Rwanda: Five Rwandans Who Secured Funding From Jack Ma’s Alibaba

Albert Munyabugingo, an innovative Rwandan and co-founder of the local tech solution delivery company VubaVuba, was announced recently as one of ten African entrepreneurs awarded a total of $1.5 million (over Rwf1.7 billion) in funding through Africa’s Business Heroes (ABH), an initiative supported by the Jack Ma Foundation and Alibaba Philanthropy.

Munyabugingo marks the fifth Rwandan entrepreneur to receive funding from Alibaba since the initiative, launched by Chinese billionaire Jack Ma in 2019, was initiated. Below The New Times compiles the other innovators who got funding from the Chinese company.

Francine Munyaneza

One of the four Rwandan entrepreneurs to secure funding from the Alibaba initiative is Francine Munyaneza. She founded MUNYAX ECO in 2013, a company dedicated to providing clean and affordable solar energy solutions while championing women-led innovations. Her work has brought energy access to thousands of individuals in East Africa, with women constituting 60 percent of the beneficiaries.

In 2022, Munyaneza was recognized in the Africa’s Business Heroes Competition, winning a substantial grant of US$100,000. She intends to allocate the funds primarily to cold chain technology, which includes solar cold rooms and freezers available through reasonable lease agreements. These innovations are expected to create new employment opportunities during construction and operation while reducing post-harvest losses for local farmers.

Yvette Ishimwe

Yvette Ishimwe, founder and CEO of IRIBA Water Group, is another recipient of funding from Alibaba philanthropy. The organization received a share of Jack Ma’s $1.5 million grant in 2021. IRIBA Water Group specializes in installing solar-powered pumps in remote valleys, catering to lower-income rural communities lacking access to safe drinking water and household use.

Ishimwe emphasizes the importance of scaling up this innovation across the country to benefit communities still lacking clean water access, aligning with the government’s goal of achieving 100 percent access. Her social enterprise has already provided clean water to approximately 100,000 people through water plants and water ATMs in streets and schools.

Christelle Kwizera

Christelle Kwizera, a social entrepreneur and founder of Access Water Rwanda, achieved recognition as an outstanding winner in the 2019 Africa’s Business Heroes (ABH) initiative, securing a $100,000 grant. Her enterprise focuses on treating spring water for supply to rural families and harvesting rainwater for urban communities.

Kwizera’s innovation extends to treating rainwater for drinking and potable purposes. To date, her efforts have positively impacted over 100,000 individuals, ensuring they have access to clean water daily. She aims to reach 30 million people in Africa over the next decade, with the goal of providing clean water to 30,000 individuals in three countries, including Rwanda, by the end of 2024.

Kevine Kagirimpundu

Kevine Kagirimpundu, the co-founder and CEO of UZURI K&Y, leads an African-inspired eco-friendly shoe brand that champions sustainability through its innovative use of 4R technology: recycling, reusing, recovering, and reducing car tires to create eco-friendly footwear.

Established in 2013 by Kevine Kagirimpundu and Ysolde Shimwe, the company addresses pressing environmental and unemployment challenges within their community. In 2019, Alibaba recognized Kagirimpundu as one of the top 10 business heroes driving change across Africa, awarding her a prize of $65,000.


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