Rwandan social entrepreneur Henri Nyakarundi who is the CEO/Founder of Ared Group discovered the stress people in Burundi pass through to get their phone charged in 2013 and this led to the development of an innovative kiosk that solves that problem and makes life easier for them.
Few years later, this evolved into a 2-in-1 smart Kiosk which will solves both charging and connectivity issues for Rwandans. This innovation is the first of its kind in Africa.
In his interview with Espact’s journalist, Temmy Balogun, he gave an in-depth information on his innovation.
Read His Interview Below:
Tell me about you, your nationality education and profession.
My name is Henri Nyakarundi, I am from Rwanda. I grew up in
To be precise I moved back in December 2012 to start this project, have been an entrepreneur for close to 20 years now. So I have only worked in a 9-5 job for less than 2
What’s the smart kiosk about? Was there any problem you saw before creating them? How are they solving that problem?
I developed this concept towards the end of 2008 and it was driven by my observation when I was travelling frequently to visit my family in Burundi. As at that time people still had huge problem charging their cellphone, so I made research on solutions to this but most of the available solutions were consumable products, like a charging devices that you have to carry with you, then i discovered that it will be great to have a kiosk that allows people to charge wherever they find themselves even without having a charging device on them.
I started the business in Rwanda in 2013, the business evolved and today, we are a tech company, so our product is now a smart kiosk. It is not just solving charging problem but also connectivity issues for Rwandans.
The idea is to revolutionize the way distribution of digital services and connectivity is done. so, we still do phone charging on this kiosk , we also do wifi, and digital services, this makes the concept a 2-in-1 solution provider.
We realised that the market is very fragmented, there is a poor distribution of services in low income areas therefore combining our services on one platform, will save people’s time, and also make it convenient for them.
So they can charge their phone, and at the same time have access to the internet WiFi, and offline digital contents that are educational and informative. They can also buy digital services like airtime, mobile money, all are from one platform.
How do you operate the smart kiosks?
We hire women with disabilities to operate those kiosk, we call it micro-franchise, and they earn a commission on services they sell.
In addition to our offline WiFi system, we also do advertisement , and data collection ,this makes us have multiple revenue streams.
Are the smart kiosks manufactured by your company?
My Company’s name is A-red group, and yes it is manufactured by us. It took me three and a half years to develop the first prototype and was done with my personal savings, I hired engineers, designers from different countries in the world such as Poland, China and recently, Germany.
Where can people get your services from?
Of cos, it’s our technology, we have an IP on the technology, so they can only get it through us.
The kiosks only work with our softwares and systems, as i said, it’s a smart system, it’s not just a regular kiosk, a lot of technology on the kiosk. we are the first and only company in Africa to has developed such technology. Now we are moving, and venturing into using our technology on other kiosks like telecom kiosks and every other kiosks requesting to use our technology for them.
We don’t sell kiosk to individuals, we work with distributors, and telecoms. We are looking for people that want to build a distribution network in their respective countries, actually, Nigeria is our next market, we are negotiating some companies there already.
We don’t sell to the end user because the kiosk is a high technology product, the kiosk operators therefore need training programme to run it. It also needs a support system for the kiosk operators, so we work to sell to what we call distributors, and distributors have higher engines or kiosk operators to operate those kiosks. We call it a licensing manual.