Innovation Lab Rwanda FAQ

What is UNLEASH Rwanda?

UNLEASH is an Innovation Lab for the Sustainable Development Goals, which convenes up to 1,000 Talents for a 7-day innovation program every year. This year, hundreds of young change makers from all over the world will come together in Kigali, Rwanda during the first week of December to co-create solutions for the most pressing sustainability challenges that our planet is facing.

What happens during an UNLEASH Innovation Lab?

UNLEASH annually gather up to 1,000 young change makers from +100 nationalities for a week of innovation around the SDGs. Through our unique UNLEASH Methodology, we enable young people to translate sustainability challenges into impactful solutions.


Our methodology is built around a collaborative innovation process, based on human-centered design principles. In a nutshell, human-centered design starts with focusing on the people you want to design for and ends with tangible products or services, developed to suit their specific needs. The process follows five steps:


  • Problem Framing: Defining a problem based on user needs and insights
  • Ideation: Brainstorming and selecting ideas to solve the problem
  • Prototyping: Creating simple version of the idea to understand how it will work in real life
  • Testing: Testing the solution with users, learning, and adapting
  • Implementing: Planning and launching impactful solutions

At the beginning of the week, individuals from diverse backgrounds are put into groups of 4-5 and work through the five phases of the innovation process, guided by trained UNLEASH facilitators and experts. At the end of the week, the Teams pitch their solution to our partners and fellow peers for a chance to receive recognition, investments from partners or acceptance into the UNLEASH Plus Program to continue their entrepreneurial journey. In addition to the innovation process, our Talents take part in a number of exciting cultural experiences in our host country throughout the week.

Which SDG themes will I be working on during the Innovation Lab?

Talents will work on themes within up to 8 SDGs challenges, which will be selected and framed in close collaboration with local partners. You will receive more information about which SDG theme you will be working with after your acceptance to the program.

Why should I apply?

Anecdotal feedback from previous participants in UNLEASH Innovation Labs shows that for many of them, their participation is a life-changing event that connects them with the experience, skills, and networks which shape their lives and careers for many years to come.


  • Learn and apply UNLEASH Innovation Methodology to co-create innovative initiatives using human-centered design thinking.
  • Immerse yourself in a week-long program in Kigali, Rwanda, a leading innovation and tech hub in Africa
  • Connect and engage with a diverse community of hundreds of young people, experienced facilitators, and experts who share a mutual passion for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
  • Become part of a global network of thousands of UNLEASH Alumni, fostering ongoing collaboration and support.

How can I stay informed about this opportunity?

To receive the latest information about the Innovation Lab, you can sign up using the following link.

Here we will be providing any updates you need such as notice of application opening and closing dates.

You can also follow us on social media (Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter) and our website, where we post new updates about the Innovation Lab.


When is the Innovation Lab taking place?

The Innovation Lab will take place in Kigali, Rwanda tentatively from December 2 to 8, 2023. If you are selected to participate in the program, please remember to plan time for travel to Rwanda both prior to and after the event.

Where will it take place?

The Innovation Lab will take place in Kigali, Rwanda, also called the “land of a thousand hills”. The program will specifically take place at the Kigali Convention Center and Camp Kigali.

Do I need a valid passport for Rwanda?

Yes. You must have a valid passport to enter Rwanda if you are traveling internationally. Your passport needs to be valid for at least 6 months after the event: that is, until June 15, 2024. If you currently do not have a valid passport, it is your responsibility to apply for/renew your passport as soon as possible so that it is valid in time for your travel to the Innovation Lab.

Do I need a COVID-19 Vaccination to enter Rwanda?

COVID-19 vaccination certificates are no longer required for entrance to Rwanda as per June 2023. It is your responsibility to monitor whether this entry requirement to Rwanda changes.


You can track the changes here

Do I need a Yellow Fever Vaccination Card?

To enter Rwanda, a Yellow Fever vaccination certificate is mandatory to travelers (Residents /Non-Residents) coming from Yellow Fever endemic countries and any country with an active Yellow Fever transmission outbreak

See here for the WHO list of countries with risk of yellow fever transmission and countries and which currently require yellow fever vaccination to enter Rwanda.

Is there malaria in Rwanda?

Yes. Rwanda is a country endemic to malaria. WHO recommends that you consult with a medical professional to see what preventative measures to take to be protected from malaria. (For example, a common measure is to take anti-malarial prescription medication, or to apply mosquito spray). It is your responsibility to look into this and take the necessary steps prior to travelling to Rwanda.



Who is eligible to participate in the Innovation Lab?

Young people aged 18 to 35 at the time of the Innovation Lab, who are passionate about impact, are eligible to apply to be part of the program. English proficiency up to the equivalent of a B1 level (written and spoken) is a requirement.

What kind of Talent characteristics is UNLEASH looking for?

Talents are selected based on the following criteria.


  1. Demonstrated passion and commitment to solving the world’s pressing challenges.
  2. Possession of a creative and innovative mindset.
  3. Willingness to engage in co-creation with peers and experts.
  4. Resilience and ability to overcome failure.
  5. Basic proficiency in English with the ability to understand instructions.

What kind of Talents is UNLEASH not looking for?

The UNLEASH Innovation Lab is not an accelerator for existing ideas, but rather a place for new ideas and collaboration. UNLEASH seeks to identify applicants that are willing to work with others to generate new solutions, based on clear problems. As such, applicants will not qualify for UNLEASH if they:

  • Are not willing to work on completely new ideas or challenge their existing idea significantly through collaboration with other participants
  • Launched their current idea in an entrepreneurial or intrapreneurial capacity that they are working on full-time, and intend to only use UNLEASH to further this
  • Have generated revenue (e.g., from customers, users) or raised funding (e.g., from grants, investors) for their current/newest idea, and intend to use UNLEASH to work on this idea
  • Have multiple full-time paid employees working on their current/newest idea

Please note that we do also have an incubation program, UNLEASH Plus, which does look for Teams with existing solutions, and supports them with the resources and network to advance these solutions during its 6-month program. Read more about how UNLEASH Plus can support your solutions here.

Can we apply as a team?

No. It is only possible to apply as an individual. At the Innovation Lab, you will be assigned to a specific team depending on your interests and profile. The purpose of the Innovation Lab is not to further your existing idea but to connect you to new people and to learn to apply human-centered design thinking through the UNLEASH Innovation Methodology. Note that as a team, you can apply to our incubation program, UNLEASH Plus.

When will you inform the applicants?

All candidates (successful and non-successful) will be informed by early September.

Can I apply if I have participated in a previous Innovation Lab?

No. If you have participated as a Talent in any of the previous Innovation Labs held in India, Greenland, China, Singapore, and Denmark; you are not eligible to apply to the Innovation Lab in Rwanda.

Can I apply if I have participated in an UNLEASH Hack?

Yes! If you have participated in an UNLEASH Hack, but not in an Innovation Lab, you are welcome to apply to UNLEASH Rwanda.

I am a previous Talent. How can I apply to be a Facilitator?

UNLEASH has already sourced Facilitators for the Innovation Lab in Rwanda. When there is an opportunity for UNLEASH Community members to facilitate in the future, the information will be shared on the UNLEASH Community platform.

In what language will the UNLEASH Global Innovation Lab in Rwanda be held?

The Innovation Lab will be held in English.

Prepare your application

When do applications open and close?

Applications to participate in the UNLEASH Innovation Lab will be open for a period of 3 weeks, starting from Wednesday June 28 . Applications close on Wednesday July 19 at 11.59 PM GMT.

How can I anticipate my application?

  • You will have to submit your whole application in one sitting. This means you cannot save your application midway and return to complete it.
  • We encourage you to prepare the answers to your application in a separate document before attempting to fill out and submit the application form.
  • We also strongly encourage that you prepare your application well in advance of the deadline to avoid last-minute technical issues or lack of internet connectivity that may affect your ability to apply.

What kind of questions will I need to answer in my application?

You will answer questions on your personal profile, as well as questions that demonstrate your passion for or commitment to the Sustainable Development Goals. We strongly encourage you to be truthful in all your responses. UNLEASH commits to remaining unbiased in the evaluation and selection process, and any information discovered to be intentionally incorrect could lead to an automatic rejection of your application. UNLEASH will also run all applications through an AI (Artificial Intelligence) detection software and automatically disqualify applicants who have used such software to write their applications.

Application questions: Personal information

These will include but are not limited to:


  • Information about expected commitment and conditions once you are selected
  • Bio data: full name, nationality, gender, country, region, and city of primary (permanent) residence
  • Passport validity, visas, vaccinations and other health requirements
  • How you heard about the UNLEASH Innovation Lab
  • Whether you previously have participated in other UNLEASH programs
  • Professional experience including international conference participation
  • Benefits aspired to from your participation in the Innovation Lab

Application questions: Demonstrating passion and commitment to the SDGs

You will be asked to indicate an SDG you are passionate about and share short paragraph answers to questions relating to this. Please note that the SDG you indicate in your application and the answers to the related questions will largely be for the purpose of evaluating your application to the Innovation Lab. They will not influence which SDG thematic track you will be assigned to during the Innovation Lab.


The questions are as follows:*


  • Describe a problem you have faced or observed in your local community,  environment, or in your work that you are passionate about. (Maximum 200 characters with spaces)
  • Why are you passionate about this challenge? (Maximum 800 characters with spaces)
  • If you could, how would you go about addressing the challenge? (Maximum 800 characters with spaces)
  • What SDG is mostly closely linked to this challenge?
  • Describe the characteristics of your ideal team members. (Maximum 800 characters with spaces)


*Please note that the submission limit is based on characters with spaces, and NOT the number of words

Can I modify my application form after I have already submitted it?

Yes. You can edit your application form even after submitting it without having to create a new application. You can make changes to your form until the application closing date, on July 19 at 11:59 PM GMT. To do so, simply refer to the email you received with a copy of your application form submissions and click on the "Edit Google Form" option.

Will there be information sessions about the applications?

Yes. Two Ask Me Anything (AMA) sessions will be hosted by the UNLEASH Community during the application period. Save the dates for:


  • Wednesday, July 5 at 3 pm GMT – register here to receive the event link.
  • Wednesday, July 12 at 9 am GMT – register here to receive the event link.

Intellectual Property Rights

Who owns the Intellectual Property (IP) rights to the ideas/solutions after UNLEASH?

To the extent that participants’ participation in UNLEASH gives rise to intellectual property, hereunder copyrights, patent rights, and design rights, participants work within their Teams to determine future ownership. However, UNLEASH does retain the rights to use solutions developed during UNLEASH for publicity purposes only.


Do I have to pay for my own transport expenses to Rwanda?

UNLEASH will cover all reasonable and approved flight costs and on-the-ground transportation costs in Kigali, for all Talents who have been accepted into the program. Travels to Rwanda will be booked through our travel agency.


Will UNLEASH cover my travel expenses to my international airport?

UNLEASH will not cover the costs of Talents travelling from their home to or from the international airport from which they are flying to Rwanda. Exceptions apply for Scholarship Talents.

Can I arrive before or extend my stay beyond the program?

No. UNLEASH will book your flight. Depending on flight availability, UNLEASH will plan for your arrival to Kigali on or a day before December 1st, with a departure on December 9th. Flights booked by UNLEASH will not be rescheduled.

Do I need a visa to enter Kigali, Rwanda?

Citizens of all countries are allowed to get a visa-upon-arrival in Rwanda. All selected participants will receive an invitation letter from UNLEASH that will facilitate this process at the Kigali International Airport.

Will UNLEASH reimburse my visa expenses?

Participants will not be requested to pay a visa fee as UNLEASH will cover all visa costs ahead of arrivals.

Will UNLEASH cover transportation during the event?

UNLEASH will provide all participants with local transportation throughout the event, including transportation to/from the airport and your accommodation in Kigali to the event center.

Can I arrive later and/or leave earlier than the scheduled program?

No. You must be present during the entire duration of the event.


Who will cover the costs?

UNLEASH will cover the costs of international flight travel to and from Kigali, local transport in Kigali, accommodation, food, curriculum, facilitation, and program activities for the entire event.


As a general rule, all Talents must pay a registration fee of 150 USD to confirm their spot at the UNLEASH Innovation Lab. This fee mitigates no-shows and ensures that we do not have empty seats where other Talents could have had the opportunity to participate. As such, only applicants who are selected to participate in the Innovation Lab will be asked to pay the registration fee. No payment is required in order to submit an application. 

How do I pay the fee?

All Talents will receive a decision on their application by email. To confirm their participation, Talents must submit requested information (e.g., for travel booking) very shortly after acceptance and pay the participation fee via instructions provided upon acceptance. To pay the participation fee, Talents must have a valid credit card or PayPal account.

Can I get a reduced participation fee?

Talents have the option of applying for a scholarship. If you receive a scholarship, you do not have to pay the participation fee. The scholarship is meant for individuals who are unable to attend the Innovation Lab without scholarship support. *


In the scholarship application you will be asked to fill in information surrounding your economic situation including if you are supporting family members, employed, unemployed etc. Scholarship applications will be assessed once you are accepted into the UNLEASH program.


*If you apply for the scholarship but are not approved, your slot at the Innovation Lab will be withdrawn.

If I cannot afford to pay the registration fee, can I still apply?

Yes! At UNLEASH, our vision is to be the world’s most inclusive platform for young people to co-create a sustainable future. To ensure that everyone has an opportunity to participate, we will offer scholarships to qualified applicants who may face financial limitations in paying the registration fee to confirm their spot.

Why is there a registration fee?

As a general rule, all Talents must pay a registration fee of 150 USD to confirm their spot at UNLEASH Rwanda. This fee ensures that we don't have empty seats and that more Talents get the opportunity to be part of the Innovation Lab. Only selected applicants will be asked to pay the fee. Remember, no payment is required to submit an application!

When can I apply for a scholarship? 

If you wish to apply for a scholarship, simply indicate this in your UNLEASH Rwanda application form. If you are selected to participate in the Innovation Lab, you will receive the scholarship application form that asks for information regarding your economic situation and motivation for applying for a scholarship.

Honesty matters! 

We seek to foster a fair and transparent process to ensure equal opportunities for everyone. If you apply for a scholarship, it is important to provide truthful information. Deliberately providing untruthful information in the scholarship application will lead to automatic disqualification.


Where will I be staying?

All our Talents will be booked at hotels in Kigali and will be offered daily transportation to the event centre. Questions regarding the practicalities of accommodation will be addressed closer to the event.

Can I bring family, children, or friends to UNLEASH?

No. Unfortunately, we do not allow individuals other than accepted participants to attend the UNLEASH Innovation Lab.

Specific Requirement

I have certain dietary restrictions; will these be taken into consideration?

Yes. Prior to your attendance, you will be asked to submit information on any dietary requirements you may have.

Will you cater for the needs of applicants with a mobility impairment?

Yes. Prior to your attendance, you will be asked to submit information on any mobility requirements you may have.


Can I call you if I have an urgent safety problem?

Yes, you can. During the event there will be an emergency number for you to contact if you encounter any safety and security problems.


Can I bring my laptop computer?

Yes. You are welcome to bring your laptop computer. However, UNLEASH is not liable for laptops being damaged or lost during the event.

I do not have a laptop computer, is that a problem?

No. This is not a problem, as you do not need one in order to participate in the Innovation Lab. However, if you do have one, you are welcome to bring it.

Will I receive a sim card during my stay in Kigali?

No. UNLEASH will not provide sim cards to Talents. Talents can purchase a sim card once on the ground if they wish to do so.

Will I have access to Wi-Fi during my stay?

Participants will have access to Wi-Fi during their stay in Kigali, at the accommodation space and during the innovation program.


Who do I contact if I still have questions regarding the UNLEASH Innovation Lab in Rwanda?

If your questions are not answered in the FAQ above, please sign up for one of our Ask Me Anything (AMA) sessions hosted by the UNLEASH Community during the application period. Bring your questions to: 


  • Wednesday, July 5 at 3 PM GMT – register here to receive the event link. 
  • Wednesday, July 12 at 9 AM GMT – register here to receive the event link.  


If your questions are still not addressed, please write to [email protected].