Rwanda will soon join a select group of African countries that have implemented a startup Act supporting businesses and entrepreneurship in the country.
For a country of only 12 million, Rwanda’s tech sector is witnessing steady growth. President Paul Kagame’s government has taken a proactive role in promoting the growth of startups. Notable Rwandan champions are the blood delivery drone transport to broadband infrastructure development, you name it.
In the 2016 Global Information Technology Report published by the World Economic Forum, the West African country ranked first in its promotion of ICT.
The government teamed up with Innovation for Policy Foundation (i4Policy) to come up with a nation-wide Startup Act that aims to reform the current business environment while supporting the growth of infrastructure, while branding the country as a hub for regional investment.
i4Policy has had time to benchmark in the DRC, Tunisia, and Cameroon – countries that have passed their own startup Acts. Rwanda’s Ministry of ICT and Innovation recently held a Policy Hackathon.
Why a Startup Act?
Startup Acts are a legal framework that requires participation from all industry stakeholders within the entrepreneurial cycle. In terms of benefits, the legislation incentives all the parties involved in the life cycle of a startup from investors, entrepreneurs, and the startup itself.
For instance, In Tunisia’s Startup Act, one can take a year off their job to pursue a startup venture, meanwhile, they still receive payment from their job. This mitigates the risk of losing one’s source of livelihood if the startup fails. The startup co-founders are also eligible for a startup grant that helps them cover their living expenses. Other incentives cover licensing, liquidation, taxes, you name it.
In Senegal, the Act provides support and governance frameworks including legal frameworks. Part of the investment is a resource center dedicated to startups, among other incentives.
Italy was the first country internationally to pass a startup law in 2012. Ever since several other countries shave followed suit to spur the development of innovation. South Africa is currently having its multi-sectoral debate as to whether they should adopt their own Startup Act.