Friday, July 25, 2014

Visit to the kLab in Kigali

Friday morning Anna, Celeste, Emily, Laurie, and Louise met Jovani, Managing Director of the kLab,  and Yves, founder of CEO ELE Rwanda, at the kLab.  The lab was buzzing with young entrepreneurs working in small groups both inside and the outside on the patio.  We enjoyed a nice morning snack provided by the kLab Cafe and spent an hour or so with Jovani and Yves, learning how kLab is facilitating the Rwandan youth to start up small businesses based on IT.  

Jovani in the kLab Cafe

Young Entrepreneurs Working in the kLab

Jovani had lined up five kLab teams for a “Speed Geek” session.  I think the “Speed” in “Speed Geek” was supposed to mean just that—maybe 10 minutes for each talk.  But we couldn’t cut short the impressive presentations and then had many questions for the presenters ourselves.  All told, we probably spent 4 hours in the kLab.

Some of the kLab members who we met:

Pascal has a Bachelor’s degree in Information Technology from University of Rwanda.  His team is developing  an e-learning, e-curriculum and e-mentoring network specifically focused at connecting people in rural communities to resources.  They are creating an expert system that can recommend skilled resources to people based upon what they are trying to accomplish or common interest.  They have tutorials available on their website already as well as 71,000 members following them.  Currently they are improving the user interface and website usability.

Shikami  is a current student at the University of Rwanda.  His team is developing an agricultural application that will allow farmers to log their costs and activities in the field, and push information information about current market prices and preferred timing for agricultural milestones.    The tool will be free for farmers.  They intend to sell data gathered about the farming activities in different regions to businesses.

Pascal and Shikami Describe Their Projects

Eric, Abraham, Patrick just graduated from Secondary School and have already created a startup that is well on its way.  This team has developed a prototype web app, called Kadibra, for use in booking accommodations in the region.  Their app is unique in comparing detailed information about hotels in Rwanda and helping the visitor make an informed choice by showing the comparison side-by-side.  Their motto, “SSS,” stands get started early, start small, and design it to be simple for the user.  Visitors can book their room directly from Kadibra.

Eric, Abraham, and Patrick Meet with MSU Visitors

Cady’s project, Empowered Internet, is about increasing access and content quality of the internet to Rwandan communities. Her project is in the testing phase. In partnership with Google, she and her 8 co-workers take portable internet cafes to beaches and markets—anywhere that people gather. Cady is a graduate of the University of Rwanda with degree in Computer Science.  When asked how she became interested in studying computing, she replied that movies featuring technology captured her imagination. A couple of her favorites: iRobot and Men in Black." 

Cady Meets with MSU Visitors

Jean and his team of 5 colleagues have launched a Software Development Co called Torque.  Their company supports running a wholesale distribution system.  Their clients—currently drinking and telecommunication companies—use Torque to record sales transactions, generate financial reports, keep an eye on inventory at multiple locations, and make informed decisions about when to order new inventory.  They maintain a close relationship with their clients through both personal contact and an automated feedback system.  Wholesale distributers use their app as a service.     

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