Imbuto Foundation and partners have awarded four outstanding youth innovative start-up business ideas which are aimed at improving mental and sexual reproductive health services in Rwanda.
The seed funding worth $40,000 was handed over this May 13, 2022 through the Innovation Accelerator programme (iAccelerator), an annual event which is now in its fourth edition.
Each of the four winning projects received $10,000 of seed funding in the final pitching and are expected to also get mentorship and business development training.
iAccelerator is a mentorship-driven acceleration programme, supporting young entrepreneurs with seed funding, training and skills development to generate innovative solutions in response to challenges related to sexual and reproductive health and rights, sexuality education, family planning, maternal health, mental health and other population development issues.
The lucky winners were selected from the top 10 finalist’s solutions and projects which were selected from a group of top 40 innovators in this year’s edition that attracted over 400 competitive solutions submitted by various applicants.
The Winning Solutions
The top first winning iAccelerator solution was “BohokApp”, a project developed by Rafiki Gentil and Egide Tumukunde which will, through use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) connect its users to mental health experts for reliable information and services.
The second winning iAccelerator solution was ‘JoCare’, a project of Jerome Nshimiyimana, Diane Ishimwe Nzanana and Claude Hirwa Niyibizi that allows young people, including those with disabilities, to discuss Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) information through friendly, educational tools.
The third winning iAccelerator solution was ‘Tele-mental health (Let’s Reason)’ developed by Michael Tesfay and Amanda Akaliza, whose innovation will be integrated into the universal health coverage system in Rwanda- ‘Mutuelle de Sante’ ; giving access to affordable Mental Health education and services.
The fourth winning iAccelerator solution was ‘Urungano Best-Friend Podcasted Book’, a storyboard book project that will provide reliable information on sexual and reproductive health and rights.
In her remarks, the Deputy Director-General of RBC, Noella Bigirimana who was the guest of honor, thanked and commended the youth for their will to find solutions to critical issues that the society faces.
On behalf of Imbuto, Geraldine Umutesi, the project coordinator thanked the First Lady Jeanette Kagame for her support to the programme and empowering the future generation of Rwanda.
“Thank you for contributing to the vision of Our Chairperson Mrs. Jeannette Kagame, in nurturing and watering the seeds that will grow into giant plants,” Umutesi said.
Umutesi also congratulated the participants for their time, energy, and sustained participation in the programme and reminded them that the country is counting on their contributions.
“We applaud you for conceiving ideas that are evidence-based, innovative, and impact-driven, and for conveying them in a confident and eloquent manner. The country is counting on you,” she said.
On behalf of the programme partners United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) country representatives- Kwabena Asante Ntiamoah and CHON Gyong Shik respectively said they were very proud of the strong partnership and dedication of the government of Rwanda in supporting the iAccelerator mentorship programme from its first phase in 2016 until now that has improved the lives of many and empowered the youth.
Both UNFPA and KOICA further reaffirmed their commitment and support to the programme in the future.