Rwandan ed-tech startup BAG Innovation raises $150k seed round

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Rwandan ed-tech startup BAG Innovation, which uses gamification and artificial intelligence (AI) to revolutionise the future of career development, has raised a US$150,000 seed round to help it expand locally and internationally.

Founded in 2017, BAG Innovation is a virtual internship system that develops, tracks and matches students with the right market need upon graduation. 

“We realised that career centres within universities were not developing fast enough, and that the student environment was not conducive to challenging students to be proactive with their career choices and passions,” said Gabriel Ekman, managing director of BAG Innovation.

“The student needs to have individualised career guidance and be challenged on their own terms, and this must be directly related to an actual market need, now or in the future.”

That is what BAG Innovation provides, and the startup’s platform – only made available to the public this year – is now used by more than five per cent of all Rwandan students and over 100 Kigali-based companies looking for interns. It has now raised a US$150,000 seed funding round from an as-yet-unnamed local VC firm to help it grow its local user base and expand into new markets.

Ekman said BAG was targeting entering three new countries in the coming year – Tanzania, Ethiopia, and Uganda – and added that securing the investment in the first place had been a challenge.

“The main challenge was to find the right match with the right investor. Many were interested, but it was never the right fit for us, mostly because the investor did not understand the regional context or ed-tech in general,” he said. 

“There are more opportunities for Series A, B and C in the country than with seed funding. The challenge as a new startup is to find the person or firm that is willing to be the first – and most brave – investor.”

BAG has now managed to find that investor, and is readying its expansion plans. Ekman said it has a subscription model that allows companies to activate one or more of the tools on the BAG platform. 

“The most commonly paid service is “talent identification”, which helps organisations proactively source the best talent in the country, and the “crowdsourcing” tools, that help companies with data collection, market studies and the ability to access up to 600 certified virtual interns,” he said.

“However, we are offering freemium subscriptions to both companies and students in our new expansion model, and working with new revenue systems by monetising the data from the two user sides. We are aiming at becoming the largest centralised forum of University students in East Africa by 2021.”

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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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