The Rwandan government has become the latest on the continent to start working on implementing a Startup Act, which it hopes will spur the development of the country’s tech-based services industry.
The Startup Act will soon go to parliament in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), and related laws and decrees are being worked on or explored in almost 20 African countries.
To bring this home, the Rwandan government has called upon Innovation for Policy Foundation (i4Policy); the same organisation that was instrumental to the feat achieved in both Tunisia and Senegal.
i4Policy, a pan-African community of over 160 innovation hubs in 45 countries across Africa, has launched a continental consultation to shape the next version of the Africa Innovation Policy Manifesto.
i4Policy launched a pan-African consultation on innovation policy in February 2020
The Innovation for Policy Foundation – a not-for-profit organisation established to sustain i4Policy’s activities – has built an open online consultation platform to gather feedback on the manifesto. The foundation has partnered with Facebook to build chatbot tools to be integrated into social media platforms, enabling even more people to provide their input. In parallel, i4Policy will mobilise hubs in at least 45 countries to host focus groups on the manifesto with their communities of entrepreneurs.
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i4Policy has been central to the development of other African Startup Acts, with a Tunisian act already in place and a Senegalese version set for implementation soon.
Aim Characteristics of the policy
- Establish a continent-leading startup ecosystem, and to legislate for this the Rwandan government has recruited the Innovation for Policy Foundation (i4Policy) to draft a national Startup Act.
- Will follow its usual method of launching a Policy Hackathon, (A Policy Hackathon is a proven format for engaging entrepreneurial ecosystems constructively in policy reform dialogue, which will bring together important local founders and investors to ensure the Rwanda Startup Act is informed by their experiences building and growing businesses.)
The Policy Hackathon (Rwandese Edition)
A hackathon is an event where computer programmers and other experts collaborate to develop new software and applications. A policy hackathon works in much the same way. A mix of stakeholders are invited to a facilitated, user-driven policy workshop to harness their collective intelligence and design solutions for identified problems. During these hackathons, policy-users are asked to adopt a policymaker’s perspective to create and propose legislation that can dismantle barriers to innovative entrepreneurship.
It will be split into three sessions, with the first organised as a public webinar on Thursday, August 27 to introduce the Startup Act to inform the wider public about the reform initiative. The session will be live-streamed on the Ministry of ICT and Innovation Facebook page, with registration open here.
The second and third sessions (September 1 and 2) will target a cohort of 60 entrepreneurs, investors and service providers. Participants will be selected from amongst the attendees and registrants of the public webinar.
Fun Fact –The first i4Policy hackathon took place at Impact Hub Kigali in 2017 in partnership with the Rwandan Ministry of Commerce, DfID and the Swiss Government. The local entrepreneurial community worked with the government to draft Rwanda’s national strategy for private sector development and youth employment.
How the Startup Act has changed Tunisia’s startup ecosystem
Ali Mnif a co-founder of event creation and a project company, MAZAM. He was also one of the main designers/lobbyists of the legislation and a member of the Tunisian Startup Act Taskforce. To him, the Startup Act is more than just a bunch of laws on paper but a recognition of the entrepreneurial efforts of young Tunisians.
The Tunisian Startup Act in a nutshell
As stated on the official website, the Startup Act is an unprecedented legal framework dedicated to startups and supported by the Tunisian Government.
It was developed in a participatory and collaborative way by all stakeholders in the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Tunisia under the supervision of the Ministry of Communication Technologies and Digital Economy.
The legislation offers a number of advantages and incentives to the different stakeholders of a startup: entrepreneurs, investors and the startup itself.
Entrepreneurs, startups, and investors in Tunisia are encouraged to go through a seamless online application process so as to obtain the ‘Startup Label’, and by extension, unlock the full benefits of the Startup Act universe. The latest application window opened on April 1, 2020.
In this episode of GFA-Attract, we discuss with Kennedy Mubita, Nairobi based Venture Capital Lead for Africa & Middle east at SC Ventures, the venture capital arm of Standard Chartered Bank. SC Ventures is a $100 million fund focused on FinTech investments.