Three University of Rwanda (UR) student projects have recently been recognized as promising and innovative business ideas in need of funding.
The winners Diane Mumararungu, 23, Aline Ihirwe Uwase, 22, and Hubert Benjamin Ishimwe, 24, were awarded by Startup Germany-Africa (StArfrica), a cooperation project between the University of Rwanda and the University of Koblenz-Landau, Germany.
StArfrica is a research and innovation project that trains University of Rwanda students in entrepreneurship and job readiness.
At least 17 students competed after being coached on project management, entrepreneurial skills, accounting and finance basics, effective pitching, marketing and sales. The rewards were in the form of additional coaching and incubation to develop their ideas and make them more attractive to potential funders.
Mumararungu, a final year architecture student, was the big winner for her project – “Rwanda Green Lighting” – which aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
“The project will reduce greenhouse gases that pollute the air and cause climate change,” she told Doing Business.
“My project idea is to produce street lamps with their respective energy source using greenhouse gases so that the greenhouse gases are transformed into street lamps with their respective energy. No one is currently using this type of technology in Rwanda.
The winners recommend that youth startups be funded to scale innovative projects because many youth startups fail to take off.
According to Start-up Genome’s “Global Start-up Ecosystem Report 2019”, 11 out of 12 fail, primarily due to premature scaling.
Cross border money transfer
Uwase, a final year student studying irrigation and drainage, was the first runner up. His business idea is to develop a money transfer platform.
“My idea is about money transfer without borders. I am making a mobile app that will allow Rwandans to send money to people in Germany and those in Germany can send money to people in Rwanda,” she said.
Uwase wants to expand the project to Africa and Europe once it gets started.
“I build on existing ideas to make a better one. I want to use blockchain technology to develop a money transfer app,” she said. Blockchain is a shared, immutable ledger that facilitates the process of recording transactions and tracking assets in a corporate network.
“We still need a lot since we are still in an idea phase. We still need more knowledge and funds to make the project work. Many ideas need funds to be implemented because startups don’t have money,” she said.
Ishimwe, who is studying electrical power engineering, was the second runner-up, recognized for his smart irrigation business idea on how to deal with drought.
He said, “The smart irrigation industry will use automatic technology. We will install sensors in farmers’ fields. These sensors will be able to detect moisture levels in the soil and command the system to irrigate crops automatically without the presence of people on the farm as it will have features that control the farm remotely. He must know when the crops need to be irrigated.
Ishimwe hopes its creation will significantly boost the country’s agricultural production.
“Farmers will be able to exploit all the agricultural seasons of the whole year, whether it is in the rainy season or in the dry season. The idea needs support as it is in line with the vision of transforming agriculture and tackling food insecurity. »
Rwanda aims to irrigate 102,284 hectares by 2024.
The StArfrica project is implemented on a pilot basis in Rwanda. It has a team based at the Institute for Scientific Entrepreneurship of the University of Koblenz as well as on site at the University, in Kigali.
In Rwanda, the project aims to identify and promote Rwandan business ideas and start-ups, to advise and support them.
StArfrica plans to launch a Kigali-based incubator to support and grow young Rwandans’ science-related business ideas.