Rwanda: Ten Rwandan Start-Ups to Get Debt Financing Support

Ten eligible Rwandan start-ups will benefit from debt financing facility of up to €50,000 and get expert coaching in a business accelerator programme dubbed "Sustainable Technology for Africa Rwanda 2021".

The programme is organised by Entrepreneurs for Entrepreneurs (OVO), a Belgium-based investment and entrepreneurship group.

On Tuesday June 2, ten most outstanding and sustainable start-ups will be announced and are set to benefit from the programme dubbed Sustech4Rwanda, which is aimed at helping start-ups to remain resilient through debt financing and management support.

"We will announce the new cohort of 10 transformational, early-stage businesses. Myself and the General Manager, Bjorn Macauter will be in Kigali to launch the programme," said Andrew Herweg, the Rwanda Programme Lead.

OVO provides debt financing of between €5,000 and €50,000, which they describe as a unique approach from other investor groups and angel networks which usually provide simple agreement for future equity (SAFE), convertible notes or equity investments.

"The approach is to use debt financing as a 'learning tool' for entrepreneurs to get them in the habit of managing their money and expenditure appropriately. Too often entrepreneurs think the popular form of capital is 'free money' but in reality, debt financing is cheaper and easier to manage," he explained.

In addition to financing, OVO says it has a network of over 120 coaches, all successful or current entrepreneurs, advisors and investors based either in Rwanda or Belgium, who are on-hand to provide free guidance and support to companies in the yearly cohort to ensure medium and long-term success.

Debt financing

Through the SusTech4Africa programme, the Belgium-based group provides debt financing and expert capital to pre-seed start-ups.

Last year, in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, OVO managed to invest €168,500 across eight companies in Rwanda, Senegal and Uganda. In 2021, it has already invested in a Rwandan health-tech start-up and is looking to invest up to €300,000 by the close of the year.

About the Accelerator

Applications for start-ups opened in March through May.

Dozens of start-ups submitted their entries in the SusTech4Rwanda programme, which was announced in collaboration with BAG Innovation, the African Leadership University (ALU), the Challenges Group Rwanda and Shared Value Africa Initiative.

Applying start-ups were required to share their profiles, product line or services, revenues, business model, basic financials, team details, proof of traction and business registration and a 1-minute video on why they should be part of the programme.

Participating start-ups are bullish ahead of the event in Kigali, which among other things will see the winners lined up for possible financing and investment.

UmuravaWork, a one-stop Pan-African freelance marketplace and EdTech start-up, says it is excited to join the SusTech4Rwanda Programme by OVO due to the benefits that will come with the accelerator.

"We are going to get the business experts and coaches who will help us to set our company at a level that will lead to the efficient operations for all solutions we are having for African continent starting from Rwanda,"

"Secondly, we are looking for investments for us to grow, develop, and scale and we consider to benefit from impact investors from OVO. Significantly, this will be an opportunity to expand our network and we see it as another source for our company's clients," the start-up told The New Times.

The selected start-ups will undergo a 'Business boot camp' and later the 'demo and investor day', during which they will be linked to potential investors and funders will take place in September.

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