Rwanda: Developing and implementing a smart cities innovation programme

ICT Solutions; Economic and private sector development

project description

Digital entrepreneurship is a key driver of economic growth in Africa. Entrepreneurs have the potential to modernise the economies and societies of their countries, to find innovative solutions to development and climate change related problems, tackle ecological or social sustainability aspects, and to create new perspectives and employment opportunities. In order to be successful, entrepreneurs need a conducive environment to foster growth. This project consists of setting up and running an 11-month accelerator programme for promising African smart-city startups, the Smart Cities Accelerator Programme (SCIP), under the GIZ Special Initiative on Training and Job Creation and the Tech Entrepreneurship Initiative Make-IT in Africa. Its core objective is to strengthen local and scalable innovation in smart cities and communities and to network these innovations with international business partners. Its wider goal is to ultimately generate jobs in Africa.

Upon the completion of needs assessments of startups, the SCIP accelerates 30 start-ups in three tracks: smart mobility, smart housing and fintech (10 start-ups per track). The accelerator is Pan African with strong roots in Rwanda, the continent’s leader in the promotion of smart cities. Innovative solutions developed by Tech entrepreneurs are planned to be applied in Kigali. Moreover, the entrepreneurs from the SCIP may use Green City Kigali as a sandbox to pilot their solutions.

Over the duration of the project a coordination with Green City Kigali was established to plug in their support regarding the development of start-up solutions. This included site visits, briefings on the project site of Green City Kigali, feedback with potential customers and taking into consideration the final products.

Luvent Consulting, with its team of experts, implemented all phases of the accelerator: the start-up selection, the acceleration (starting with a 10 day offline bootcamp and finishing with demo-days) and the follow-up phase. All start-ups were registered in Africa with at least one Africain citizen co-founder and a gender balance founder and/or management team. In addition to that, it plugged-in external stakeholders (selected German and international corporates such as Siemens, venture capital such as African Victoria Ventures, SMEs, and NGOs) who have an interest in sharing their technology and technical expertise during the Accelerator phase and invited potential cooperation partners and investors to establish cooperation agreements with the selected start-ups during the follow-up phase. Finally, Luvent Consulting communicated on the programme throughout its duration including via social media outreach campaigns with a reach of about 100k views across platforms. The programs hybrid model of delivery with participation of over 50 coaches, trainers, partners and experts, was tailor made to suit the program. The aim of the demo days was to deepen the cooperation potential developed during the projects and to transform them into concrete cooperation agreements during the follow-up phase.

The team leader and heads of tracks had the responsibility of mentoring their respective start-ups and matching them to relevant stakeholders (experts and partners, investors). Short-term experts also assisted in the coaching of start-ups on specific topics of expertise (e.g. business development, human-centred design, investment readiness, marketing, etc.).

services provided

  • Selecting the start-ups (open call, shortlist, selection). Around 300 applications (100 per track) were received of which 30 were shortlisted (per track). 20 (per track) were interviewed (Skype, MS Teams…) according to standardised evaluation fiche  
  • All selected start-ups were brought together in a bootcamp (on-site event in Rwanda) for 10 days. The individual potentials of cooperation between start-ups, international companies and/or other organisations were identified 
  • Remote support coaching and supporting were delivered for each selected start-up.   
  • Managing the project implementation of the accelerator (programme methodology, agenda and planning)
  • Organisation of the demo days in Kigali (5 days) with potential cooperation partners and investors
  • Matchmaking process organised during the follow-up phase (coaching, matchmaking with export network, facilitation of partnering) 
  • Managing communication (webinars, ads, blog posts, social media posts)
  • Managing logistics (online and physical meetings and events)
  • Managing the partner outreach 
  • Monitoring, evaluation and reporting