market their innovations and attract funding.” He further points out that although many of them might have great ideas and ambition they often lack the crucial marketing, pitching and general management skills required to run a sustainable business.

Furthermore, Jovani Ntabgoba who is a TVET consultant at the Private Sector Federation chamber of ICT suggests that the rate of failing startups in this sector is due to the lack of involving key stakeholders. He also says that innovation should be relevant to and readily accepted by the market.

Not only does the problem necessarily lie with the entrepreneurs themselves, but the market is also said to be too reluctant in adopting innovations:

Some organisations are afraid that people may lose their jobs as some of these applications will ease transactions. But according to recent research, a 10% increase in digitisation leads to an increase in GDP by 0.75 per capita and 1.02% employment rate in Africa.”

Lastly, one of the obstacles that entrepreneurs face is the lack of financing opportunities. It’s argued that although the Rwandan government invests greatly in ICT startups, there’s still a scarcity of funding opportunities from banks for example.

“The government offers up to US$50 000 (Rwf33.5m) to ICT firms that prove they are worth investing in. We also offer comfortable working spaces like kLab, with high Internet connectivity,” notes Mwizerwa. He also encourages that given the current climate it’s time to create products and services with universal applicability.

Jacques Coetzee: Staff Reporter


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