“Over 3-Million Ugandan primary school children (and over 95-Million across Africa), a study in classrooms with no furniture to aid proper reading and writing,” was the basis on which SeatPack pitched their idea.
Arnold Mugagga, the inventor of SeatPack, was the first participant to take to the podium, where he wowed the audience with his innovation that saw him as one of the winners, taking home UGX 77 Million.
Thursday 8th April 2021 was a moment of truth and a whole new journey for 19 teams of innovators who have walked a journey with UNICEF Uganda and Outbox.
“At UNICEF, we encourage innovation as it offers out of the box and non-conventional solutions to challenges facing the realization of children's rights. With new innovative thinking, we can take child survival and development to new higher levels of excellence. Innovations offer agility, efficiency and effectiveness,” said Dr Munir Safieldin, UNICEF Representative in Uganda.
Birthed on 22 December 2020, UNICEF Uganda and Outbox, a Ugandan innovation and entrepreneurship support organization launched an innovation initiative dubbed the UNICEF Uganda Innovation Fund Challenge, seeking to support innovators using new and emerging technologies to address pressing issues faced by children and adolescents through social entrepreneurship.
The initiative addresses issues related to child survival and development, improving access to basic education and adolescent development for boys and girls and child protection in line with UNICEF Uganda’s objectives.
One by one, 19 teams of shortlisted participants made their way to Outbox’s events hall, with none in the know of the judges’ decision.
Theirs was to listen and watch all 19 teams pitch their ideas and solutions towards the UNICEF Uganda Innovation Fund Challenge, where 4 teams would later be awarded UGX 308 Million seed funding to support them develop and grow their innovative solutions.
The judges included Bart Cornille, Digital for Development expert at Enabel in Uganda, Jean Makki, currently the Managing Director Design Hub Kampala and Vice-Chairperson StartUp Uganda, Jane Nantayi, Lead Senior Manager Design and Programme Readiness at STiR Education, Jane Nakyanzi, Principal General Officer at the Ministry of Gender, culture and social development, Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development and Akello Martina, Investment Manager Uganda, iungo capital.
By 4:00 pm, the independent panel of judges was done listening to all teams, and the moment of truth was then getting closer.
Receiving mentorship, social business training, linkages to partners and market to enable them to realize and implement their ideas for six (6) months were Safe Water Harvesters, KAINOafrica, Fine Reed innovates and SeatPack.
Below is a quick insight into what the teams have as ideas and solutions.
SeatPack is solving the lack of affordable, classroom furniture by providing a school bag that turns into a mobile bamboo classroom chair with a writing surface to help Primary School Children read and write in more dignified conditions indoors and outdoors, while social distancing for safety against Covid19.
Safe Water Harvester is a solar-powered device that traps humidity/water vapour from the atmosphere providing clean and affordable water to the underserved rural communities, schools & communities at any time.
Fine Reed innovates promotes the use of biofuels made from sugarcane wastes which is environmentally sustainable, hence making cooking affordable for families, and subsequently leading to a reduction in child malnutrition cases.
KAINOafrica is an EdTech (Education Technology) product that provides nursery schools and parents in Uganda with access to quality curriculum aligned STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) blended lesson guides which they deliver to their learners using our web and mobile applications and is able to teach children how to read and write in only one month.
Richard Zulu, founding partner and Outbox Lead said, "The UNICEF Uganda Innovation Fund Challenge is an initiative that will further grow the social entrepreneurship movement in Uganda, where young people and other private sector actors are encouraged and supported to address societal challenges in sustainable ways. Getting the private sector to co-create and collaborate with development partners is a good recipe for innovation."
The initiative is planning to launch another call for applications where other participants will have an opportunity to have their solutions and ideas supported by the same initiative.
The initiative is planning to launch another call for applications where other participants will have an opportunity to have their solutions and ideas supported by the same initiative, in cohort 2.
Written by Tracy Gwambe