AEC was founded in 2012, and Rwanda has been our initial launch location. AEC’s programs in Rwanda now support over 100 entrepreneurs annually to grow their businesses in a wide range of industries.
While many organizations in Africa support economic development, most focus on the early stages of new business creation or provide short-term services. These offerings generate an abundance of ideas, but too often fail to generate real enterprises that create meaningful numbers of jobs.
Instead of stimulating new business development, AEC’s programs provide on-going support to existing entrepreneurs to enter new markets, strengthen their operations, and ultimately grow their businesses.
The African Entrepreneur Collective believes in a simple concept: In order to create more jobs in Africa, we find the people who are already creating jobs, and help them do it better.
To accomplish this work, AEC’s accelerators and incubators are tailored for a range of entrepreneurs: Inkomoko (our signature business development program), African Innovation Prize (for students), AEC Rwanda Trustee (low-cost loan funding), THINK (the Tigo-backed tech incubator), and SPRING (an East African accelerator focused on innovations for girls).
Focus on existing entrepreneurs
Entrepreneurs who have already demonstrated viability at a small scale are most likely to succeed in making the leap to the next level where they can employ others. We support entrepreneurs to expand their small businesses and transform their communities.
Develop entrepreneur capacity
The skills it takes to start a business aren’t always the skills it takes to grow a business.
We provide hands-on mentoring, strategic consulting, and practical training to equip entrepreneurs with the skills needed for growth.
Remove barriers to growth
As businesses grow to scale, entrepreneurs face additional challenges of management, access to expensive capital, and navigating new regulations. We offer low cost capital and additional supports to empower our entrepreneurs to bridge the "pioneer gap."
AEC's flagship accelerator, Inkomoko, identifies young Rwandan entrepreneurs with existing enterprises who seek to grow their businesses, but lack the skills and financial resources to do so. Inkomoko offers a suite of services to accelerate small business growth and fill a demonstrated need.
Entrepreneurs receive a business development package that includes the following services:
As the AEC Tanzanian affiliate, the Anza Accelerator provides business development support for social entrepreneurs to help social businesses scale up, have greater impact, and impact the lives of low-income Tanzanians. Launched in January 2016, Anza Accelerator is AEC’s first expansion site. We are now growing from one location at the base of Mt. Kilimanjaro, to two more micro-sites that will serve 70 entrepreneurs: look for us in Arusha and Dar by the end of 2017.
AEC Rwanda Trustee provides direct financing at a lower rate than local banks with favorable repayment terms. As a Kiva partner, this financing is both flexible and affordable capital, and is catalytic for young entrepreneurs who would otherwise see their business stymied. We’ve been able to correlate our investment with significant increase in job creation and revenue in the 6-month period post investment.
To de-risk our investments, all AEC Rwanda Trustee clients are all part of AEC’s accelerator, which assists entrepreneurs with their business challenges. Once these challenges are addressed and clients meet the appropriate loan requirements, AEC Rwanda Trustee can choose to provide financing to remove barriers to growth.
African Innovation Prize inspires student innovation and entrepreneurship in Rwanda and Burundi, unleashing entrepreneurial potential in students by providing them with the knowledge and seed funding to establish successful enterprises.
AIP runs a three-phase program, encouraging students to DREAM, DESIGN, and DEDICATE themselves to their business ideas. The program consists of training, mentoring, and a two-part business plan competition that helps students turn their initial idea into reality.
AIP competition winners work closely with Inkomoko, providing them with business development services.
Spring is an innovative East African accelerator program that supports businesses whose products and services transform the lives of adolescent girls.
Spring is a 5-year program that provides finance, expert mentors, and technical assistance to selected businesses. It is funded by UK’s Department of International Development (DFID), the Nike Foundation, and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).
AEC provides strategic consulting and advising to the Rwandan enterprises who are part of this competitive accelerator.
After researching the health benefits of cayenne pepper for several years, Christine, started her own cayenne pepper production company, CF-Premium.
Southern Rwanda has the ideal climate and soil for growing hot peppers. Christine works with five farmers on 11 hectors of land, providing them with soft capital, organic fertilizer and free seeds to grow their crops.
Jean Bosco and his partner founded HPS&B because they saw the need to expand the rice sector in Rwanda to benefit local farmers and consumers.
Jean Bosco has accessed three cycles of financing from AEC, along with intensive training to help his company thrive.
Blandine has created Rwanda’s only magazine targeting pregnant women and mothers, and one of the only magazines specifically for women and girls in the local language of Kinyarwanda.
Blandine was recently nominated for the Rwandan Youth and Business Excellence Awards for her work.