In celebration of its 50th anniversary, Bank of Kigali, one of the largest banks in Rwanda, launched its Urumuri initiative focused on investing in the future of Rwanda by supporting promising young entrepreneurs.
Bank of Kigali partnered with Inkomoko, a local business development accelerator, to help identify the best opportunities and work with the entrepreneurs to ensure they are investment ready. Inkomoko works with Rwanda’s most promising businesses to develop powerful new strategies that accelerate their growth. Since 2012, they have worked with hundreds of small and medium enterprises and this initiative aligned perfectly with their mission and expertise.
The initiative launched in March with a call for applications from budding and established entrepreneurs across the country. The promotion ran across radio, websites, social media, billboards, fliers, and was even highlighted on Rwandair in-flight displays in hope of reaching entrepreneurs across all of Rwanda.
The Inkomoko team evaluated over 400 applications looking for innovative ideas, ambitious entrepreneurs, commercial viability, and a strong potential for social impact. From these applications, they selected 50 of the most promising entrepreneurs.
Each of the selected entrepreneurs went on to participate in a 6-month business development program with Inkomoko which kicked-off with a 3-day bootcamp. Thereafter, the Inkomoko team conducted in-depth business assessments on each of the companies, reviewing their business model, operations, competition, marketing, financials, team and more. In addition to continued workshops every month, the entrepreneurs were each provided 50 hours of 1:1 individual consulting and mentoring, allowing the Inkomoko team to take what was discovered during the assessments and dive deeper into their unique challenges, needs, and opportunities.
The Urumuri initiative was created to not only provide entrepreneurs with training and mentorship but also potential access to funding. Bank of Kigali has set aside a fund of 60M Rwf to be issued to up to 8 of these companies in the form of interest-free loans.
On Wednesday, 13 finalists stood before a room full of Bank of Kigali executives and senior management, delivered a 5-minute business pitch, and then responded to questions from a panel of judges. The judges panel was made up of strategist Grace Mugabekazi, founder of Chapati and 4Blooms Kigali Nicole Bamukunde, and three executives from Bank of Kigali.
The companies were evaluated based on their use of technology, social impact potential, investment requirements, financial forecasts, value proposition, innovation, and their overall performance during the presentation and Q&A session.
Here’s a look at the 13 companies that pitched for Bank of Kigali:
PurePro — mechanical shop that repairs minor chips rather than replacing the entire car windshield
DSIS&T — provides irrigation services and training to farmers
Mvend — providing micro financial services to existing savings groups using a proprietary merchant payment integration and aggregation platform
Ubutware — digital financial service delivery company targeting those in rural areas
SafeMotos — focused on making mototaxi trips safer in Kigali and supporting their drivers with a new financial services project called Family Wallet
Mudacumura Publishing — publishes high-quality books for children in Kinyarwanda
Mergims — online payment platform for basic, urgent goods and services in Rwanda
Murukali — storefront and online store focused on making a wide range of products easily available
Yummy N Fresh — a wellness brand delivering healthy food and smoothies locally
Sustainable Social Business — producing affordable sanitary pads from banana fiber
Acofrego — camping and cultural tours within the Akagera National Park
WiredIn — software development company providing outsourced IT services
Karisimbi Wines — producer of beet and pineapple wines
Each of these entrepreneurs delivered a clear and confident pitch with a compelling reason that Bank of Kigali should consider investing in their company. The time, energy, and effort they put into preparing for the event was evident.
For those planning to pitch for investors in the near future, you can follow in the footsteps of the Urumuri finalists by keeping these 5 suggestions in mind while practicing and preparing your pitch:
1) Use fewer slides with less copy
The best pitches are by entrepreneurs that aren’t dependent on their slides.
While each slide should visually support your points, they should not present an actual script of what you plan to say. This approach will cause your audience to listen more closely, instead of reading your slides, and allow you to maintain consistent eye contact with them.
Five minutes flies by when you’re pitching. It really isn’t enough time to get too detailed. You should determine the most important pieces of information and craft your pitch to focus on those points.
2) Know your financials
Investors expect you to know your numbers. They want to believe that you are tracking your expenses and revenue and have put time into projections.
Your business model should be presented clearly, along with any data that supports that your target customer will happily pay your price.
When pitching investors, how you plan to use the funds, where that will get your business, why it matters, and when you expect to pay back the funds should all be made clear.
3) Address your competition head on
Trust me, you have competition. You need to intimately understand how your potential customers solve the problem you address now. Why are you the better solution and how will you convince them of that?
Being able to speak about your competition and your competitive advantages builds credibility and shows that you’ve done your research.
4) Convince them you are the right team
Think of your pitch as a performance. You should know your lines and actively engage with your audience. The investors should see how passionate and determined you are about your business just in the way you speak of it.
Further convince them that you are the right team by referencing any related education, training, and industry experiences.
5) Know your why
Why are you starting this company? Why is it important to you? Starting a company isn’t easy. It often takes years of struggling to finally become a stable and successful business. What is going to keep you going during the worst days?
Many of the businesses that pitched for Bank of Kigali are driven by a social impact initiative. What impact will your business have on the greater community? How will you make a difference in the world?
Keeping these suggestions in mind while crafting your pitch will certainly improve your performance and increase your odds of securing the capital you need.
Are you interested in learning who actually secured a loan from Bank of Kigali? The winners will be announced at an event on December 13th. Stay tuned!
Lisa Magill (@lisaamagill) is currently experteering as a MovingWorlds Impact Team fellow. Specifically she is in Kigali, Rwanda mentoring entrepreneurs that are participating in Inkomoko’s business development accelerator.