From a match to a purposeful collaboration

How Deloitte Netherlands and GIZ Rwanda built a meaningful partnership thanks to

In spring 2020, Joep Dekkers, coordinator of the traineeship programme at Deloitte Netherlands, was on a mission: He wanted to find a purposeful project for his team of 20 young and bright data scientists, who were ready to take on new challenges. At the same time, Nasser Kanesa from the Digital Transformation Center Kigali, operated by Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH, was looking for mentors, tech companies and enablers for a new ecosystem mapping tool. As both parties were searching for suitable partners, they found each other via and kickstarted a powerful collaboration.

“Why we’re doing our work, how we’re helping society – that is really important”, states Joep Dekkers, Director at Deloitte Consulting in the Netherlands. Besides advising insurance companies on data-driven operations, Joep is also responsible for the first international and cross-function analytics traineeship at Deloitte. As part of his experience in mentoring trainees in previous years, he learned that younger generations want to spend more time working on projects with strong social impact. As a result, he set out the challenge for his trainees to identify and complete such a project as part of their training.

Crafting the Ecosystem Mapping Tool, (c) GIZ Rwanda, 2020

Successful matching through

When Alex Wach, one of the trainees, learned about in early April, he had exactly that challenge in mind. While browsing through the digital matchmaking platform, he quickly identified a suitable opportunity: Nasser Kanesa, Solutions and Innovation Advisor at GIZ Rwanda, was looking for experts in data analytics to scale-up a digital tool to map the local innovation ecosystem. Alex connected through and after a brief call with Nasser and his colleagues, he suggested the project to Joep and the other trainees. Very soon, GIZ Rwanda and Deloitte Netherlands started discussing project needs and potential means of cooperation.

What does the collaboration look like?

In July, the collaboration in two projects kicked off, amongst them the digital ecosystem mapping tool. “It’s the place where companies can register, innovators and investors can find companies and innovation hubs can collaborate with each other. It’s basically an online platform for the digital and start-up community in Rwanda”, explains Nasser. Five trainees at Deloitte are supporting this project for five hours per week over seven months, another group of five is working on a second project with GIZ Rwanda.

“It is a great learning experience. The trainees need to get organized as a group, team up and learn how to manage various responsibilities at the same time”, states Joep. Their tasks involve understanding the business requirements, showcasing examples to visualize the data and advising on best practices and lessons learned. Together with GIZ, they develop and adapt the ecosystem mapping tool for it to offer an optimal user experience and advanced security.

The Ecosystem Mapping Tool (c) GIZ Rwanda, 2020

Both sides are thrilled about this collaboration as Nasser points out: “We would have had to spend a gigantic amount of time and money on trying to refine the system on our own. Now we are getting the essential support and expertise from Deloitte. So, I would say that it is going great.” Joep confirms this with regards to his trainees: “I’m completely positive that we connected perfectly well and that there is an excellent atmosphere in the group.”

And how does this contribute to development?

For Nasser, the contribution to the sustainable development goals is very clear: “We can only achieve the sustainable development goals through collaboration. The digital ecosystem mapping tool is a platform that encourages collaboration of development partners, start-ups, innovation hubs and investors – the entire community.” He is convinced that by providing this tool to the innovation community, the team is strengthening economic opportunities and enables dignified employment. It is a solution that can be used and scaled in various countries: “This will be a plug-and-play kind of solution with world class quality. We hope that once we are done with our process, we will be able to push this to all the other interested parties all over the world”, concludes Nasser.

An opportunity with purpose and positive impact!

So, was this the meaningful project opportunity Joep was looking for? He agrees: “That was actually even a better match than what I had hoped for in the beginning! All the projects by GIZ, especially in Rwanda, are spot on in that area. Eventually, we might collaborate on future projects as part of the traineeship programme.”

Based on this experience, Nasser and his colleagues are excited about connecting with more companies as part of their other nine opportunities published on “ helps me push my solutions out into the world. It’s one of the places I go to in order to ensure that the world knows what we are working on”, concludes Nasser. Specifically, he seeks to partner with companies and development organizations that are trying to empower communities and civil society through technologies in sectors such as health, data analytics, serverless computing, good governance and many more.

Deloitte Netherlands is a leading global provider of audit and assurance, consulting, financial advisory, risk advisory, tax, and related services. With 175 years of hard work and commitment to making a real difference, the organization has grown in scale and diversity—approximately 312,000 people in 150 countries and territories, providing these services. With over 6,100 people in 15 offices across the Netherlands, Deloitte Netherlands is one of the largest providers of professional services in the areas of accountancy, tax advisory, consultancy, risk management and financial advisory.

The Digital Transformation Center Kigali is a Rwandan-German initiative aimed at developing impact-driven digital solutions in Africa. It not only provides advisory services and training for government institutions and local tech companies, but also offers a modern space to boost creativity and collaboration. The project is operated by Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) together with the Ministry of ICT Rwanda to support digital innovation in Rwanda. is a free online platform operated by Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) that showcases business opportunities and connects companies with development experts on the ground.

Copyright hero image: Claudio Schwarz, Unsplash 2020

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