Campus - 29.08.2022 - 00:00
29 august 2022. Environment-friendly cold stores, which make local farmers’ products more durable, and online clinics which provide people living in remote areas with medical advice: these are two of dozens of business ideas from Bangladesh and Rwanda that have been supported by HSG students in the last two years. This has been done with the student association Simcubator, which coaches start-ups in the education and healthcare sectors in the two countries and links them up with investors. “We’re convinced that local entrepreneurs have the best ideas as to how their native countries’ problems should be solved. We want to enable the start-ups to implement these solutions in the long term,” says HSG student Florian Schabus. He is studying Strategy and International Management (SIM) and launched Simcubator together with Stephanie Rüegger and seven further SIM students in September 2020. One of the impulses for Simcubator had been the worldwide effects of the pandemic, the students write on the Simcubator website: “The pandemic exposed not only the economic inequalities but also the poor access to and quality of healthcare.“
Young entrepreneurs linked up with international experts and HSG faculty members
In the first Simcubator round in Bangladesh’s capital Dhaka in spring 2021, start-ups were therefore selected which focused on the health sector. “We address start-ups at an early stage which although they have a fully developed business idea, still have no or little invested capital,” says Schabus. In the course of four months, the young entrepreneurs in Dhaka were guided towards a presentation before local and international investors in an incubation process. For this purpose, the HSG students linked the start-ups with mentors from Bangladesh, but also with international experts from companies such as Google and Johnson&Johnson. In the circle of experts, which has since been extended, the young entrepreneurs are also coached by HSG Professor of Entrepreneurship and Technology Management Dietmar Grichnik, as well as by Simon Pfister, Permanent Lecturer in Financial Management.
The HSG students also provided the start-ups with sponsorship money for workstations where they were able to work on their presentation and business idea. With success: after the first round, three health tech start-ups from Bangladesh received funding. To date, Simcubator has raised a six-digit amount from international investors for start-ups in Bangladesh and Rwanda.
HSG students do voluntary work
The first Simcubator round in Bangladesh was followed by a second in spring 2022. The programme, which is run by HSG students on a voluntary basis, was also expanded to Kigali, the capital of Rwanda, where this spring, more than 400 start-ups applied for Simcubator; in Rwanda, the focus was on the education sector. In both countries, the coaching sessions were run partly online, partly on site.
“By now, Simcubator has grown substantially. Currently, we’re considering rounds in Kenya, Nigeria, Ghana and Guatemala. But to do so, we still need volunteers who’ll lend us a helping hand,” says Schabus. Therefore the SIM students want to open the project to all students at the HSG. And from autumn 2022 onwards, Simcubator will be officially registered as one of the more than 130 student associations. “Also, our idea is that other universities can take over and apply the incubator programme,” says Schabus. Simcubator is a working prototype for the funding of start-ups in emerging countries. “We’d like to make the work that we’ve done to set up the programme available to others.”
Involvement in Simcubator was enriching. “We cooperated with people from other cultures through entrepreneurship and learnt a great deal in the process,” says Schabus. The SIM programme director Omid Aschari adds: “In Simcubator, students use their skills and talents in order to effect genuine change, to pursue a shared objective and to develop a global way of thinking.” Thus they demonstrate their ”genuine interest in the creation of social value through entrepreneurship”.
HSG students who are interested in getting involved with Simcubator please contact info(at)simcubator.com.
Caption: In spring 2022, a coaching and funding round for start-ups was conducted for the first time in Rwanda.
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