Rwanda: Local Tech Start-Ups Root for Market Penetration, Scalability

One of the challenges most tech start-ups face is market penetration. In today's competitive tech landscape, success hinges on a combination of a good product, effective marketing, and quick market saturation to discourage imitators and establish a critical-mass customer base.

According to Hinge Research Institute's High Growth Study, more than 6 in 10 leaders of tech firms said that they foresee the biggest challenge over the next three to five years to be unpredictability in the marketplace.

Challenges like those as well as the burning need to find solutions are what brings together different leaders of local tech start-ups into a discussion through kLab Startups Demo Night.

The initiative, according to Yeetah Kamikazi, General Manager of kLab, an open space for budding IT entrepreneurs, is where the start-ups showcase their projects, the scope of their operations and seek support and connection on how to expand their solution products from the experts and guest anchors.

Organised under the theme "market penetration and scalability for Tech Innovations", the Demo Night which took place on the night of June 17, saw different technology start-ups showcase their projects and discuss how they can broaden and sustain their opportunities with the guests.

As Rwanda hosts CHOGM, the event also adhered to connect start up entrepreneurs with tech professionals from CHOGM, to enhance their market scale and build adequate expertise towards sustainability and African economic transformation, through ICT.

Tadhim Uwizeye, Founder of Olado Business Group Ltd, an e-commerce platform, was among the speakers.

She tackled competition that is among e-commerce platforms and declared that she perceives it as a way of engaging customers and penetrating the market which also compel her company to perform well and better understand what their customers need.

She is aware that e-commerce is still new to some vendors and clients in Rwanda hence competition helps them to understand and trust their platforms.

"In Rwanda, we refer to people we know. A platform might be created by someone and you believe and trust in him and then start using his platform. If he performs well and offers you a good service, this will lead you to also trust other platforms that are doing e-commerce," she said.

Her challenge is that the market as well as the purchasing power of the community are still small although people started trusting them hence making them push hard to have more traffic on their platform, especially during CHOGM.

Angelo Igitego, founder of Karisimbi Technology Solutions, an e-health start-up, is aware that to run a company one needs to nurture the willingness of serving customers the best way, to have technical understanding of a sector they are serving as well as developed financial and management capacity.

He declared that the leaders of tech-start-ups should enrol themselves in capacity-building programs to acquire the skills they need, adding that to him, the big challenge is not funding.

"I believe that what I lack is not money but world class management skills. I am learning on a daily basis and I hope that within three to four years, I will be at a good level so that it will even be easy to attract bigger investors but also ensure that we can give them a good return on investment," he said.

Igitego is aware that African start-ups get funding more than those in other parts of the world but only 20% returns the money which is creating a bad reputation that will make it very hard for investors to trust Africa in the future.

He added: "We have to focus on understanding the value creation process and also the management process. You can't build an economy without those skills, especially if you are an entrepreneur," he said.

Frank Kwizera, a software engineer at Insightiv, a tele radiology and Artificial Intelligence (Ai) start-up, said that as a health care company, they need commercial approvals to operate and penetrate the market, declaring that it's still difficult to acquire them from issuing institutions like the Ministry of Health.

He said they are approaching private clinics of which some are interested in their solution and are planning to affiliate themselves to institutions like University of Global Health and Equity (UGHE).

"Our biggest challenge," he continued, "Is the regulations because none wants to approve you when they are not 100 per cent sure of what you are doing. We are going through the process with them because it'll be their first time to approve an Ai product to be deployed in a clinical setting," he said.

According to Kamikazi, kLab is planning to host many events and demos to empower different startups.

Angelo Igitego, Founder of Kalisimbi Technology Solutions speaking during the Demo Night.

Yeetah Kamikazi, General Manager of kLab, an open space for IT entrepreneurs during the event.

Tadhim Uwizeye, Founder of Olado Business Group Ltd, an e-commerce platform, was among the speakers.

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