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(EoI)-Empowering Tech Start-ups to Rollout & Scale Digital Solutions in Rwanda

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EXPRESSION of INTEREST (EoI) Empowering Tech Start-ups to Rollout & Scale Digital Solutions in Rwanda

 Contract identification number: 83386393


The Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH is a federally owned international cooperation enterprise for sustainable development with worldwide operations. GIZ has worked in Rwanda for over 30 years. The primary objectives between the Government of Rwanda and the Federal Republic of Germany are poverty reduction and promotion of sustainable development. To achieve these objectives, GIZ Rwanda is active in the sectors of Decentralization and Good Governance, Economic Development and Employment Promotion, Energy and ICT (Information and Communications Technology).


1.    Background information and brief description of the project
1.1     Digital Entrepreneurship


Digital entrepreneurship is the driver of digital change in Africa. Entrepreneurs have the potential to modernise the economies and societies of their countries, to find innovative solutions to development problems, and to create new perspectives and employment opportunities. Open Innovation approaches support start-ups to tap into a wide range of opportunities for learning and growth.

Nevertheless, many young technology start-ups from Sub-Saharan Africa are still unable to make the leap to international market maturity. There is a lack of access to capital, customers, suitable personnel, and digital infrastructure. To be successful, entrepreneurs need a functioning "entrepreneurial ecosystem" consisting of reference customers, investors, funding agencies and training partners. However, many ecosystems are fragmentary, and tech start-ups lack important contacts, access to (additional) financing and opportunities for further development.

1.2  Make-IT in Africa

GIZ implements the project Make-IT in Africa on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) in Ghana and Rwanda. It is part of the BMZ initiative "Digital Africa" and aims to improve the entrepreneurial ecosystems in Africa’s the digital economy.

Therefore, Make-IT systemically supports the tech entrepreneurship ecosystem on three levels:


i.  Micro level – start-ups: the goal is to align the business models of start-ups with market conditions and to make them ready for the future by strengthening the specialised and market-oriented capacities and competences within the start-ups. 

ii.  Meso level – Intermediaries: Make-IT in Africa supports intermediaries in providing start-ups and other ecosystem actors a high-quality service that is financially sustainable and independent of donor funding. This is done by promoting the development of networks (e.g., investor networks) and to link national actors with pan-African counterparts.

iii. Macro level – Political framework conditions: the aim is to support the development of methods and instrument


1.3. Digital Solutions for Sustainable Development (DSSD)

On behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, implemented by GIZ, the “Digital Solutions for Sustainable Development (DSSD)” project advises Rwandan institutions on the implementation of the Smart Rwanda Master Plan (2016-2020) and its priority projects. By building on digital skills in the sector ministries as well as developing and implementing ICT sector strategies (for the implementation of the Smart Rwanda Master Plan), the project contributes to the establishment of digital transformation in other sectors.

1.4. The Open Innovation Programme

The Open Innovation Program (OIP) is a joint activity from the Make-IT in Africa and the DSSD project. Through a close collaboration with start-ups and other stakeholders, Make-IT Rwanda and DSSD align their core activities (promoting entrepreneurship and solutions for digital transformation respectively) to empower and accelerate start-ups to scale their solutions across the country and to regional or international markets. Make-IT Rwanda and DSSD plan to implement the OIP to support 15 start-ups to get their innovations to the market by promoting a collaborative approach between start-ups and their key partners -- focusing on numerous marketplace challenges and solving them together. The Open Innovation Programme will target the three main sectors: smart cities, agriculture, and education. The programme will be implemented in six months.

1.5 Approach of the OIP

The Open Innovation Programme embraces a problem-centric approach whereby innovations are challenged to respond to the painful needs of the clients. In return, not only they gain a product market fit but also, they get ready to scale their markets. At the heart of OIP, there is collaboration; this is built on “the customer has the answers” philosophy - whereby innovators are encouraged to meet potential clients with the painful need of the solution, and they build based on the multiple feedbacks they received. To do that, innovators also need a close collaboration with their key suppliers as well as the distribution channel owners. The innovations get validated by the market and are ready to scale.

This is done in four dimensions process.

  1. The problem definition: defining the key economic challenges that start-ups could realistically solve. This is at the heart of the Open Innovation Programme. Inputs, processes, and outputs must be geared towards solving some specific problems in the society.
  2. Entrepreneurial readiness: to support innovator acquire an entrepreneurial mindset, attitude, and character.
  3. Business model validation: assessing the core value proposition, supply chain and revenue structure while identifying the right target customers & investors.
  4. Technical support: To provide the hands-on market-oriented technical support related to their product, markets, administrative assistance, and investments.

The Open Innovation approach seeks to create more collaboration across various players in the innovation ecosystem in Rwanda. By adopting agile practices including building, seeking market feedback, and measuring progress at the early stage, the innovations have higher chances to get to the market successfully. The entire process objects to transforming the innovations into market-ready and scalable products and services. Throughout the OIP process, the programme defines, identifies, engages, and collaborates with the key stakeholders. They are selected based on relevance to getting innovations to the marketplace successfully; the main ones are the clients, suppliers, and distribution channels.

2.    Objective of services to be provided.

This consultancy assignment seeks to design and implement the Open Innovation Program to support tech-innovators to upgrade their entrepreneurial acumen, get their business model validated and their products to the markets, by following an open innovation approach. It will engage multiple stakeholders, the start-ups but also their potential clients, suppliers, and distribution channel partners. Through rolling out the products/services & gaining visibility, the goal is to scale the start-ups’ market base.

3.    Scope of the contract (deliverables)


The contractor is required to provide the following services in close collaboration with Make-IT in Africa:

Design of the programme

  • Ideate and design the programme.
  • Define the biggest problems start-ups could tackle in the areas of Smart Cities, Agritech and EdTech.
  • Design the engagement processes of participants into the program including potential clients, suppliers, and distribution channels. The engagement activities will be based on the inputs from GIZ.
  • Design the recruitment of 15 high-potential start-ups with promising products or services.
  • Design the transformation process following the best lean / agile practices.
  • Design an assessment framework (e.g., business intelligence and KPIs that takes stock of each participant’s progress and gaps, and according to which progress can be measured. The assessment must adopt a holistic framework.

Implementation of the programme

 1.    Problem Setting and recruitment.

The consultant will define the main problem the start-ups will tackle. The problem must be cross cutting the fields of smart cities, agriculture, and education, important, urgent to handle and clear to both the start-ups and potential clients (who bear the pain).


  • Through a collaboration between Make-IT and DSSD, the contractor will recruit participating start-ups through an open call for applications. This involves creating an online call for applications, shortlisting and selecting the final candidates. Start-ups must at least own a tech or tech-enabled minimum viable product. The product or service must present a positive social or environmental impact.
  • Through various networks, the consultant will recruit various stakeholders willing to engage with start-ups products and/or services. Those include potential clients, potential suppliers, and partners with distribution channels. This will be implemented in a non-linear and agile process. Start-ups and interested stakeholders must belong in the fields of Smart Cities, Agritech and EdTech.

 2.    Entrepreneurial readiness 

Support start-ups to upgrade their entrepreneurial acumen focusing on soft skills: leadership, teamwork, communication, problem solving and time management.

  • Design and implement a mentorship programme building personal and long-term business relationships with the start-ups and mentors. Each start-up will receive at least 16 hours of mentorship throughout the programme.
  • Setup various bi-weekly public inspirational talks and/or speaker series to motivate, educate and inspire start-ups to strive to excel. A total of 8 talks will be delivered.
  • Organise monthly industry-focused group case studies focusing on the common problems and key solutions available. A total of 4 case studies will be carried out.

 3.    The business model validation

Support start-ups to identify the best customer segments to target by formulating an excellent value proposition, establishing supply chain structures, and developing a revenue strategy. This will follow the Open Innovation approach whereby innovators are strongly encouraged to interact with their potential clients and other potential stakeholders regularly and repetitively.

  • Identify and design the learning needs – content structure and methodology to use.
  • Identify extra support needs of start-ups – details, strategies and tactics to fill the gaps.
  • Based on the Open Innovation approach, develop a learning curriculum incorporating all the identified learning needs – content and methodology.
  • Based on the curriculum, run series of experiential-learning workshops focusing on business model validation, marketing & sales and finance & investments. A total budget of 80hours will be allocated to all the beneficiary participants.
  • Align the workshops with a highly customised one-on-one business coaching that focuses on business strategy (refining their mission and vision and performance measurement referring on the venture development plans). Each start-up will receive at least 6 hours of coaching throughout the programme.
  • Design customized venture development plans for each participating team. The goal is to get the products or services rollout successfully on the market and get visibility.

4.    Technical support

Support the start-ups to get additional technical services building their capabilities to successfully rollout the products or services to the market.

  • Support the start-ups to improve the product. Using key measurements, move the product(s) or service(s) from a minimum viable market to at least a minimum marketable product. This will be done through providing technical mentorship, supporting start-ups to get subsidised technical services through the DTC and connect the start-ups to the relevant technical networks. This will be implemented by closely following the Open Innovation best practices, interacting with all the relevant stakeholders throughout the process. This activity will consume a budget of 45 hours for all the products supported by OIP.
  • Provision of administrative services to the qualifying start-ups including the legal and accounting services. A total budget of 40 hours will be allocated to all start-up qualifying for the services.
  • Link start-ups with relevant investors through customised meetings and introductions and a demo day. At least 7 investor-start-up meetups will take place before the end of the programme.
  • Support start-ups to get their products to the market. This could be done through sponsorship to trade fairs, networking sessions and access to offline or online marketplaces. At least 7 start-ups will get opportunities to get their products to the market.


1.    Monitoring of activities & start-ups progress

  • Track the start-ups and stakeholders’ participations in the defined activities.
  • Based on the designed assessment framework, monitor each start-up’s progress and update the database on a weekly basis.
  • Track the progress of the stakeholders towards getting the desired products.
  • Provide the progress report every month and check-in.
  • Conduct the baseline and an end-line surveys at the beginning and closure (6 months later) of the project based on Make-IT M&E framework.

2.    Monitoring of impact for activities 

Provide a detailed report on the project impact, key monitoring material will be shared by GIZ. The report must also include a blueprint for implementing future Open Innovation Programmes based on the approach used and learnings acquired.


  • All logistics regarding the conduct of workshops and one-on-one meetings are handled and paid for by GIZ.
  • All catering costs are handled and covered by GIZ.
  • All travel expenses and arrangements caused for consultancy or participants must be covered by the consultancy.


The consulting firm will oversee various communications tasks including but not limited to:

  • Developing the corporate branding for the Open Innovation Programme.
  • Develop and implement an awareness campaign for the Call for Applications, including but not limited to a communications plan and kit, a social media campaign (including an ad campaign if required), direct messaging, online banners, organisation of online webinars (i.e. with Q&As), newsletter texts, press work, etc.
  • Communicative accompaniment of the programme (Developing of Social Media Templates i.e., introduction of the start-ups, press work, newsletter texts)
  • Organise and promote the demo day.
  • Organise seminars and promoting the best practices around Open Innovation approaches, context, tools, and benefits.
  • Produce and publish a publicly accessible final report documenting cases and success stories around Open Innovation Programme.

4.    Specification of inputs

Assignment of personnel


Project Manager (1)

Assistant Project Manager (1)

Expert pool (4)

Design of the programme

10 expert days

10 expert days

40 expert days

Implementation of the programme

30 expert days

15 expert days

180 expert days

Manage communications.

4 expert days

6 expert days


Handle logistics

0 expert days

5 expert days


Conduct monitoring and evaluation.

5 expert days

5 expert days

40 expert days

Total estimated  expert days

Up to  350 expert days

5.    Provisional schedule 

The programme is scheduled to be implemented from August 2021 to February 2022.

Contract Start                                                                         02. August 2021

 Programme preparation

Design of the programme                                                     13. August 2021

Call for applications                                                                27. August 2021

Recruitment of participants                                                  03. September 2021


Entrepreneurial readiness activities                                    14. January 2022

Business model validation activities                                    14. January 2022

Technical support activities                                                   11. February 2022

 Monitoring mentoring relationship

Weekly monitoring                                                                 06. September 2021

Interim report                                                                         21. November 2021

Overall monitoring and evaluation                                      18. February 2022

Final report                                                                              25. February 2022                                         

Contract ends                                                              28. February 2022

6.    Technical assessment 

The application of the contractor will be assessed on the following criteria:

Concept and work plan:

  • Interpretation of objectives
  • Strategy (technical concept/alternative concepts)
  • A proposed action-oriented curriculum design.
  • Strategy to provide technical support to startups.
  • Strategy to engage the stakeholders.
  • Strategy to harvest the key learnings and dissemination.
  • Implementation methods: Management of processes, Cooperation
  • Proven experience in implementing business incubation programs in Rwanda.
  • Proven experience in supporting entrepreneurs to scale their markets.
  • Work schedule and time schedule
  • Monitoring and evaluation concept

Qualification of proposed staff:

Project Manager (1 staff)

  • General qualification: Private sector development, entrepreneurship.
  • Education: Master’s degree in business administration, entrepreneurship or other related fields.
  • Specific qualification: Minimum 5 years of experience in business consulting services and a proven project management experience.
  • Good English writing skills
  • Experience: Minimum 5 years in delivering business coaching to startups in Rwanda. Experience with Strategy consulting is preferred.
  • Other: Good English writing skills.

Assistant Project Manager (1 staff)

  • General qualification: Private sector development, entrepreneurship
  • Specific qualification: Minimum 5 years of experience in business support programmes in Rwanda.
  • Good English writing skills
  • Experience: Minimum 5 years in delivering business coaching to startups. Experience with finance and marketing consulting is preferred.
  • Other: Good English writing skills.

Expert pool 1 (3 staffs)

  • General qualification: Private sector development, entrepreneurship, or general business consulting.
  • Specific qualification: Minimum 5 years' experience in mentoring or coaching startups in Rwanda. Minimum 3 years' experience in the fields of smart cities, AgriTech or EdTech.
  • Good English writing skills.
  • Additional experience: owning a startup or having worked in a startup environment for 5 years or more.

Expert pool 2 (1 staff)

  • General qualification: Private sector development, entrepreneurship, or general business consulting.
  • Specific qualification: Minimum 5 years' experience working with private sector on legal and accounting activities in Rwanda. Minimum 1 year experience in working with startups or small and medium businesses.
  • Good English writing skills.

7.    Submission and evaluation of EoI

Please indicate this assignment number in your submission email: 83386393

EoI will be evaluated based on the following criteria:

  • Company or individual profile,
  • Relevant experience,
  • Company strategies to assure agility, flexibility and responsiveness,
  • Personnel and,
  • Financial offer.

 The EoI should contain the following:

For Technical Proposal:

  • A Cover letter expressing interest in this assignment.
  • The structure of the proposal must correspond to the structure of the EoI. In particular, the detailed structure of the concept.
  • The complete technical proposal shall not exceed 10 pages (excluding CVs).

If the maximum page lengths is exceeded, the content appearing after the cut-off point will not be included in the assessment

  • It should be formatted; font type ARIAL, fond size 11, the offer should be drawn up in English language.
  • The CVs shall not exceed 4 pages.
  • Company or business registration certificate
  • References and recommendations of similar works executed by the company in Rwanda or elsewhere outside of Rwanda.
  • VAT registration certificate if available
  • Latest tax clearance certificate

For the Financial Proposal: 

The Financial Proposal indicates the contract price, supported by a breakdown of consultancy fee per day + all other costs such us (if needed) daily allowance, accommodation expenses. The cost must be in RWF and VAT excluded.

Please submit electronically your EoI (technical & Financial offer)  in 2 separated PDF files  to this email: until latest Friday 30 July 2021 at 4:00 pm,

 Please indicate this assignment number in your submission email: 83386393


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