Press release
Evonik Stiftung
May 17, 2019

Official Launch of the Maker Space at Westerwelle Startup Haus Kigali powered by Evonik Stiftung

Prior to the opening, the team of the Makerspace Kigali organized a two day workshop and developed a Aquaponics system with 8 participants.

Kigali/Rwanda. After the successful launch of the Westerwelle Startup Haus Kigali powered by Evonik Stiftung in October 2018 the next milestone in the cooperation between the Westerwelle Foundation and Evonik Stiftung in Rwanda followed. On May 17th, 2019 the Makerspace Kigali was officially launched. The Makerspace offers different workstations such as technology, electronics and textile production. Thereby, vocational training in Kigali reaches the digital age. Thanks to an App interested founders receive instruction on how to use the 3D printers and after successfully completing the App based training they receive a certificate allowing them access to the Makerspace. With these new skills the founders are able to design and develop their 3D prototypes with the available cutting-edge technology.

The innovative character of the Makerspace is also present in the approach for independent learning. A virtual reality application developed by Evonik in cooperation with the University of Bielefeld allows insights into the plastics engineering at Evonik. By using the advantages of digitalization this working world is also open to all users of the Makerspace Kigali.

Dr. Heike Bergandt, Managing Director of Evonik Stiftung, highlighted in her welcome speech the innovativeness and uniqueness of the Makerspace: “There are many startup houses worldwide, but hardly any other house has such a well-equipped makerspace. […] However, let's be honest, what we have here is a room full of equipment. That's an excellent starting point, and to bring this to a true success, this must become a place where people know they can gather and work together to make their vision reality.”

According to the Programme Manager of the Westerwelle Startup Haus Programme, Guido von Westerholt, the reasons for opening a makerspace are: “Increasing the focus on design thinking when talking about product design and teaching this concept to local innovators in practical workshops is the focal point of our Makerspace. The wide variety of practical learning possibilities is to improve the education services for many and offer them a chance to a good employment opportunity in their home country. ”

Additionally to the representatives of the Evonik Stiftung and the Westerwelle Foundation two guest speakers joined for the official launch and shared their knowledge on developing makerspaces and strengthening innovation in a number of countries worldwide. Babasile Daniel Oladele-Emmanuel, founder of GreenLab Microfactory – Nigerias first FabLab – and Manager of the OpenLab at Helmut Schmidt University, University of the German Federal Armed Forces in Hamburg talked about his vision for makerspaces and communities of innovators on the African continent and beyond: “It’s time to use our resources to solve our problems. […] Lack of resources should not be the reason for lack of resourcefulness.” Vuyisa Qabaka, Partner at HYBR, a pan-African innovation consulting company based in South Africa, encouraged the present community of makers and entrepreneurs purposefully striving to turn their ideas into reality: “When people have purpose they achieve more. […] Ideas without purpose in your actions will lead to little or no success.”

Prior to the opening the team of the Makerspace Kigali organized a two day workshop and developed a Aquaponics system with 8 participants. The idea behind the innovative agri-tech solution is to combine aquaculture (raising fish) and hydroponics (soil-less growing of plants) using 90% less water than traditional farming techniques. “It was important to us to show the invited guests what diverse possibilities we are offering in the Makerspace Kigali. Furthermore, the workshop was the beginning of partnerships here in Rwanda that will hopefully strive to support young product designers to turn their visions into reality thereby creating new innovations”, explains Guido von Westerholt.

Evonik Foundation

The Evonik Foundation headquartered in Essen, Germany was founded in 2009 as successor of the Degussa Foundation. The foundation pools the social commitment of Evonik Industries AG, one of the world’s leading specialty chemicals company. The Evonik Foundation focuses its work on promoting education and science as well as on social projects.

Company information

Evonik is one of the world leaders in specialty chemicals. The focus on more specialty businesses, customer-oriented innovative prowess and a trustful and performance-oriented corporate culture form the heart of Evonik’s corporate strategy. They are the lever for profitable growth and a sustained increase in the value of the company. Evonik benefits specifically from its customer proximity and leading market positions. Evonik is active in over 100 countries around the world. In fiscal 2018, the enterprise with more than 32,000 employees generated sales of €13.3 billion and an operating profit (adjusted EBITDA) of €2.15 billion from continuing operations.

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In so far as forecasts or expectations are expressed in this press release or where our statements concern the future, these forecasts, expectations or statements may involve known or unknown risks and uncertainties. Actual results or developments may vary, depending on changes in the operating environment. Neither Evonik Industries AG nor its group companies assume an obligation to update the forecasts, expectations or statements contained in this release.