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The WeEmpower Challenge is a global business competition for women entrepreneurs who are advancing the UN Sustainable Development Goals and inspiring entire communities to act to create the world we want by 2030. 

Women entrepreneurs present pitches and  the most votes for the honoree win $20,000 at DVF in New York, NY on September 23, 2019.

photo/Carey Wagner

Christelle Kwizera

Christelle Kwizera, 26, is a Rwandan Mechanical Engineer and social entrepreneur. She founded Water Access Rwanda in 2014 to address water scarcity and youth unemployment in Rwanda one year before she graduated magna cum laude in Mechanical Engineering from Oklahoma Christian University.

Under her leadership, Water Access Rwanda is recognized for being innovative in the water sector where it directly employs 61 young Rwandans, and distributes safe water to 72,000 people daily through its 273 managed water access points. It was the first from Rwanda to win the Africa Entrepreneurship Award, the EDF pulse Africa Award, WeEmpower SDG challenge among others. It is also recognized as a Youth SDG innovator by UNSDSN. More recently, It was dotted with the Jack Ma Africa Business Heroes Award and recognized and funded as a transformer through IsDB’s Transform Fund.

Christelle was awarded a Global Citizen Prize (CISCO YOUTH LEADERSHIP AWARD) and she is a Resolution fellow, a Sierra Club GPEP fellow, a MILEAD fellow, a princess Diana awardee and Foundation Channel’s 2019 Woman Entrepreneur of the Year; all awarded on account of her leadership in addressing social issues, particularly those tied with environmental justice and Youth issues. Christelle is a recurring mentor, speaker and motivator for other youth and women who wish to join the sciences and entrepreneurship world, using her journey and experience to inspire them on their own social entrepreneurship journey. She deeply holds the belief that as humans we gain more skills by using those we have. She was recently featured on the Book: 100 Women Using Their Power to Empower along with such household names like Hilary Clinton, Christine Lagarde, Ruth Bader Ginsburg etc.

Through the company, Christelle has inadvertently fulfilled her childhood dreams of being an example to others, pioneering and trailblazing, as well as more practically to author scientific papers.

Christelle serves on the Shared Value Africa Initiative as a non-executive board member, is head of the Economic commission in the Joint Action Development Forum of Nyarugenge District, the lead Fellow of the Kigali innovation Hub and is the commissioner in charge of the environment, natural resources and human settlement within the RPF. She was also appointed to be on the Consultative Advisory Group of the Partnership For Skills In Applied Sciences, Engineering And Technology.