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What you should know about Umutoniwabo’s project that won 50 million Frw in ‘HangaPitchFest

Imagine you wake up one fortunate morning and find a message on your phone telling you that you have received 50 million Frw. No matter how old you are, or what level you are at, whether poor or rich, you are thrilled.

That message is even more thrilling if you are a young person if the money you won came from the seeds of your project as you would be starting to reap the fruits of what you have invested for a long time.

This is the joy that Umutoniwabo Cynthia is experiencing, as after listening to various advice given to the youth, she submitted her application to Hanga Pitchfest 2023, thinking of a project that solves some of the problems that the world faces. This earned her the grand prize.

Hanga Pitchfest is a competition that brings together young entrepreneurs who have projects that provide solutions in sectors such as education, technology, economy, agriculture, and others where the first one wins 50 million Frw.

The competition is organized by the Ministry of ICT and Innovation in partnership with the Rwanda Development Board, RDB, the United Nations Development Program, UNDP, and others.

This is the third time this competition has taken place, this year it was attended by more than 300 people, including university students and young entrepreneurs who have technology projects that provide confidence.

The five entrepreneurs who reached the final stage were selected from among those who outperformed the others, receiving 50 million Frw, the second one receiving 20 million Frw, the third one 15 million Frw, the fourth and fifth one each receiving 12.5 million Frw.

The 50 million Frw was won by Loopa Ltd, founded by Umutoniwabo Cynthia, which has the technology to transform food waste into organic fertilizer.

Loopa Ltd produces fertilizer from earthworms, taking the waste that other people throw away and polluting the land.

Agriculture in Rwanda is the special sector for those who work in it, as 70% of Rwandans who have reached working age have jobs in agriculture and livestock, but most of the time you find that many of them do it for survival, rather than for business.

This means that every year it brings in 30% of the country’s gross domestic product, which shows that if it is done professionally, it will move from survival to meeting the market of Rwanda and beyond, this figure will undoubtedly rise.

When Umutoniwabo explained her project to the advisory panel at Hanga PitchFest, she showed that it was related to that figure, she wondered why hunger continued to bite, she showed that the people she worked with were looking for a solution to this problem, agriculture being an investment for Rwandans.

She said that the problems that Rwanda faces include the land being eroded by erosion due to its topography, which also leads to the use of too much chemical fertilizer by farmers, which not only depletes the land but also kills small organisms that play a role in agriculture.

She said, “To make it clear, every year Rwanda sends chemical fertilizer worth 70,000 tons. In a recent meeting we had with the Minister of Agriculture and Livestock, Dr Musafiri Ildephonse, he showed that in the next three years, Rwanda will spend $190 million on that fertilizer alone.”

Umutoniwabo said that at Loopa Ltd they want to tackle that problem by taking the waste from food and turning it into organic fertilizer, from earthworms.

This helps the land to increase its yield, as this fertilizer is rich and does not harm the environment compared to the fertilizer that Rwanda sends and pollutes.

She showed that in addition to these yields, this gives the land a chance to recover, the farmer does not need another fertilizer from outside.

They work with the market of Nyamata in Bugesera District, they collect all the waste and first sort it out, then take it from the food, they take it to their factory which is near that market.

After that waste is processed and mixed with earthworms, those worms and their droppings produce the usual fertilizer that comes from what they ate, as well as the one from the earthworms.

Straight out of Twitter