Rwanda’s Imagine We promotes literacy through tech

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Rwandan startup Imagine We is aiming to promote literacy through reading and creative writing culture via its online e-book platform.

Formed in 2015, Imagine We publishes e-books by Rwandan and African authors with compelling stories that showcase the diversity of the continent.

Currently the only tech aspect of the platform is the sale of e-books, but the startup’s aim is to build a whole digital library, which will be available on a subscription basis.

“Rwandan doesn’t have a reading culture, in part due to the history of oral storytelling. The market lacks storybooks that reflect the identity, culture and fullness of the Rwandan and African experience,” Imagine We public relations lead Shakila Kamatali told Disrupt Africa.

“The established publishing houses in Rwanda stick to the local language Kinyarwanda, and have yet to catch up with digital books. Many have also failed to capture a variety of stories and have a particular niche.”

Imagine We is aiming to fill this gap, having received some grant funding. In the past year it has published four authors and sold more than 2,000 books. It also recently opened a co-working space to support other young startups.

“Considering the reading culture in Rwanda, we’ve had to carry out different campaigns and events to sensitise people on the value of reading. With 19 outlets for our publications within Rwanda and a sale of over 2,000 books, it has been positive,” Kamatali said.

“Our expansion plans include having e-book versions for our publications available for sale online as well as a model being developed for a subscription basis. We are cultivating partners in East Africa to create a franchise for our most successful book – The ABC’s of Rwanda – to have further reach on the continent and globally.”

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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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