Rwanda ICT Entrepeneurs Need Sharper Business Skills

Rwanda ICT Entrepeneurs Need Sharper Business Skills

Martin Carlos Mwizerwa, acting director of Rwanda’s kLab and head of National ICT planning and co-ordination, believes tech students and others interested in Rwanda’s ICT sector are capable of making an impact. However, a lack of business skills amongst ICT entrepreneurs, he told The New Times, is most apparent — and the reason developers are faced with hurdles.

Biz Tech Africa reported that mobile penetration in the country, as of May, sits at 57 percent. While most developers strive to create the best mobile and android apps, the “low penetration rate,” The New Times reported, stands as a challenge.

According to Mwizerwa, the shortage of mobile users isn’t the only thing standing in the way of technology’s progression in Rwanda.

“Most entrepreneurs fail to convince investors on the viability and profitability of the innovations for the investors to buy into their companies or fund them. Investors need to see more than just a brilliant idea; they need to see prospects of growth and return on their investments, which most of the ICT entrepreneurs can’t show,” Mwizerwa said.

Due to the fact that most techies are new graduates — and because they’ve had little pitching practice — the ability to market ideas and innovations is stifled.

“Many developers don’t make their products financially appealing to target customers. It is time we understood that there is more to successful entrepreneurship than just coming up with solutions,” Patrick Nsenga, ICT entrepreneur and Microsoft students’ ambassador told The New Times.

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Shutting out voices and people who can take an app from good to great is also a problem fresh graduates run into.

“When developing software or making an application, it is important to involve key stakeholders in the sector, which some developers don’t do. At the end of it, some of these companies develop great software or applications that cannot be used by anyone,” Private Sector Federation chamber of ICT technical and vocational education training consultant, Jovani Ntabgoba, said in The New Times report.

Lots of students and graduates set out to found tech companies, but don’t have the capital to stabilize such and entity. Government loans of up to $50,000 are available to firms who can prove they’ll soon turnover a profit, Mwizerwa said. Still, the majority of young entrepreneurs don’t have the business experience nor the financial background to secure other loans.

According to The New Times, Rwanda’s ICT sector has received upwards of $300 million. Though more money is needed to carry forth development, Mwizerwa says companies that are established should keep this in mind: mobile penetration isn’t a major issue, nor is being held up by small mistakes.

“Instead of looking at bigger problems, I think it would be wise to start with smaller issues that the owners of the companies have control over. Most of the companies have internal wrangles within their organizations which drag them down,” he said…..“We should be keen on developing applications and solutions that have universal applicability. It is time to think global.”