A platform for youth innovation and entrepreneurship known as Emerging leaders and Entrepreneurs of Rwanda has inaugurated awards dubbed ‘the Rwandan youth and business excellence awards’ meant to recognize young innovators, promote innovation and creativity among young budding entrepreneurs.
The youth-led platform known for its acronym ELE Rwanda was founded mainly by beneficiaries of Rwanda presidential scholarship program who attended American universities. The platform’s members say, what they hope to accomplish and the impact of business awards is to see an increase in youth- oriented investment and more achievement championed by the youth.
The inaugural awards ceremonies gala was held last week. Nominees were divided in four categories: the most innovative youth project or startup, the Most Desired Workplace, Creativity Award for a creative idea from a group of students, and Innovation Champion for an institution that promotes job creation and entrepreneurship.
Babson -Rwanda entrepreneurship center scooped the Innovation Champion award.Haya Alzaid is the country director .She said, the award is an opportunity to raise more awareness about what they are doing.
“Hopefully to get more support and to get more people, entrepreneurs and youth involved in other programs. Really that’s what it means.” explains Alzaid.
The awards initiators also hope the recognition will inspire others established and budding young entrepreneurs to be innovative.
Yves Iradukunda is the founder .He said: “The essence of this event is to celebrate but when we celebrate we want aspire and encourage for more.so we are recognizing the young innovators because we want them to serve as role models, to help other young people believe that they can accomplish and they can do it.”
Girls in ICT, a youth- led organization that was one of the nominees in the most innovative project category for Miss Geek competition.Akaliza Gara is a co-founder, she explained how their project is innovative:” We find that many young women and girls grew up thinking that they can only be celebrated for their beauty, so we wanted to show them that they can be celebrated for their intelligence and skills and those are also very valuable quality in a woman.”
” I think as innovative as they [youth] want to be, it’s all in the mindset change. It’s making sure that you say to yourself: I can be as innovative as I want to be. “Commented Ms. Alzaid
Jean Niyotwagira is the founder of Torque Ltd. , a tech start- up that creates softwares for SMEs .He emerged the winner of the most innovative youth start-up. He said:” What this means to me is that I am actually getting there, people are starting to recognize and not just recognizing what I do as a person but publicly,”.
Niyotwagira added:” so, I take this chance to apply more hard work to produce something even better.”Niyotwagira said, next time he wants something bigger like beyond what he has already been able to achieve.
Dr. Mike O’Neal, Chancellor of the University of Rwanda graced the awards functions .He told the audience, innovation is not only about ICT and science. “Those of you who happen to be artists, or happen to be linguists, or happen to be medical people or happen to be in any field so there is room for creativity, there is the room for innovation everywhere.”
Clare Akamanzi, the Chief Operating Officer of RDB was the key note speaker at the awards ceremonies. In her speech ,she reminded the participants, the country’s vision is to become a knowledge- based economy and is very much going to be led by how quickly the citizens can innovate and how entrepreneurs they can become and produce more commercial ideas.
Akamanzi said: “The innovation and creativity that we see is really going to come from you young people, and so seeing the initiatives that you take, I think it is very crucial and very timely,”
School of Entrepreneurship is a youth organization that supports entrepreneurship and innovation in high schools through business ideas competition and debates. It won the creativity award. Patrice Habinshuti , its founder said:” The award shows that what we are doing is valuable and we are contributing to the growth of this country,”
ELE Rwanda was given the Creativity Award in 2013 by The Journal record- an American publication.
The business awards’ nominations were open to the public from June 1-10 July 2014, and they will be held annually.