After four months of intense business training, mentorship, technical guidance — our cohort of four (4) high-potential social entrepreneur teams, presented working demos of sexual reproductive health innovations for Demo-day. DigiHealth emerged the winner of the Up Accelerate cycle II demo day. The event provided the young entrepreneurs with the opportunity to raise follow-on funding and explore new partnerships that can enable their products access the market.
Digihealth — a web-based platform/mobile app built to help address the problem of manual patient data collection is a brain child of Jacqueline Mutumba, Obed Mogeni and Aidah Bakubuza.
Throughout the competition, the DigiHealth Team took part in the Up Accelerate mentorship and product development programs which saw the transformation of their idea into a market ready product.
“This is a dream come true, we want to achieve global growth and impact for Digihealth. Community outreach programs are not unique to Uganda and neither is the challenge with patient data collection therefore my team and I are working towards expanding our impact globally.”, says Jacqueline Mutumba.
All teams were vetted based on Social impact potential, Business potential, Prototype readiness, Team work, Implementation and Investability. According to the judges, it was a tough call to pick an overall winner — cycle ll teams had evidently worked extremely hard and built products that showed great potential in the market, within a short period of time. Other teams that were part of the second cycle acceleration included: M-Scan, iDrain and EcoSmart Pad.
Phyllis Kyomuhendo, team member of Mobile Scan Solutions (M-Scan), a low-cost mobile ultrasound device to support health workers diagnose pregnancy progress in low-resource settings, was among the four teams presenting their solutions at the event. She explains: “Up Accelerate has enabled us to improve our product development and financial management processes.” This means M-Scan will soon be ready to go to market, providing a low-cost and effective means of following up the unborn baby’s development inside the mother’s womb in resource scarce environments.
For Noella Aryanyijuka, working on EcoSmart Pads, her team’s dream to provide environmentally sustainable, affordable sanitary pads for women and girls from low-income backgrounds, is close to becoming a reality: “We have transformed tremendously not only as a startup, but as a team. We have learnt how to run a company, manage finances, how to network and improve our product development process. We are much closer to launching than we were early this year.” EcoSmart Pads are made of bagasse, the absorptive matter that remains after sugarcane is processed. The use of sugarcane bagasse reduces EcoSmart Pads production costs and makes them more affordable to the consumer.
Dr. William Lubega, co-founder of The Medical Concierge Group and one of the judges at the event, highlighted: “These startup teams are showing the way to other young Ugandans. Through their businesses, they are contributing to Uganda’s growth and coming up with new, more effective ways of doing things.” Other judges on the judging panel included: Dr. Sabrina Bakeera-Kitaka — a Senior Lecturer at Makerere University College of Health Sciences, Mr. Samuel Edem-Maitum — Head Operational risk management, Barclays Bank Uganda) and Mr. Davis Baasha — the Regional Director, Bid Network
The young startup teams participating our Up Accelerate programme have equally benefited from the expertise of a wide range of institutional partners, including Deloitte, Google, Makerere University, Clinton Health Access Initiative, Medic Mobile, UNFPA and the Uganda Health Marketing Group.
“The programme provides young startups with the unique opportunity to tap into a diverse network of individuals and institutions across Uganda, who have volunteered their time and expertise because they believe the innovative solutions developed by these young entrepreneurs will make a real difference to the reproductive health of Ugandans,” shares Richard Zulu, team leader at Outbox.
Since September 2016, the Up Accelerate programme has reached over 1,000,000 young Ugandans through online and offline platforms and supported 7 teams of twenty-six (26) entrepreneurs to develop their ideas in the area of sexual and reproductive health into market-ready products.
About Up Accelerate
Up Accelerate is the Ugandan brand of the UNFPA Innovation Accelerator, an initiative of the UNFPA Regional Office for East and Southern Africa that seeks to accelerate youth-led social enterprises focusing on Sexual and Reproductive Health. Find more at http://upaccelerate.co.ug The initiative is implemented by Outbox in Uganda.
The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) is the lead UN agency to deliver a world where every pregnancy is wanted, every childbirth is safe, and every young person’s potential is fulfilled.
UNFPA’s Adolescents and Youth Programme works with young people to identify and develop solutions for addressing Uganda sexual and reproductive health challenges. Visit https://uganda.unfpa.org/ for more information.
Launched in 2012, Outbox is a business incubator, co-working space and training facility that specializes in supporting African entrepreneurs interested in using technology to build high-growth businesses. Outbox is built on the principles of sustainability, solving real problems, collaboration, openness and transparency, commitment and personal excellence.
The incubator has so far transformed the lives of over 7,000 youth in the country through entrepreneurial mentorship and training, and Outbox startups have raised more than $1M in funding support. Visit www.outbox.co.ug for more information.