According to Norrsken CEO Erik Engellau-Nilsson, “We believe entrepreneurs working to solve the greatest challenges should be celebrated as heroes, the rock stars of our time. They are creating jobs and solving problems at the same time. We see great opportunities in Rwanda and Kigali as the natural gateway to the fast-growing markets and entrepreneurs of East and Central Africa.”
Norrsken will purchase the former École Belge campus in downtown Kigali, Rwanda – a 12 430 square metres site located in the business district of downtown Kigali. The students moved to a new location last year.
Launched three years ago by Klarna’s founders Niklas Adalberth to help entrepreneurs solve the world’s greatest challenges. Adalberth has, to this date, donated €70 million to the foundation and has seen unicorn founders from gaming giants King and Mojang, international watchmaker Daniel Wellington back the venture capital arm of the foundation.
Norrsken works with over 70 partners in Sweden and globally, such as McKinsey, Nordic Capital and PWC with a portfolio consisting of Swedish and British companies, several of them with operations in Africa already – such as WeFarm and Ignitia.
Norrsken aims to scale this with the opening of Norrsken Kigali and invest directly in African companies and offer training, capital, advice to entrepreneurs on how to set up a business and grow it. The accelerator will also partner with other incubators and accelerators in the region.
“We have to be very humble to the fact that we’ve not done this before and are looking forward to learn from the local ecosystem. We are not only investing in what Kigali is today, but in the future of the entire region,” added CEO Erik Engellau-Nilsson.
The plans for rebuilding École Belge are being created together with MASS Design Group, and a definite date for opening has not yet been communicated. The team for Norrsken Kigali will be recruited locally.
Norrsken’s Head of African Expansion, Fredrika Wessman, sees great potential in integrating with and strengthening the existing entrepreneurial ecosystem in the region.
“We are in Kigali to listen, learn and build together with local entrepreneurs. Our meetings with entrepreneurs in the region have shown a gap in the ecosystem where startups and businesses working to solve problems in their communities often struggle to find the business support and the investments they need to scale,” says Fredrika Wessman.
Wessman says Norrsken’s aim is to accelerate the rapid development of entrepreneurship in East Africa by increasing access to international capital, talent and network.
“Kigali has very strong infrastructure, great connectivity, high economic growth and is ranked by the World Bank as easier to set up a business in than the United States and France. We believe this is a strong foundation for empowering young entrepreneurs throughout the region,” added Fredrika Wessman.
In February, Co-creation Hub launched a ‘CcHUB Design Lab’, creative space for product designers and engineers, scientists and stakeholders in Kigali, Rwanda, making its first foray into East Africa.
The space is expected to be used by global partners to explore the application of emerging technologies that will solve Africa’s systemic problems in Public Health, Education, Governance and the Private Sector. The launch of Norrsken Kigali will put Kigali on the map as one of the region’s hotspot for innovation in Africa.