48 Hours in Kigali

With over 300km of hilly Rwandan countryside conquered, we had a 48-hour pit stop back in Kigali, the countries charismatic and energetic capital city.

The break was primarily a chance to rest and recuperate, in preparation for the final 70km push down to the Burundi border, however we also had a national TV interview to prep for and a whole bunch of awesome entrepreneurs to visit!

After 2 weeks living off rice, beans and potatoes, we indulged ourselves at a local Indian restaurant for dinner before our first commitment the following morning, a meeting with the national Rwandan Broadcast Agency.

We had agreed to an exclusive Run Rwanda interview, to be broadcast on that evening’s national news. As the film crew unpacked their gear and began to set up at our local hostel, I’ll admit to being a little nervous that the ears and eyes of the whole country would be fixed on Run Rwanda later that day. A huge opportunity to celebrate the great work the AEC (Inkomoko) does in the country, but definitely not a time to stumble one’s words!

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John speaking to the RBA

Luckily the interview went really well, and it was a privilege to be asked for my views on the country’s development from an outside perspective. For the first time, it felt like Run Rwanda had become a true success and we’d achieved what we’d hoped to, when we set out planning the initial stages of the project all those months ago.

Please click here to watch the local news feature 

Inspired and excited, we wrapped up the interview and set out on the trail of some of Rwanda’s urban entrepreneurs!

First up was Olivier, a local photographer, filmmaker and music producer who had just opened up his first recording studio in the city. Impressively, his company, 64 Waves had already helped 2 local Rwandan artists create an album to be released later that year.

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Olivier showing the Run Rwanda team around his studio

Olivier talked with pride and passion as he took us through his ambitions for the company, ‘we’d love to become the number one production company in Kigali, while identifying some of the best talent in the city’.

Olivier had worked with Inkomoko over the last year, improving his finance and management skills and with their continued support, I’m in little doubt he’ll achieve his goals!

Waving goodbye to Olivier and his ace studio, we jumped on the back of a couple of motos and set off for a meeting with a young digital entrepreneur and African Innovation Prize Winner.

Despite having only graduated 4 weeks ago, Origene is already running his own Tech firm in Kigali, Neza Digital Service.

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Origene and his start-up team

 

Having obtained funding by winning the prestigious African Innovation Prize, he is well on his way to developing a pioneering App, that will allow everyday Rwandans to directly feedback their views, thoughts and opinions to the local government.

Origene was immensely proud to be innovating to improve the country’s public services: ‘It’s hard for the Government to really understand the views of the local people, our App will create a powerful tool for listening, allowing those in power direct access to wide-spread views on local issues, policies and events’.

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Origene showing us the App Prototype as well as his African Innovation Prize

Origene came up with the idea after asking a public official how often the local suggestion boxes were checked. He wasn’t particularly impressed with the answer!

Our final entrepreneur of the day was a lady called Miriam, co-founder of Academic Bridge.

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Miriam, the founder of Academic Bridge

Academic Bridge is a pioneering online tool that’s revolutionized school administration and management across Rwanda. Where previously, report cards, marking and attendance records had been completed by hand, Miriam has developed software that quickly and intuitively digitalizes key administrative tasks.

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The Academic Bridge team highlighting the time saving solution they’ve created

Impressively she worked with a selection of handpicked school’s over the course of a year, listening to and understanding their needs and co-creating the final solution and software functionality.

We visited a local primary school in Kigali and interviewed the headmaster to understand the impact Academic Bridge has had on the day-to-day running of their school: ‘The software is amazing, and the key benefit for us is huge time savings for our teachers. What used to take a week now takes an hour and child attendance has also improved dramatically!’ 

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Understanding how Academic Bridge works in practice, by visiting a local school

Miriam has further plans to expand into Tanzania, Burundi and Cameroon and by working with Inkomoko to develop a robust development plan, the business is growing quickly and sustainably and the company already employs 10 people.

During our time in Kigali, we’d met a series of entrepreneurs with ideas and success stories that would turn heads in any capital city, anywhere in the world. Testament to the entrepreneurial spirit that flows through this tiny country!

Now it was time to head back out onto the road and begin the final stretch of running down to the Burundi border!

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