The power of incubation centres: INES RUHENGERI helping students to become Entrepreneurs

By Elias Hakizimana.

One of the factors that slow down and sometimes stop youth innovations at early stage is lack of incubation centres to help them refine their projects.

Most of them fail while still in the progress and end up by giving it up.

According to Dr Fabien Hagenimana, the Vice-Chancellor of INES-Ruhengeri, business incubation centres at Universities are needed to facilitate students in their entrepreneurship journey.

He said that many students or graduates develop ideas that can be turned into businesses but end up failing due to lack of incubation.

The incubation centre, he said trains the students on how to turn ideas, prototypes into viable business projects and thereby create their own jobs. He added that linking them to stakeholders, financiers and banks could ease the implementation of the ideas.

“This is important because when students are not incubated they end up failing. For instance, out of 100 students only 10 can come up with real viable business yet 90 per cent of them have ideas that can be turned into viable projects. That is why we organize career every year where students showcase their potential on what they can do on the labour market,” he noted.

INES-Ruhengeri is one among the campuses that encourage students boost their innovations and a big number of their students have so far participated in various competitions.

A good example is of Gad Nishimwe, a Civil Engineering University student from INES Ruhengeri has developed an environmentally friendly robot dubbed “G-robot” that uses hydraulic pressure for lifting heavy loads, digging up and leveling land.

Nishimwe was among the contestants to the recent summer school on entrepreneurship and job creation for University student and was among the top three winners who got awards from a prototypes-design-competition that had brought together 30 students from Rwanda, Germany and Ghana.

Nishimwe with Dr Fabien Hagenimana, the Vice-Chancellor of INES-Ruhengeri, 

He explained that his robot can be used in various sectors including construction, mining sector, industries, transport and logistics, emergencies during car accidents among other areas that require lifting of heavy loads.

“I thought of developing this robot as an innovative way that eases work in engineering. Again my robot does not produce any emissions polluting the air as it uses water and solar energy. Another uniqueness with my robot is that it uses three systems all oriented to hydraulic pressure,”

“These are the mechanical system, manual system and an android system which uses mobile phones to control the robot’s operations. This means if one system fails you can choose to use another one,” he explained.

The robot relies on a solar system which powers the mechanical system used to operate the hydraulic functions.

With the manual system, one has to use the pulley that transfers its energy into the water to get hydraulic pressure

The android operating system is also solar-powered.

“In construction, engineers use different machines; some in lifting heavy things, another in leveling land and the other in excavating. But my Robot is affordable and efficient since it combines three expensive machines into one device using water,” he said.

While the one he designed combines functions of three machines at once which is cheaper, the young innovator said that one machine on the market using fuel that can lift between 10 tonnes and 15 tonnes costs between $100,000 and $500,000  which is quite expensive.

Nishimwe explained that the current robot prototype can lift up to ten Kilogrammes.

“When I have adequate financial capacity, I plan on developing one that can lift between 500 Kg and five Tonnes. That could cost me between Rwf30 million and Rwf90 million. To be developed in the industry we need financial support since I do not have financial capacity on my own,” he said.

Nishimwe’s robot will facilitate practice-oriented entrepreneurship education.

The entrepreneurship promotion summer school in which G-robot was developed was organized under African German Entrepreneurship Academy (AGEA) to facilitate students in their entrepreneurship journey and thereby contributes to the improved employability of graduates through a high level of practice orientation.

The theme was “Promoting practice-oriented entrepreneurship education at Universities”.

The joint initiative was developed by the International SEPT Program of Leipzig University in cooperation with its partners in Africa for entrepreneurship promotion activities especially business incubator establishment as well as vibrant business linkages.

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Elias Hakizimana

Elias Hakizimana, CEO&Founder of The Inspirer Ltd,( is a professional Rwandan Journalist with Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism and Communication, received from University of Rwanda’s College of Arts and Social Sciences (CASS) in 2014. He served various media houses in Rwanda including Rwanda Broadcasting Agency (RBA) in 2013 and became passionate with English Online and Print Media Publications where he exercised his talent as a Freelance News Reporter for The New Times, The Independent, The Rwanda Focus, Panorama and more before he became a Self-Entrepreneur as the CEO and Founder of The Inspirer Limited in early 2017.

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