Building a thriving community of founders in Kigali
Rwandan founders are coming together to form a strong and supportive community that is helping to drive innovation and economic growth.
The first edition attracted 120+ people
Kigali Founders Happy Hour is a monthly meetup of founders in Kigali. The goal of the meetup is to bring together founders to share their experiences, connect with other founders, and have some fun.
The event happens every last Thursday of the month at a local restaurant. Founders get a discount on drinks and food.
A bit of background
In 2021, Shikama of Food Bundles and I met on a trip to West Africa, we found ourselves talking about the same thing, as early-stage founders, there are many challenges, ideas, concepts, and things that go on in our minds. It's a constant hustle to try to keep up with the rapidly changing landscape of the tech industry. And it can be lonely. We often wonder whether there are others like us in Kigali that we can connect. Are people going through the same struggles as we are? Where do we go to connect with other founders, how we can build a community of tech founders in Kigali and where are the founders building cool things hanging? Certainly not in our circles, that’s for sure. We both had the same idea but approached it from different angles. He was coming at it from an event organizing perspective and I was coming at it from a content and communications perspective (writing blogs, building a directory, and consulting services). But we quickly realized that we could combine our efforts and make something really special. I had a Twitter account set up for Startups in Rwanda but didn't have much content to post there, I had a Slack channel that was barely active. Something was missing to make this community more alive.
That's when the idea for the Kigali Founders Happy Hour came about. Initially, the idea was to arrange an exclusive event for a selected group of founders where we would meet and talk about partnerships and see what cool things we can do together but we quickly realized that it's not exclusive and there are many other people who we can learn from. That's when we decided to make it a monthly event where founders in Kigali can come together, have a couple of drinks, relax and most importantly connect. Every ecosystem has it why not Kigali?
Shikama (right), Shabani (in the middle) chatting with one of the event guests
We were hanging out at Old Gold Club (OGC) and chatting with the manager. We told her about the concept and she was up for it. The place was quite new and they wanted to have some buzz around the spot and this felt like the right opportunity for it, we managed to negotiate a discount on drinks to attract more people but I think people were more attracted to the concept that the actual discount. Shabani of Fundle, helped a lot with the design of flyers and the marketing started, we leveraged our networks and the groups that we are a part of to spread the word about the event and now it was time to sit back and wait for the date to reach.
What’s the objective
The objective of the event is to bring together founders from different startups and connect them with each other. The idea is to create a space where founders can relax, have some drinks, and share their experiences with other founders. The meetup is informal and relaxed, and there is no pressure to pitch your business or product. Just come and enjoy some good conversation and company!
Folks behind the scenes
Stats and figures
The first edition took place in June and was a resounding success. We had over 120 attendees, most of whom were startups, but some investors did come as well, and the talks were lively. Business cards were handed out. It appeared that everyone enjoyed themselves immensely.
We are excited about this initiative and we hope that through this we can create a strong network of founders in Kigali who can help each other grow and scale their businesses. “Let's do more of these,” we kept hearing after the first edition. “I'm disappointed I didn't know about it; I'll be sure to come the next time,” they said.
You spoke. We heard you. The second edition is happening on Thursday 28th July 2022 and we’re looking forward to it. We’re hoping to double the number of attendees to 200+ this time.
Yussouf Ntwali (left), Cares Manzi, of Impact Hub Kigali (in the middle), and Sangwa Rwabuhihi, former director of Westerwelle Startup Haus (right)
The Kigali Founders Happy Hour has been a great success so far, but we want to make it even better. We're currently working on a few things:
Creating a website for the event where people can sign up and get more information
Launching a newsletter to keep people updated on the latest news and upcoming events.
Planning some special events and workshops for the community.
We're always open to new ideas, so if you have any suggestions, please don't hesitate to get in touch!
In the meantime, if you're a founder in Kigali and you're not part of our community yet, make sure to join us for the second edition by registering here and learn more about what we do and following us on Twitter (@StartupsRwanda).
Looking forward to seeing you all at the next edition of the Kigali Founders Happy Hour. A shoutout to OGC for hosting us again!
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