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Canadian AI firm Proto invests $1M in Rwanda for Africa expansion

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Proto, the leader for inclusive chatbots and multilingual contact center automation, opens its Africa HQ in Kigali and targets key hires in Rwanda’s growing tech sector.

Proto’s investment in the East African country follows the announcement of Rwanda’s plan to achieve middle-income country status by 2035 through its ongoing transformation into Africa’s leading hub for artificial intelligence and digital technology.

While Rwanda and Africa have made major strides over the past decade in digital financial services, healthcare, and telecommunications – quality customer experience has lagged behind with notoriously long wait times and outdated service delivery channels. This problem is compounded by the complexity of local and mixed languages that automation technology, such as chatbots, fail to understand due to a lack of machine learning data.

Proto solves the problem with national scale chatbot deployments with African governments and enterprises that generate a massive amount of local language data, supported by multilateral organizations such as the African Development Bank.

Investment follows Proto’s Series A round for global expansion

Proto’s investment in Rwanda, which will immediately create five new jobs, comes after the announcement of its Series A round led by Mucker Capital.

Proto CEO Curtis Matlock said: “Rwanda’s software talent pool and pattern of proactive tech adoption made it the ideal base for Proto’s investment in Africa. This decision follows two years of virtually-implemented AI customer experience deployments in Africa during the pandemic – so the Proto team is eager to multiply its on-the-ground personnel serving the region from this new home in Kigali.”

This scaling of Proto’s novel AI technology for African languages and customer experience improvement is aligned with Rwanda’s strategic development priorities, spearheaded by the Ministry of ICT & Innovation.

In addition to the investment, Proto enters the market with a partnership with Pindo, an instant communications channel provider, to serve more institutions that require SMS and USSD channels.

Pindo CEO Remy Muhire said: “Reliable unified communication infrastructure in Africa is still an issue. Pindo, over the years, has immensely invested in owning its infrastructure to deliver quality experiences. This partnership with Proto comes at a good time as we recently scaled our CPaaS channels to cover all African countries and the rest of the world.”  

Rwandan central bank deploys Proto chatbot across 500+ financial institutions

The National Bank of Rwanda, the country’s central banks, is also deploying Proto’s chatbot technology for Kinyarwanda, French, and English for financial consumer protection across hundreds of retail & digital banks, insurance firms, and microfinance institutions. This deployment will set a new standard in Africa for the rapid detection of market misconduct and consumer rights.

National Bank of Rwanda Director of Market Conduct Supervision Gérard Nsabimana said: "The National Bank of Rwanda is pleased to deploy the complaints handling and customer engagement chatbot system in partnership with Proto and the African Development Bank. The system will facilitate financial service consumers to raise their complaints and get feedback via different virtual channels. Our expectation is that the system will be beneficial for both financial service consumers and financial service providers."

In the coming months, Proto will be announcing additional AI customer experience projects across the public and private sectors in Rwanda.

Contact info

Website: Proto
Contact: Patience Mutesi, Director of Africa
E-mail: patience@proto.cx

About National Bank of Rwanda‍

The National Bank of Rwanda is committed to ensuring the stability of Rwanda’s financial system while pushing for growth and financial inclusion. In doing this, they focus greatly on delivering services efficiently and effectively and consistently looking for ways to facilitate continuous improvement.

About Pindo

Pindo is an instant communication platform for businesses, optimized for developers. Pindo helps companies engage directly with their customers through various channels such as SMS, Social Media platforms, and Voice.

About Proto

Proto is the leader for inclusive chatbots and multilingual contact center automation in emerging markets. Proto’s AI Customer Experience (AICX) platform is powered by proprietary natural language processing (NLP) for under-resourced and rare languages. Proto's novel deep-learning techniques and regulatory partnerships maximize customer experience, protection, and lifetime value.