Diaspora m-commerce app wins Rwandan Seedstars World leg

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MERGIMS, a mobile application that connects Rwandans in the diaspora with merchants in their own countries so they can purchase items for relatives back home, was last night named the winner of the latest Seedstars World competition in Africa.

MERGIMS will now head to Switzerland in February next year to compete for up to US$500,000 in equity investment at the global final after emerging the winner out of ten startups pitching in Kigali at the kLab.

“Winning this ticket to Geneva for us is the recognition of six months hard work from the MERGIMS team. We are definitely working on something that will change the world and today we’ve got another confirmation of that fact,” said founder and chief executive officer (CEO) Louis-Antoine Muhire.

Bus ticket purchasing solution Tega came second, with SafeMotos, which makes public transportation by Mototaxis safer and more reliable, grabbed third spot.

The other pitching startups were online marketplaces Yubeyi and Asuqu; educational platform Practice 4ne, educational cartoon-making startup Cartoon Home Network, medical consultation platform mTiba, international airtime and electricity top-up service Istayconnected, and online grocery delivery service Grocewheels.

Paul Soko, investment manager of local incubator think and a member of the jury, said the quality of participants in the Rwandan competition was very high.

“I think this is an excellent opportunity for anyone who wants to invest in the next big thing, not just in Rwanda, but in Africa as a whole. Seedstars World is opening up opportunities for Africans to invest in the next technological breakthroughs from the continent. We underestimate the opportunity at our own peril,” he said.

Seedstars World local ambassador Douglas Ogeto, managing partner at The Founders Hive, said Rwandan startups and entrepreneurs had shown great maturity and growth in their presentations and solutions.

“With the government support in infrastructure, growth and innovation is inevitable in the near future. Excited to be a player in the growth of the ecosystem,” he said.

This year’s edition of Seedstars World sees the competition expanded to 50 countries – up from 36 in 2014 – with 12 African cities hosting legs of the competition.  

African events have already taken place in Mozambique, South Africa, Nigeria, Ghana and Ivory Coast; and the competition now moves on to Uganda on September 11.

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Passionate about the vibrant tech startups scene in Africa, Tom can usually be found sniffing out the continent's most exciting new companies and entrepreneurs, funding rounds and any other developments within the growing ecosystem.

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