Clarisse Iribagiza is at the fore-front of Rwanda’s booming tech scene

BY BOLA JOHNSON

Clarisse Iribagiza is another torch bearer for the new crop of trail blazing female tech entrepreneurs in Rwanda and Africa in general. She has also made it her agenda to inspire the next generation of techies. She has broken several barriers taking her company HeHe Limited to the very top of Rwanda’s information technology industry.

The mobile technology company has been successful enough to set Clarisse apart as a major voice in Rwanda’s fast emerging tech scene.

In 2015, African entrepreneurs making noticeable strides in the tech industry were invited to speak at the sixth annual Pakasa Forum organised by Vision Group. The event was organised as Vision Group’s effort to inspire Ugandan entrepreneurs by exposing them to stories of individuals with interesting success stories. The speakers’ stories would also provide actionable insights into mindset change, personal responsibility to success, and hard work, as it concerns entrepreneurial success. Attendees from within Uganda and East Africa were especially impressed and motivated by Clarisse Iribagiza’s story as she laid out her entrepreneurial journey.

Her early influences were her parents. Born to a teacher and an entrepreneur, she and her siblings were taught to pursue impactful and meaningful careers which prepared them largely for the future .

She started to develop the idea for her business during her days studying computer engineering at the University of Rwanda’s College of Science and Technology. The idea came after she participated in a Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) incubation programme. She was able put puzzle pieces together, relating what she was learning in school with its application in the real world.

Clarisse Iribagiza eventually setup HeHe Labs in 2010. Since its inception she has been able to work creatively with young, enthusiastic individuals to build mobile information systems and research significant mobile technologies for Africa. HeHe Limited now provides top notch solutions for businesses and organisations alike. Using information systems, the company has been to help these businesses reach their audiences faster and more conveniently.

Iribagiza says the company’s greatest success is not just building systems that have enhanced operational efficiency for a number of organisations across Africa but the creation of a research arm that trains and inspires hundreds of Rwandan youths to be major players in Africa’s technology revolution.

The company has also gone on to create programmes for about 80 Small and medium enterprises to enable them interact with their customers in different locations at the same time, all through HeHe.com. Additionally, Clarisse’ team built a platform where girls could send in questions about challenges they were facing and get almost instant responses.

Together with other budding young ICT entrepreneurs, she launched an initiative called iHills. The program provides mentoring as well finance to startups in and around Rwanda.

Italian think tank, LSDP (Lo Spazio Della Politica), named her among its top 100 global thinkers in 2014. She was nominated among Africa’s most promising young entrepreneurs under 30 by Forbes magazine in 2015. In 2013 she was also awarded the Celebrating Young Rwandan Achievers (CYRWA) award by the Imbuto Foundation. The initiative was founded by Rwanda’s First Lady, Jeanette Kagame, an initiative started to provide welfare and healthcare to vulnerable people in Rwanda.

Clarisse has expressed her desire to innovate and develop technologies that would impact Africa positively in the future. The focus of the research arm at HeHe for the future is to collaborate with young innovators across Africa to come up with inventions that fit perfectly into the African structure and can improve various parts of the spectrum.

Source CPAFRICA

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Younger Rwandans are Most Affected by Trauma

By Hudson Kuteesa

A recent study by Rwanda Biomedical Centre estimated the prevalence of trauma to be at 3.6 per cent among the general population (14 to 65 years old).

But among Genocide survivors, trauma was estimated at 27.9 per cent of which 18.5 per cent, are within the 24-35 age group. These were either not yet born by the time of the Genocide or were very young.

“It is true that among the people with trauma related to the Genocide against the Tutsi, we, unfortunately, find young people who were not born at the time,” said Dr Jean Damascène Iyamuremye, Director of Psychiatric Care Unit, Mental Health Division of the Rwanda Biomedical Centre.

He referred to it as “transgenerational or intergenerational trauma” which he defines as the transference of emotional, physical, or social pain from one person to their descendants.

The doctor said the concept of that kind of trauma originated after World War II where various studies proved that children and grandchildren of Holocaust survivors demonstrated certain symptoms of trauma,

“Nightmares, emotional and behavioural problems showed that the original trauma of the grandparent or parent had far-reaching effects,” he added.

He explained that the mind develops like the body through internal growth, the influence of the environment, and education. He pointed to the importance of child-rearing styles and education as key determinants in the development of the mind.

Conscious or subconscious memory and narrative that surrounds the family dynamic also plays a role.

“Here, the past continues to make itself present in different ways. Nevertheless, it can have much further reaching effects. It can even have repercussions on a genetic level,” he says.

Dr Iyamuremye gave an example of the impact that fear and suffering, as it elevates the levels of cortisol (a hormone that is released in response to stress and low blood-glucose concentration).

“Over the course of several years, these elevated levels can cause disorder on the body,” he said.

However, he says, transgenerational or intergenerational trauma doesn’t mean that the pain experienced by parents or grandparents will 100 per cent determine who their children are. Though, it means that they have a higher possibility of suffering from trauma-related disorders.

On his part, Prof. Jean Pierre Dusingizemungu, the president of Ibuka, an umbrella organisation of Genocide survivors groups, said trauma is transmitted through various ways to the younger generation but however noted that resilience is also transmitted.

“One of the significant moments in the transmission of trauma is the commemoration of the Genocide,” he says.

In a text he wrote, he described the week-long commemoration events like one that provides time for prayer, political speeches, testimonies, films, songs, exhumation and burial in dignity of the bodies of people killed during the genocide thrown here and there.

With that setting, he said, it was impossible to keep hidden memories of experiences endured during the Genocide.

In addition, the commemoration ceremonies often take place in very sensitive and significant places.

“Locations that are reminiscent of places where the genocidaires were extremely murderous, where the mass graves were used, where the international community cowardly abandoned thousands of candidates for the atrocious and imminent death, where bulldozers demolished a church engulfing nearly 3000 Tutsi who had taken refuge in it seeking protection from the same priest who ordered its macabre demolition.

Symbolically, these places constantly transmit traumatic messages,” he says.

Leaving the commemoration time aside, he hinted on operations to exhume and rebury bodies of victims. Unlike in the past where they waited for commemoration time, now it is done at different times of the year.

He said the work of mourning is blocked since when the bodies are found, they no longer belong to the family.

“They become like public property, they are put in common coffins, kept in an administrative office somewhere before being officially buried at a date chosen by the administration,” he said.

“Another way of mourning is forged but on a traumatic background. But whether we like it or not, Rwandans need genocide-specific mourning rituals. These rites constitute a container. These are interesting spaces for expressing emotions”.

He also talks about films viewed during the commemoration time.

“Sometimes, the violence of the images is too heavy. It’s obvious that movies are a powerful medium,” he noted.

He, however, noted that in recent years, it was decided to retain only educational films, those that are not very violent.

Dusingizemungu also looked into the possibilities of transmitting the trauma through the justice process.

He gives an example of the Gacaca process where survivors were deeply shocked by the fact that some Rwandans were silent, did not want to explain what they did or saw or refused to testify.

Source The New Times

Rwanda: How best can the youth fight bad vices?

Children and Youth is a non-profit organisation 

By Lydia Atieno

Raising a child with proper manners takes effort. With today’s society dripping with temptation almost everywhere, establishing a morally upright background can be tough.

Going by this, ‘Children and Youth’ will launch Rwanda student’s lifestyle at Amahoro National Stadium this week with the aim of helping high school and university students fight bad vices such as drug abuse, transmission of HIV/AIDS and gender-based violence.

Children and Youth is a non-profit organisation with vocational programmes that help children between the age of five and 18 explore their talent in sports.

The youth should be encourged to stay away from vices such as drinking alcohol. Net photo.

Through sports, students are brought together to interact and discuss these issues.

Educators have a big role to play

Silvia Mahoro, a youth mentor and counsellor, says some vulnerable students may resort to risky behaviour to get necessities.

Mahoro says there is also lack of psychosocial guidance programmes in many schools and that although every educator is supposed to provide that support, not everyone is willing to provide it.

She believes the media also has a role to play in this.

“Sometimes what is exposed by the media makes young people curious to experience and indulge in,” she says.

Omer Mayobere, a psychologist at Caring for Impact Ministries (CIM), an NGO that promotes life in all its fullness among the youth, notes that most of the time, youth engage in dangerous activities due to factors such as family conflict, poverty, absence of parents to provide love, care and affection or a result of inter-generational issues from parents.

He is of the view that for this to be handled, educators should be trained first for them to understand why the youth get into such vices in the first place. He believes if they are equipped with enough knowledge, the youth will be given the right education on the effects of drug use not only as a disciplinary issue, but as a vice that has serious repercussions.

Educators on the other hand must have knowledge on human development, especially an understanding about teenage hood, Mayobere says. This, he says, will help them understand the world of the youth, change their attitude towards them, and provide approaches to use and deal with the issue of bad influence.

He advises educators to create weekly, monthly or quarterly dialogues, where different themes can be developed centred on the causes or effects of drug abuse. This will help students invent their own solutions, he says.

“This must be a participatory platform where educators create a conducive atmosphere to help students feel free to share their ideas. This will help them engage in fighting such vices,” Mayobere says.

According to Nelson Mukasa, Executive Director of Children and Youth, educators should encourage students to take vows or sign a social contract between themselves to fight against the issues affecting them. This can be done between schools and the Government, as it will help set a self-regulating mechanism on the prevention of such issues.

He says this must be a learning process to encourage ownership, adding that schools must have some campaigns using people who have overcome the vices to share their stories and learn from them.

When it comes to GBV, Mayobere says it’s ideal for teachers to be trained in gender sensitive approaches with emphasis on positive masculinity; this means that they (teachers) must have a structure on how to address these issues, and students on the other hand must have accountability.

Sylvester Twizerimana, a psychologist, says schools must schedule GBV dialogues in class in order to empower each and every student, in a way that students own the issue and implement creative resolutions.

He says many educators have little knowledge on these topics yet in some cases they are the ones suspected to misbehave, especially with GBV and risks related to HIV transmission.

“There is a gap in communication between parents and students, it is hard for young people to get into deep conversations on these issues with their parents because parents may not be knowledgeable, or their attitude is always tough disciplinary measures,” he says.

This makes children distant from their parents, yet they are supposed to get advice and help from schools as well as home, he adds.

Call for awareness

Aflodis Kagaba, the executive director of Health Development Initiative (HDI), says one of the main challenges when it comes to fighting such issues is that many youngsters are not aware of them or even the dangers associated with them.

He says there is an increase in drug use in the country with the youth ranking at the top.

According to statistics from Kigali Health Institute, more than half the youth in the country (14 to 35) have consumed one or more kinds of drugs.

Research shows that overall lifetime prevalence rate for substance use among the Rwandan youth is 52.5 per cent.

Kagaba, therefore, says if the youth are not educated on the dangers of drugs, the number will likely increase because a big number of them are idle and unemployed; thus resorting to abusing drugs, leading to other vices.

He says because the youth are at times lured to these vices as a result of stress or peer influence, there is need to come up with mechanisms at the community level to help address the issue.

He also points out that educators should provide right and accurate information on the dangers.

“The main aim of creating this awareness is to prevent them from abusing, but at the same time, those who are addicted need to be supported mentally and psychologically and helped to quit the vice.”

Kagaba believes that sporting is important because it attracts many, making it easy to pass information.

He says through sports, the youth are able to understand such issues. It also helps them reach out to their peers.

“When they are aware, they will most likely abstain from these vices, including drugs and sexual activity, thus avoiding unwanted pregnancies, HIV and other infections,” he says.

Kagaba adds that the most important aspect is that awareness through sports can encourage the youth to share and talk about the dangers of these vices, which is helpful as far as abstinence is concerned.

Kagaba also says that young people should be encouraged to take part in prevention measures, especially boys who are more likely to be the perpetrators of GBV.

Source The New Times

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Rwanda: Young Executives Call for More Business Friendly Policies

By Collins Mwai

The young business community in Rwanda has decried persistence of specific challenges such as stringent tax regimes, access to capital, lack of access to skills as well as lack of friendly policies.

Speaking at a roundtable convened by the Rwanda Development Board, young business executives called for a review of policies to take into account concerns of local operators.

For instance a section of emerging enterprises there is not enough awareness on tax policies and obligations by a large section of firms which often leads them to incur penalties.

Mbabazi said the forum is another effort to ensure that youths are provided with the right environment for growth. /Emmanuel Kwizera.

Other say that the tax regime does not take into account priority sectors that the government is trying to attract the youth to venture into.

For instance, Water Access Rwanda Chief Executive Christelle Kwizera questioned why water infrastructure was not part of the sectors eligible for 15 per cent Corporate Income Tax despite being a priority sector.

Further concerns were on the efficiency of Value Added Tax refunds system which has been said to hold up capital for firms.

Rwanda Revenue Authority owes about Rwf 30 billion to different members of the business community in value added tax refunds.

Other cited the ununiformed manner of implementation of tax policies largely owing to lack of understanding by RRA professionals.

Young investors also said that the ecosystem could use a review of export promotion efforts and initiatives which they said are not effective at the moment.

Gloria Kamanzi, the founder of Glo Creations, which is involved in fabrics, said that to match the national ambitions for exports, there is need to establish export facilitation support mechanism.

This, she said, would enable emerging entrepreneurs make the most of trade windows such as Alibaba to ensure increased access to global markets for local products.

Regis Umugiraneza’s the first Vice Chairman of the Private Sector Federation Chamber of Young Entrepreneurs also called for an intervention in entry requirements for sectors.

For instance, acquiring a tourism operation license, he said, requires as much as $1200, which is out of reach for a large number of start-ups and firms.

Other concerns include the absence of coaching and mentoring platforms for emerging players in the business community.

In regards to accessing capital for their ventures, Central Bank Governor John Rwangombwa said that is important to look beyond banks as the sole source of revenue as most have expensive loans. Noting that this was a consequence of risk factors and cost of banks’ capital, Rwangombwa said that as the local private sector capacity develops, there is going to be a growing interest by venture capitalists.

RDB Chief Executive Officer Clare Akamanzi, said that there are multiple opportunities for emerging through international Electronic-Trade Platforms like Alibaba which now has demand for products such as Avocados, pineapples, beef and chilli among other products.

She expressed their readiness to take in concerns by the youthful business community to improve conditions.

The youthful business community remains of significance to achieve targets such as job creation, GDP growth, reduction of imports and increase of exports.

RDB Chief Operating Officer Guy Baron said that the young business community has a role in the ambitions through ways such as increasing private investment to about 22 per cent to GDP from the current 13 per cent, creation of about 1.5 million jobs by 2020 among others.

The Minister for Youth, Rosemary Mbabazi, said that to achieve the higher middle income economy status, the economy needs a wide range of entrepreneurs, including the youth.

“For Rwanda to develop into a higher middle income economy as set out in Vision 2050, we need a robust private sector which need not only be composed of big investors but also young entrepreneurs who can tap into the many available opportunities. Both locally and regionally, there are many opportunities to tap into, especially in agriculture, manufacturing and in the service industry,” said.

Source The New Times

Rwanda Youth Volunteers In Community Policing Congress


By Staff Writer


At least 304 youngsters, on Monday, joined the Rwanda Youth Volunteers in Community Policing (RYVCP) in Gakenke District.

The new members are from the three sectors of Cyabingo (80), Busengo (164) and Rusasa (60).

The District Police Commander for Gakenke, Chief Inspector of Police (CIP) Viateur Ntiyamira, while welcoming the new community policing members in Cyabingo Sector, thanked them for recommitting to the “good cause” of preventing crimes and improving the wellbeing of the people.

He, however, reminded them that the new responsibilities take into account the discipline, setting an example and sacrifice.

“You have committed yourselves to ensuring crime-free communities but also to support community development activities; it’s not just being a member of youth volunteers… it’s about influencing change, reporting drug dealers, being the voice against corruption and for the women and girls whose rights are being violated,” CIP Ntiyamira told the youth.

The youth group was created in 2013 to supplement the Rwanda National Police (RNP) community policing ideology through community awareness against crimes and supporting the country’s human security activities through Umuganda, environmental protection and promoting healthy living, among others.

The organization currently has over 270, 000 members across the country. The new members brought the number of youth volunteers to 6, 929 in Gakenke District alone.


Source taarifa


Rwanda: Kagame calls for more inclusion of youth in governance matters


By Collins Mwai


President Paul Kagame has said that good governance has a role and responsibility to ensure that young Africans have a real stake in a bright future on their continent.

Kagame was speaking in Dubai, United Arab Emirates while delivering a key note address at the seventh World Government Summit.

The annual summit is dedicated to shaping the future of governments worldwide with a focus on how they can harness innovation and technology to solve universal challenges facing humanity.

The head of state said that governance must primarily focus on equipping the youth with the requisite skills to compete and succeed globally.

“We want young Rwandans and their peers across Africa to remain connected to their countries and each other. We have a responsibility to ensure that young Africans have a real stake in a bright future on their own continent. It is our responsibility to equip them with the skills to compete and succeed globally. This should be our primary focus and it is doable,” he said.

The President said that this was among the reasons Africa was keen on participatory integration to have greater economic relevance.

Participating in bigger markets is vital for our economic future. By 2050, Africa’s population will be two and a half billion, larger than any other continent. We will only realise our full promise by joining together our historically fragmented markets and making it easier for people, goods and services to move across our continent,” Kagame said.

This, he said, was part of the reasons why the African Union had adopted the African Continental Free Trade Area – which is due to enter into force later this year as well as the Protocol on the Free Movement of People and agreed a Single African Air Transport Market.

Sharing Rwanda’s governance practices and experience, President Kagame said that good governance and accountability is central to everything as the country works to reverse a legacy of extreme corruption and division that nearly completely destroyed the country.

“Good governance and accountability is central to everything we do. In Rwanda’s case, we are working to reverse a legacy of extreme corruption and division in our society that nearly completely destroyed our country,” the President said.

Among the guiding principles in the country is an understanding that leaders and institutions are in place to respond to the expectations of citizens. This he said is complemented by a focus on civic participation and trust ensuring that everyone is included in shaping the country’s future.

He also noted the importance of investment in human capital and other driving factors of prosperity.

“We have done our best to get the most out of the resources we do have and find creative ways to fill the gaps,” he said.

To lay the foundation and make progress, he noted that Rwanda has had to start transforming the basis of the economy from subsistence to knowledge in order to unleash creativity, entrepreneurship and innovation.

“Our strategy has been to get government out of the business of business and focus instead on creating a conducive enabling environment and a level playing field for private enterprise,” the head of state told the summit.

The summit looks at trends of governance, best practices, replicable models as well as role of governance aspects such as Sustainable Development Goals.

This year’s gathering highlighted Rwanda as a guest country and will showcase Rwanda’s progress in the tourism and agriculture sector. The other two guest countries at this year’s Summit are Estonia and Costa Rica.

The annual global gathering hosts over 4000 participants and invites Heads of State and Government as well as international organisations’ representatives and experts from over 100 countries.

On the sidelines of the summit, President Kagame met Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed bin Sultan Al-Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and the Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE’s Armed Forces, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of the Emirate of Dubai and the Vice President of Costa Rica, Epsy Campbell Barr.


Source The New Times