[Startup Interview] Benjamin Manirafasha, CEO, Iris Hub, Rwanda
Tell us about Iris Hub and your role in it?
Iris Hub started its operations as a software, network solutions and event management company in January 2016. It has since expanded to an incubation and innovation center focusing on youth involvement, creativity and job creation. I am the founder and CEO of Iris Hub, Software, Website and Application, UI Developer.
Where is it located?
Iris Hub is located in Kicukiro- Kigali-Rwanda.
How is it funded
Iris Hub is self funded company. The initial investement is our team, skills and knowledge to develop a new sustainable solution and create opportunities on our own. We sell our skills and creativity from IT services, solutions and events management to our clients.
Who forms your clientele base?
Our clients span from corporates, people looking for IT services, event management and startups especially youth who want to start their own business.
How has Iris Hub assisted in addressing unemployment in Rwanda?
As i mentioned before we are an an incubation and innovation center focusing on youth involvement, Creativity and Job creation. We are members of AfriLabs and Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN-Youth).
Iris Hub itself was born after a thorough research on the levels and causes of unemployment in Rwanda which stood 13.2% overall and 18% for graduates. Rwanda is facing an escalating problem of high unemployment and dissatisfaction from educated youth to find job opportunities.
Lack of a working and sustainable student-business relationship is creating a major limitation for the students to get meaningful employment, even after undergoing the mandatory internship. At Iris Hub, we believe that the Rwandan ecosystem is lacking an effective platform where the university students can connect to potential employers and be a part of building the future of Rwanda....Before they graduate!
What gives your company the competitive edge?
We are designed to create innovations, educate, inspire and connect entrepreneurs through different activities and also providing the youth and women with the right mentorship to their business ideas from our coaches and mentors. We also run both workshops and speeches events, boot camps, and hackathons to provide training, networking opportunities and exhibitions.
How has the market responded to your information tecnology services?
For a long time people didn’t understand the use of the techonogy in business, but so far clients from different companies either locally or internatinally are increasingly appreciating the use of techonology to bolster their operations with technology also playing a pivotal role in a country’s economic development.
The response has been an encouraging one. A lot of people have come to know, trust and believe in our service, its effeciency, timeliness and general performance.
We have a portfolio of startup companies we are supporting and training to become like us. Three is still work to be done but we are happy of the journey so far.
What do you consider as the biggest threat to your business?
Our biggest threat in our business is hub sustainability, to contribute to our daily budgets because we do not depend on any source of external support.
As the founder and CEO of Iris Hub, where are you steering the company this year?
From where we were up to now, i can say that we have made great strides.This year, our focus is on building company sustainability, and strong partnerships with national and international companies keen on ending unemployment among the youth.
What does your company need to grow and prosper?
Normally Hubs need many things to grow so that we can playa key role in the enterpreurneurship ecosystem. We need some investment to take care of our key operational costs including internet, equipment, programs, staff and mostly rent which is the most expensive.
What is the latest news from your company?
For the last few years, we have been fine tuning the services that we offer. The priority for 2019 is to expand further and grow the number of users both nationally and internationaly. We intend to achieve this through increasing our services, partnership and building on the sustainability of our business. We are also looking at collaborating with more businesses that would require our services regurlarly such as high learning insistutions, accerelators and NGOs.
Who should contact you and why?
Enterpreneurs, company owners, governments, NGOs but mostly those who want to start their companies and investors keen on investing in Rwandan startups.
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