Kasha to represent Rwanda in global tech competition

Saturday December 17 2016

Mergims, 2015’s local winner was a money

Mergims, 2015’s local winner was a money transfer start -up used by diaspora. PHOTO | CYRIL NDEGEYA 

By Jean Pierre Afadhali

A Rwandan tech start-up that sells and delivers women’s health products confidentially over a mobile platform will represent the country in a global technology competition next year.

Last week, Kasha, a digital healthcare start-up, emerged national winner in the Seedstar world challenge, a competition for emerging markets and fast-growing start-ups.

Kasha will pitch its business solution at the Seedstars Summit in Switzerland to compete for up to $1 million (Rwf812 million) in equity investment.

“Kasha exists because women are the biggest business opportunity and the way women access health products today is uncomfortable and sometimes embarrassing,” said Joanna Bichsel, co-founder and chief executive of the start-up.

Last year, the local winner was Mergims, a money transfer start-up, used by Rwandans abroad to make transactions back home for services such as tuition payment, air time purchase, and electricity for their relatives.

The founder Louis Antoine Muhire has told Rwanda Today, the competition helped him structured his business for broader reach.

According to Mr Muhire, Mergims is growing both in number of users and value per transaction.

As part of Seedstar competition, 11 other local start-ups pitched their ideas to an expert panel from global tech companies and local firms that use ICT to add value to their businesses.

According to Mr Muhire, one of key obstacles for local start-ups is skilled labour.

“Qualified technicians are the major issue,” Mr Muhire said, the ones available from Carnegie Mellon University are very expensive for startups.

The American University set up a campus in Kigali to train skilled technology professionals. “The graduates from colleges need more training which slows our progress,” said, the techpreneur.