The African Institute for Mathematical Sciences- Next Einstein Initiative (AIMS-NEI) in partnership with MasterCard Foundation launched the Mastercard Foundation Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship Fund (MCF- SIEF), an initiative that seeks to influence AIMS scholars and alumni to be innovative.
The aim of the MCF-SIEF is to bridge the gap between scholars’ ideas and the lack of funding for the implementation of the ideas. Many scholars experience challenges accessing funds to implement their ideas despite their high levels of ideation and creativity.
The MCF–SIEF aims to support young change makers to seed, kick-start and augment promising social ventures and community projects that create economic opportunities for themselves and for others.
“Our scholars might have great ideas to enable them make great contributions but the realities in the business world are harsh and unwelcoming especially when it comes to start-up capital. We applaud MasterCard Foundation for filling this gap,” said Francis Mphaka, AIMS Director of Program Delivery.
The MCF-SIEF is a joint program that includes the following partner organizations: AIMS, MasterCard Foundation, International Development Research Centre (IDRC), Big Data for Development (BD4D), and Impact Hub Kigali.
An MCF representative, Cyril Obua said that MasterCard is happy about the partnership and highlighted that the balance between genders amongst the trainees is a progressive indicator.
The keynote speaker at the launch, Therese Sekamana, Founder and CEO of LED Solutions & Green Energy Rwanda urged AIMS scholars and alumni to tap into their creative abilities in order to provide solutions to society’s longstanding challenges.
“My dream for you today is that no one shall ever be jobless because their position was given to a foreign expert. You need to work hard, claim back what is yours and prove us wrong for constantly believing in foreign expertise more than we believe in you,” she said.
“Most importantly make sure you keep the pace because Africa needs to keep growing and it is your responsibility to make it happen.’
She added that the studies that the scholars are undertaking in mathematics and sciences are critical to many industries in Africa. She also said that the evolution of technology is the key to growing business and providing solutions to social problems.
As part of the MCF-SIEF, AIMS scholars and alumni will undergo training on design thinking to better prepare them with knowledge and skills to innovate and generate creative solutions to social challenges.
By the end of the six-week program, participants will be expected to solve problems with a creative approach, use the canvas business model to think through a viable business model and to pitch their solutions using storytelling techniques and pitch deck guidelines, among other things.
Upon completion of the six-week training session, participants will make a pitch to a jury. Winners will receive seed grants of up to $10,000, mentorship support and an opportunity to collaborate with other scholars and alumni.