Developing incentive-based health and wellness programs to help people adopt healthy behavior proved to be a winning formula for young innovator Peace Ndoli, founder of Lifesten health, who emerged as the overall winner of this year’s Hanga Pitchfest.
Ndoli was among the five finalists who made their last pitches before a jury of five judges in a rather competitive atmosphere at the BK Arena, on Saturday, December 10.
The finale attracted several government officials, investors, academia as well as fellow entrepreneurs.
Ndoli, whose pitch was described as impressive, walked away with a $50,000 cash prize, Rwf5 million injection into her EjoHeza savings account among other benefits.
EjoHeza is a pension scheme intended to ensure the welfare especially of workers in the informal sector once they retire as a result of age, health conditions, or permanent disabilities resulting from occupational hazards.
“Amazing is not enough to describe this. I never thought that I would emerge the best, but I can say that I was hopeful, and did what I could do by giving it 100 percent,” an elated Ndoli told The New Times in an exclusive interview.
“The journey has of course not been easy for us all, but for me in particular, it is easy because every time when I want to fall back, I see the very challenges in our communities that I can help address,” she added.
The annual challenge aims to provide a platform to showcase tech-entrepreneurs and creative talent from all over the country.
“I am building a platform that helps people manage risk factors associated with Non-communicable diseases. So we don’t have to keep worrying about diabetes, hypertension and the likes.”
According to her, there are actions that can be done to prevent society from getting such diseases.
“That is where we come in from, we reward people for being healthy and give them rewards for every step they take.”
Claiming “our” spot
Emerging as the overall winner, a title previously held by a fellow lady, Diane Cyuzuzo of Afriduino, is worth noting but not “celebrating”.
“I believe there is nothing new, we have always been able to do this, it is just that the government has backed us, and now we are able to showcase the opportunities and the capabilities we had all along.”
“It is amazing that we can now show what we can do for our communities, at the same time inspiring other young ladies to take up the task. It is possible, if it has happened twice, we can claim our spot in the next,” she added.
The second best award was given to Paying tone, a digital credit platform that allows consumers to purchase goods and services on credit to help them keep up with the basic standard of living, while the third went to School Nest, an integrated digital school management system that offers a range of services designed to automate and improve efficiency and effectiveness in schools.
In fourth place was Mulika Farms, an initiative that empowers farmers by connecting them directly to larger markets, cutting down the supply chain in a bid to increase the value of the farmers’ crops, with Huuza Quest, an initiative that seeks to connect and showcase African culture through fun and interactive games, emerging as the fifth best solution.
This year’s edition also saw several other accolades introduced in the challenge with Vision Bot being recognized with the Community Impact Award by the Rwanda Social Security Board (RSSB).
Vision Bot, a local firm, created a digital walking stick which detects obstacles up to 1m distance using both sound and vibration to enable more freedom and dependence to visually impaired people.
MTN MoMo was awarded the Corporate innovation award, while the Rwanda National Police scooped the public innovation award.
Potential is unimaginable
Speaking during the ceremony, Minister of ICT and Innovation Paula Ingabire, pointed out that the finale is just a sneak view into the kind of potential and talent in Rwanda.
“And our call, together with the stakeholders, is to continue supporting and nurturing these young startups to reach the next level.”
Minister Ingabire also shared a message by President Paul Kagame to the winners.
“This journey you have started is the way of life for you now to imagine, to think of new ways that are needed to shape society in a globalized world.”
“Education builds the best for you and the government creates the environment that supports you, but action is for you and your own to thrive on. Everyone of you has the possibility and the potential to succeed to grow beyond what anyone has ever imagined.”
President Kagame graced last year’s inaugural edition of the Hanga Pitchfest.
Ingabire shared similar sentiments with RDB Chairman Itzhak Fisher.
“The purpose of this event is to create an ecosystem for Rwanda as the start up nation of Africa. By cultivating a start up mentality and helping entrepreneurs, Rwanda will become innovative in many areas like health, IT, retail and food.”