Kigali: Fast-tracking economic development

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Kigali, the capital of Rwanda and the biggest city in the country with an estimate of 1 million people during the day and over 700,000 people at night. The city hosts the headquarters of the majority of the companies operating in the country.

With its great infrastructure, connectivity and stable electricity, Rwanda is ranked fastest growing economy in Africa and 2nd place for doing business on the continent, with easy access to East African markets like Burundi, DR Congo, Uganda, Tanzania, and Kenya.

Home to African Innovators

The government of Rwanda recognizes the importance of creating an enabling environment for innovators across the continent to be able to do business and established the Rwanda Development Board to fast-track economic development. It takes 6 hours to register a business, free of charge and with the entrepreneurship visa, immigrant founders/entrepreneurs can obtain a permit in 3 days if all requirements are met. No wonder companies like Volkswagen rolled out its ridesharing App (Move) in Kigali in 2018 and Andela – a Mark Zuckerberg backed software development company opened an office in June 2018. Other stakeholders include Carnegie Mellon University, which set up in 2012, and delivers worldclass engineering education to top talents from across Africa and Zipline International, a silicon valley based company that designs, builds, and operates small drone aircrafts, which began its first operations in Rwanda in 2016.

Co-working and Innovative Spaces

Co-working and innovation spaces are on the rise and currently, there is an estimate of 9 spaces actively building the startup culture and host most innovative companies in the city. Klab and Fablab, powered by Rwanda ICT Chamber, offer free 24/7 access to coworking space with wifi for innovators, startups, and makers. Kigali has also attracted international players like Impact Hub, Regus, and the Westerwelle Startup Haus.

Access to Finance


The country is deeply committed to developing it’s entrepreneurial and innovation ecosystem and awarded US$30 million in funding to support the establishment of the Rwanda Innovation Fund. Other funding organizations and programs include; Business Development Fund (Government initiative), Nguriza Nshore an initiative from USAID, GroFin, a private development finance institution, Rwanda Green Fund (FONERWA) and the Mastercard Foundation through its Hanga Ahazaza initiative. Some active VCs and networks include in the city includes; Bid Network, Leapfrog Ventures, DMM Africa and Capria VC.

Accelerators/Incubators

The city currently runs 2 active incubator programs, one of which is in collaboration with Japanese Corporation called 250 Startups, and the 2nd run by Inkomoko Urumuri initiative in partnership with Bank of Kigali – the biggest financial institution in the city.

Startup and Tech Activities

Kigali city was host to 201 international business events in 2018 and startup and tech community are not left behind with annual tech events like Africa Tech Summit, Transform Africa Summit – an annual gathering of 24 countries collaborating to push Smart Africa Agenda and GSMA Mobile 360 which brings together Africa’s tech and telecom landscape to shine the spotlight on Africa’s Digital Revolution. Monthly networking opportunities include Startup Grind Kigali events, Progate meetup and European Business Association Rwanda (EBAR) meetup.

Written by Startup Compound.