You are here

Fostering Innovation to Respond to COVID-19 Challenges in Rwanda

The Innovation Accelerator, first launched in 2016, as an initiative and model aiming at exploring new and engaging ways to tackle pressing sexual reproductive health challenges in the country while promoting social entrepreneurship among young people. Its second phase awarded, on 13th December 2019, the top 3 projects:  Urukundo Initiative, Flavours of Family Planning and Keza 3D Game. In early 2020 just as COVID-19 pandemic rose, awarded teams entered the mentorship and incubation stage to further develop their prototypes and elaborate their business plans.

 


Top 3 awarded solutions of iAccelerator Phase II  awarded by the First Lady of Rwanda and key government and partner Representatives.

 

As the current unprecedented pandemic swept around the world, Rwanda took national safety guidelines in response to the spread of COVID-19. Incubation activities which required in-person interaction were cancelled, while Imbuto Foundation and partners continued to provide remote support to the projects. UNFPA Rwanda reached out to the iAccelerator Phase 2 winners and the Tantine, one of the winners from Phase 1, to know how they are coping amid this challenging period of COVID-19.

 

So far we have been able to value even more how the iAccelerator engages men and boys in the journey to fight against teenage pregnancies. This gave us more courage to value our project and we have been able to produce a TV show, partner with civil society organizations, and our youtube channel is now active” said Cyprien Iradukunda from Flavours of Family Planning project.

 

We have hit several milestones. Under close mentorship and advice from Imbuto Foundation, we successfully registered our business in Rwanda Development Board and we are finalizing the legal validation of the contents of our board game package product. We were impressed by how young people and parents liked and were excited about our educational board game. Our minimum viable product and the video for user’s guide is now ready and going to be released to the market soon” said Mick Ndayishimiye, one of the young innovators of Urukundo Board Game

 

The top 3 innovative solutions were awarded 10,000 USD each as seed capital for their businesses; and have needed to adapt in accordance with the Country’s measures to limit the spread of the virus.

 

“The COVID-19 crisis visibly affected Tantine. The launch of the Tantine App in partnership with the Medical Students Association of Rwanda could not proceed as planned. Additionally, we also had to postpone the final approval and validation of our platforms by the Rwanda Biomedical Centre and other planned capacity building activities were suspended.” said Muzungu Hirwa Sylvain of Tantine (@Tantinerw)

 

Our team members had to work remotely causing delays and difficulties in working efficiently. Due to the pandemic, the materials that we had ordered did not reach us yet and this is affecting our business plan.” said Robert Mugisha of Keza 3D Game (@kezagame)


The main character from Keza 3D game, Keza wearing a mask

 

To respond to the challenges exacerbated by COVID-19 to provide sexual and reproductive health information and services, the iAccelerator winners are tirelessly continuing their efforts to innovate.

 

URUKUNDO Initiative is trying to solve the challenge of scarce SRH information, further exacerbated by the pandemic, through an innovative social media campaign using online posters, as well as videos, in unique fashion called ‘’Did You Know’’ linked to a corresponding “Action To Take” in both English and Kinyarwanda. Mick said.

Tantine is currently focusing on producing SRH information that is more readily available during this pandemic. In addition to asking youth questions in Tantine Forums, on Facebook and Instagram, we temporarily set up a WhatsApp number where people can ask SRH-related questions. Most of all, Tantine app and Tantine web are finally all available no”. said Sylvain.

 

Wishes from the iAccelerator Winners

 

Urukundo Initiative

 

 

“ We hope that every Rwandan family and youth can play the URUKUNDO Board Game and enjoy trustful SRH information that enables them to protect themselves from risky sexual behaviours and their consequences.

 

 Flavours of Family Planning.

 

 

“ We wish to have reached as many men and boys as possible and contributed to their behaviour change positively affecting the decrease of teenage pregnancies in Rwanda”

 

Keza 3D Game

 

 

“ We encourage future participants to have the courage and work hard but also put themselves in the hands of God as he is the one who really grants everything”

Tantine

 

“ For future innovators: Stay motivated: the motivation people start with is fueled by the need they found in people, the story that touched their hearts. But with time this frequently fails, as we tend to lose that motivation that burned fire in our hearts. Even if it’s not working in the beginning, your work ends up paying off”

 

A new call for the iAccelerator Phase 3 will be launched in coming months to seek another top 3 innovative solutions to the issues faced by youth in Rwanda in fulfilling their SRH needs and rights. Stay tuned for updates on the iAccelerator twitter account and Imbuto Foundation website.