Circularity Tales: Accelerating the transition in Rwanda
Impact Hub Kigali is a dynamic and forward-thinking innovation hub in Rwanda, dedicated to fostering sustainable business practices and social impact. As part of the global Impact Hub Network, it actively engages in promoting circular economy principles, evident in its successful conclusion of the Circular Economy Acceleration Program. Their commitment to nurturing innovative and socially responsible enterprises makes it a pivotal force in the sustainable development landscape in Rwanda and beyond.
As the global population continues to grow, so does the extraction of raw materials for consumer products each year. These resources are finite, and the widespread disposal of used products in landfills further compounds environmental challenges. To address this issue, the adoption of a circular economy model becomes imperative. By emulating nature’s cyclical processes, we can reduce raw material extraction, enhance product value, and create a closed-loop system, minimising environmental impact.
For entrepreneurs and startups, embracing circular economy principles presents a transformative opportunity. Impact Hub Network has delved into these possibilities, with 12 Hubs worldwide, including Impact Hub Kigali, integrating circularity into their programmes. With the support of the DOEN Foundation, the MAVA Foundation, and the GIZ Digital Transformation Center, Impact Hub Kigali successfully concluded the Circular Economy Acceleration Programme.
In Rwanda, the pilot programme began with a nationwide call for applications, resulting in the selection of six startups out of over 50 applicants. Each startup was paired with a sustainability coach to guide them in applying circular economy knowledge to test their innovations. Workshops and training sessions covering product/material journey mapping, circular opportunity identification, collaborations, and business modelling were provided. Furthermore, seed funding was offered to support the testing of circular innovations.
The programme culminated in a circular demo day, providing startups the platform to showcase progress and pitch to potential partners and investors. This event not only facilitated networking but also brought together relevant circular economy stakeholders, practitioners, and enthusiasts.
Beyond individual ventures, the pilot aimed to raise circular economy awareness in Rwanda. Impact Hub Kigali and the Digital Transformation Center are actively building a community of practice around the circular economy through events, workshops, and networking exchanges.
The six startups selected span diverse sectors such as agriculture, tourism, manufacturing, and health, incorporating technology into their business models.
Meet the startups
AFLIMBA: A creative space for rural artisans in Rwanda, uplifting craftsmanship and leadership skills through the production of fine handcrafted bags.
Greenrev Gr: A youth-led agribusiness focusing on reducing horticultural harvest losses and combating malnutrition through technological services.
Sanit Wing: An industrial company producing oils, cosmetics, and soaps from raw materials like avocado, with a commitment to affordable, custom, and organic products.
Kosmotive: Producers of breathable, non-toxic, and super absorbent reusable sanitary pads, promoting recycling and sustainable practices.
CropTech Ltd: An agri-tech company providing on-farm harvest handling services to maize growers, revolutionising the agricultural sector through modern technologies.
Ngozi Naturals: A conservation enterprise manufacturing natural beauty products by amplifying local plant benefits, emphasising natural, biodegradable, and recyclable products.
In the words of one participant from AFLIMBA, “I thought that I knew so much about the circular economy, but now I realise that I don’t. I like the feeling of not knowing and the opportunity to learn.” The journey towards circularity is not only transformative for individual ventures but also holds the promise of sustainable growth for businesses and a positive impact on the environment at large.
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