Hanga Pitch Fest 2023: President Kagame Encourages Youth to Seize Opportunities and Drive Positive Change

Estimated read time 5 min read

Kigali, December 8, 2023 – The third edition of Hanga Pitch Fest, Rwanda’s premier technology event aimed at fostering innovation and entrepreneurship, unfolded with great enthusiasm at the Kigali Convention Center. Organized by The Ministry of ICT and Innovation, Rwanda Development Board, and the United Nations Development Programme, the event showcased groundbreaking initiatives, celebrated the spirit of innovation, and provided a platform for startups to connect with investors. President Kagame urged the youth to seize opportunities and drive positive change.

Minister of ICT, Paula Ingabire, expressed her gratitude to President Kagame for his unwavering support of Hanga Pitch Fest since its inception. She credited the President for believing in the event two years ago, noting that his investment had resulted in supporting numerous startups and fostering a culture of innovation in Rwanda.

“I wish to extend our heartfelt appreciation to Your Excellency, Paul Kagame, who believed in Hanga Pitch Fest two years ago, invested in it, and today, we have supported so many startups,” Minister Ingabire expressed.

Minister Ingabire also assured investors that Rwanda is the best place to grow their startups, emphasizing the transformative power of Hanga Pitch Fest in shaping the country’s technological landscape. She stated, “Rwanda is the place to do business, to grow your startups, and to test your ideas.”

On a panel moderated by Yousuf Ntwali, an Hanga Pitch fest alumnus, the theme of “Inspiring and Igniting Innovation” was discussed. President Kagame expressed his appreciation for all partners involved in the preparation of Hanga Pitch fest 2023.

“Let me first give my thanks to everyone who has participated in making this happen,” he said.

Regarding the various initiatives established for the youth, President Kagame emphasized the government’s responsibility to aid the youth in discovering their talents. “It’s a responsibility, first of all, we have as a government, as leaders because there is so much locked in with the young people, with the young talents, sometimes they have no opportunity to discover their own talents until somehow people worked together to be able to achieve this.”

The President added that in Rwanda, they have identified it as a measure to develop the country, its people, and extend the impact beyond national borders to the African continent.

Encouraging the younger generation to utilize their time effectively and pursue their passions, President Kagame shared his own example of a lasting fascination with airplanes. He expressed that, given the opportunity, he would have pursued a career as a pilot—a dream that, unfortunately, did not materialize. Nonetheless, he urged them to overcome challenges, use their time wisely, and pursue aspirations that can lead to meaningful change.

“Growing up, I was fascinated by planes. Even way before I had the opportunity to step on a plane, I used to see them and be fascinated by that. In fact, from that, I thought if I had had the opportunity, I would become a pilot or an engineer. That didn’t happen. I ended up in completely different places but I am trying to do my best in that as well. I think, in a way, the train left the station, but I know there are many young entrepreneurs and a lot of talent in this room. I am just encouraging you. This is the time for you to do what some of us were not able to do and change things. This is your time,” President Kagame told the youths.

The competition culminated in the announcement of the Hanga Pitch Fest 2023 winners, where each of the top five participants was recognized and awarded for their groundbreaking projects.

Hanga Pitch Fest 2023 Winners:

1st Place (50,000,000 RWF): Loopa by Cynthia Umutoniwabo

  • Loopa, securing the coveted 1st Place with a prize of 50,000,000 RWF, is a forward-thinking startup that harnesses IoT technology to address the issue of food waste by transforming it into organic fertilizer. Loopa’s solution contributes to the promotion of sustainable agricultural practices, benefiting farmers and the environment.

2nd Place (20,000,000 RWF): Hova AI by Arsene I. Muhire

  • Hova AI claimed the 2nd Place and a prize of 20,000,000 RWF. This startup offers a cutting-edge platform that delivers real-time sales, inventory, and customer behavior data. Targeting African SMEs, Hova AI empowers businesses to make informed decisions through data-driven insights.

3rd Place (15,000,000 RWF): Dope Initiatives by Gisubizo Abi Gaelle

  • Dope Initiatives took the 3rd Place with a reward of 15,000,000 RWF. This innovative startup focuses on sexual and reproductive health education through a game-based online quiz, providing an engaging and informative approach to an essential aspect of healthcare.

4th Place (12,500,000 RWF): Umurava by Vivens Uwizeyimana

  • Umurava secured the 4th Place and a prize of 12,500,000 RWF. This startup operates as a talent marketplace platform, connecting companies with Africa’s quality workforce specialized in in-demand skills, thereby facilitating efficient and strategic hiring.

5th Place (12,500,000 RWF): MediXR

  • Rounding off the top 5, the 5th Place was claimed by MediXR, earning a prize of 12,500,000 RWF. MediXR specializes in enhancing healthcare education through an immersive and interactive platform for medical training, leveraging innovative VR technology to transform the learning experience.

Hanga Pitch Fest still stands as a cornerstone in Rwanda’s innovation landscape, embodying the government’s commitment to creating an environment where youth startups can thrive. Through it, Rwanda continues to position itself as a hub for innovation and a catalyst for economic development driven by the energy and creativity of its young entrepreneurs.


Photo credit: The NewTimes

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