30th March 2021 , Kigali Rwanda Environmental Management Authority (REMA) and the Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI), co-organised the 4th business to business (B2B) virtual webinar on “Innovation and Sustainability: Identifying synergies between Rwanda and Italy”. Rwanda’s ecosystem has attracted many evolving startup ,with several local entrepreneurs developing sustainable and impactful products and services that address the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Furthermore these ventures are tackling some of Rwanda’s challenges, while others are creating global solutions said Claudia Beretta, moderator of the webinars from GGGI.
The 4th webinar is an initiative being implemented under the private sector engagement project, framed by the bilateral cooperation between the former Italian Ministry of the Environment, Land and Sea (IMELS) now known as (the Italian Ministry of the Ecological Transition ) and the Rwanda Ministry of the Environment (MoE) that was signed in 2016. The webinars targeted all major stakeholders with key role in the green growth and sustainable development operating in different sectors, such as agri-business, renewable energy, eco-tourism, textile and circular economy. This webinar was followed by more than 150 participants from both countries allowing them obtain and exchange information on business opportunities, possible partnerships , financial resources and call for tenders. Following the previous three B2B webinars , more than 20 B2B bilateral meetings were organized by GGGI and various partnerships are under discussion.
The 4th B2B virtual webinar was an opportunity for Rwanda local green entrepreneurs to present their business activities, while gaining insights on opportunities offered by Italian and International Institutions. Participants from Rwanda included the Embassy of Rwanda in Italy (based in Paris) ,MoE, MINAGRI, MINECOFIN, MININFRA, MINICOM, MINICT, RISA, CPCIC, PSF, NAEB, RDB, FONERWA, NIRDA ,EU, ENABEL, GIZ ,Locally based entrepreneurs ,European Business Chamber Rwanda (EBCR) and the media. Participants from Italy included the Embassy of Italy to Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi (based in Kampala) ,The Italian Trade Agency ( ITA-ICE) ,Private sector federations ,Italian entrepreneurs ,Financial Institutions ,Universities and Research Institutes ,Media.Several local green entrepreneurs will had the opportunity to present their activities, gaining knowledge and information on opportunities offered by Italian and International Institutions. The webinar has very specific expected outcomes that included:
• to launch concrete Joint ventures and partnerships ;
• facilitating contacts and matchmaking between entrepreneurs established ;
• Increased awareness on financial opportunities for local entrepreneurs and start-up and
• Increased awareness on market opportunities in Rwanda for Italian stakeholders.
In his welcoming remarks DDG of REMA Mr Faustin Munyazikwiye expressed “his appreciation for all the participants who continue to engage and to be apart of these webinars to discuss and exchange ideas on innovation. He mentioned how critical such discussions are as many countries are struggling with economic recovery due to COVID-19 pandemic. He added that countries need to focus on sustainability moving forward as they continue prepare for green recovery plans. He reminded participants that these webinars are organized in the framework of a five-year memorandum of understanding signed in 2016 between the formerly known Italian Ministry of Environment, Land and Sea and Rwandan Ministry of Environment to coordinate efforts to combat global climate change and address its adverse effects to support mechanisms to reduce climate change vulnerability and stimulate the transition towards a sustainable low carbon economy. Furthermore in May 2020 Rwanda had submitted to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change its enhanced climate action plan known as Nationally Determined Contribution. This ambitious climate action plan features 38% reduction of greenhouse gases emissions compared to business as usual by 2030. the implementation of Rwanda’s NDC will require the effort of everyone and hence why private sector is critical in taking part as the main driver of the economy.
The engagement of Rwanda in creating favorable conditions to attract green foreign investments and supporting local industries and SME’s through incentives for the adoption of environmentally sound technologies and green clean production and consumption models of development. This is crucial to foster sustainable economic growth and open the path to the international investors delivering at the same time on the commitments under NDC and Paris Agreement in Rwanda there are already many opportunities for innovation in green investment and the implementation of enhanced NDC will also create new ones. He thanked IMELS and GGGI for their commitment in promoting innovative green growth activities and knowledge sharing and enhanced private sector engagement in Rwanda ,and encouraged all business men and women following these webinars in both countries to make use of this opportunity and network to explore where they can set up joint venture or partnerships.”
His Excellency the Ambassador of Italy to Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi Mr Massimiliano Mazzanti couldn’t join the webinar but gave his opening remarks through a video. He welcome the program of cooperation between Italy and Rwanda in the field of climate change and in particular the support given to Italian and Rwandan entrepreneurs to encourage common initiatives. He recalled the presence of the Italian Trade Agency in Rwanda and invited participants to refer to it for any support. He encouraged both governments to speed up the process to renew the MoU between the Italian Ministry of the Ecological Transition and the Rwandan Ministry of the Environment, as well as the agreement between MiTE and GGGI.
Business environment is favourable and increasing interest between Italy and Rwanda even during the pandemic. He added that such agreements and MOU’s allow to have a legal framework within where business companies can operate and find possible partnerships. We appreciate the vital role that GGGI is playing in Rwanda by creating awareness , linkining up different stakeholders and business entrepreneurs and improving their skills development that are targeted to key sectors in Rwandas economy, and this can be scaled up to the rest of Africa. The City if Kigali is fast becoming similar to a Swiss-European city as has become so efficient in iterms of its ecosystem and landscape.”
The young Rwandan innovators presented their activities in different areas of intervention, such as agriculture, waste management, textile, manufacture included Thierry MUDITI, Eco-entrepreneur – Innate House Ltd; Mamy Ingabire, Managing Director – Charis UAS; UWAYEZU Janvier Co-Founder and Deputy Managing Director of Rwanda Biosolutions Ltd; Thierry Shema, Founder of Crop Tech Ltd; Sivan Breemhaar, Founder and CEO of Afriek; Eva Piece, Project Manager, Solektra Rwanda/Green Fighters. Representatives from Italy included Gabriele Ferrieri: President of the Italian Association Young Innovators; Theresa Lindo, Head of Institutional Relations – TALISMAN Investments Funds (Italy); Fulvio Bersanetti – Program Officer, Impact innovation Department, Fondazione Compagnia di San Paolo; Luis Navarro, Head of Operations at the EU Delegation in Rwanda; Michelle DeFreese GGGI, Senior Green Growth.
Italy presented opportunities to the participants such as financing opportunities for start-ups in the African continent that will be made available from Talisman Investment Fund and a call for proposal for Innovators in the sector of food and agriculture was introduced by Cariplo Foundation that will be open from May 2021.
Another speaker Gabriele Ferrieri President of ANGI – National Association of Young Innovators also stated that “The key role in green growth and sustainable development in sectors such as agri-food, smart mobility, renewable energies, ecotourism, textiles and the circular economy are the basis of a renewed programme should aim at an ecological and digital transition and will allow Italy, also pursuing the objectives of the UN 2030 agenda, to carry out projects and investments in the name of sustainability. Some of these initiatives see Rwanda leading the way and will open the path to new collaborations with Italy and Europe, while others are creating solutions that could have a global application, fully following the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal (UN). An interesting presentation was also made by Louis Navarro, Head of Operations at the EU Delegation, who introduced the newly created Innovation Hubs program established in four secondary cities to Increase digital-based employment opportunities.
Finally Michelle DeFreese, Senior officer at GGGI-Rwanda gave a brief overview of GGGI’s Green-preneurs program, a free 12-week virtual incubator supporting young people to develop social enterprise solutions that address sustainability and climate change issues in their community.
In his closing remarks the GGGI Rwanda Country Representative Mr Okechukwu Daniel Ogbonnaya applauded Rwanda and Italy for their continuous engagements , he also thanked the government partners REMA and of course the Italian partners. He emphasized the importance of such dialogues when that when discussing green growth and climate resilience with innovation being at the core as they contribute to economic growth , this platform continues to be a practical way to share knowledge , exchange ideas and share information that we will yield results and concrete partnerships between both Rwanda and Italy.
To watch the full webinar , click on youtube link: (4) Innovation and Sustainability. Identifying synergies between Rwanda and Italy – YouTube